During our studio visit with Grant Wood Fellow Elena Smyrniotis, we’ll tour the artist’s studio and discuss her current work and practice. As an artist, Smyrniotis is interested in the exploration of real and fictional islands, their effect on our imagination, and their place in the utopian mentality. Islands are imbued with powerful myths; they combine materiality and metaphor and offer spaces that appear at once open and closed, fixed and fluid, defenseless and resilient, seductive and dangerous. Labyrinth focuses on three major themes: the metaphor of space, the allegorical representation of utopia, and the emulation of landscape through cartography and topography. The goal of this project is to explore how landscape functions as a visual and material space, as well as the ways in which landscape affects our consciousness. Labyrinth is composed of multiple layers with maps silkscreened on top. Maps in Smyrnioti's work have varying degrees of association with the real world: they represent intellectual wisdom over spaces and serve as an escape from the mundane into the fantastic space of utopia. The mystery of remote places enticed travelers to take dangerous journeys in search of an ideal land. This quest for the impossible motivates her artwork.
Join us on Zoom: https://uiowa.zoom.us/j/96974482275
Elena Smyrniotis is a printmaking and installation artist with a background in architecture. Her work explores literary and historical utopian ideas through contemplations on the utopian landscape, with a particular focus on architecture, topography and cartography. She earned her MFA in printmaking from the University of Notre Dame, MA in printmaking and drawing from the University of Saint Francis, and MA in Architecture and Engineering from State Petroleum University (Ufa, Russia).
Her recent exhibition include a solo show at PINEA-LINEA DA COSTA (Rota, Spain), Artlink Contemporary Gallery (Fort Wayne, IN), and the Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame, IN), where she was given the Walter Beardsley Award in 2017. She is a regular participant, and a guest of honor in 2018, of the International Art & Design Exhibition at Selcuk University (Konya, Turkey).
Smyrniotis’s has experiences in a global network of cultural institutions, including a fellowship at the Rome Global Gateway and cooperation with the Capitoline Museums (Rome), Hertziana Library and Geographical Society of Italy; teaching printmaking workshops at the Gems Metropole School in Dubai, UAE; partaking in a painting workshop at The Painting School of Montmiral in France. As a member of a global community, Smyrniotis embraces her commitment to education through culture.
Smyrniotis has taught printmaking and drawing courses at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Saint Francis. She was the 2019 Visiting Artist at the School of Creative Arts at the University of Saint Francis and a founder and director of the Art and Architectural School for Children (Ufa, Russia).