Skip to Content

On View

Ellen Garvens

Newton Yellow String, Milk, Olives

Using simple materials that move in seductive ways, the images play with the slipperiness of vision and highlight the limits of understanding.

Ellen Garvens. Olives, 2017. Digital still.

When Ellen Garvens’ children grew up she moved her studio from the basement to an empty bedroom. It contained the residue of 18 years of kid’s play—fingerprints, tape, pinholes, scuff marks. Garvens didn’t have the heart to paint the walls and instead started a series of still lives using the walls as a backdrop. The videos, ironically, grew out of trying to keep the objects from moving. The set ups are simple and made of materials Garvens associates with touch. The work is intended to draw the viewers in close, as if peering through a tunnel or witnessing something in miniature, adding a little humor, curiosity, and wonder to those going by.


About the Artist

Ellen grew up in rural Wisconsin and has lived in Seattle for 25 years with her husband Jim Phalen and their two sons. Earlier bodies of work have combined photography with drawing, sculpture and installation. She is currently working on still lives using photography and video, and has shown projects nationally and internationally. Ellen is a Professor of Art at the University of Washington in Seattle and serves as Division of Art Chair in the School of Art + Art History + Design.