frosch&portmann is pleased to present Diary of a Radio Junkie: 1237 Days of Waking up to the News, the gallery’s first solo exhibition by New York City based artist Elise Engler.
Engler has always been a radio junkie, from hiding her transistor radio under the covers as a preteen to now, when the radio is always on in her studio. Whether tuned to WNYC, "Democracy Now!," the Yankees, or music, it is a constant presence. The artist is also a news junkie. Put it all together, and her fantasy alter ego as a radio journalist emerges.
Elise Engler began Diary of a Radio Junkie on November 22, 2015, with the idea of illustrating the very first headline she heard on the radio in the morning and posting the image to Twitter and Instagram on the same day. The single headline morphed into multiple ones soon after the 2017 presidential inauguration, when the news cycle intensified. Engler began to curate her choices, reflecting her perception of what was going on in the world.
The artist’s daily process begins with choosing headlines and researching images, using screenshots from videos and other online material. From these fragments she composes a single image—a collection of portraits, landscapes, buildings, and logos, with the headlines included in pencil — and posts it to the Internet. Except for a brief holiday, when she arranged for a series of eleven “guest artists” to substitute for her, she has never missed a day.
For the past 1237 days, Engler’s obsession with the news, radio, and drawing have come together. She’s been living out her dream, "broadcasting" daily as a radio-artist/journalist while following and being followed by the radio journalists from whom she gets her headlines.
Elise Engler’s earlier art consists of meticulous, highly pictorial drawings and paintings that capture and document the material world in all its myriad details. The work is large in scope, but intimate in format. The art made is a narrative investigation of the world seen through its innumerable, but countable, individual components, assembled in suites and series of works. Projects have included drawing everything the artist owned, all 13,297 objects (1997–98); and depicting the contents of 70 women’s bags (started in 1999). Engler spent five years drawing US tax expenditures, including weaponry used in Iraq and 30,000 of the casualties there, as well more local expenditures such as the contents of a fire engine and a NYC virology lab (Tax-Onomies, 2003–2008). In 2009–10 she documented time spent with scientists in Antarctica as a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctica Artist and Writer’s Program Grant. More recently, Engler completed Armature (2013–16), 13 large drawings in color pencil and gouache that document her prolonged recovery from a bicycle accident that seriously damaged her non-dominant arm and hand. In the spring of 2015, after exactly one year, she finished A Year on Broadway, a 109-foot-long accordion-fold drawing depicting the entire length of Broadway in Manhattan, all 252 blocks.
Elise Engler was a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, the National Science Foundation’s Antarctica Artist and Writer’s Program Grant and the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Grant. She has twice been a MacDowell fellow and a fellow of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. Her work has been exhibited in the U.S. and in Europe. A Year on Broadway was featured in The New Yorker and on “CBS Sunday Morning,” and her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Art in America, and other publications.