Artist’s Statement – Elizabeth R. Weiner-Cohen

My studio has always been a jumble of objects and materials that I have collected over the years. Certain pieces always drew my eye. These objects frequently became the subjects for my watercolors.

One object continually became a part of my paintings – my childhood doll. This doll is well loved, rubbed raw through countless hugs. She was cherished by me and my older sister. We constantly played with her. In fact to this day we still fight over ownership! She wears a little dress with tiny yellow roses, trimmed with yellow ric-rac. This dress was sewn for the doll by my mother from left over fabric from our bedspreads. Because of this I have many memories associated with the doll and the fabric of the dress she wears.

The new pieces that I have created for my shows have in part grown from my love for this doll, “Hazel Schmazel” and her hand made costume. I find her shape very appealing and the pattern of the cloth on her dress triggers all kinds of remembrances and associations.

My other inspiration has been the art and cultures that I have experienced traveling around the world. The most powerful influence on these pieces has been the bark paintings of the Australian Aboriginal people.

Having had the good fortune to have lived amongst the Aborigines while teaching and living in Australia, I saw some of their greatest artists create. Only using hand ground pigments and whatever liquids they could find (including animal blood) they very skillftu and precisely applied their paints to bark. The many cross-hatchings and marks that the aboriginal artists employ symbolize different things that relate to their myths and rich spiritual tradition.

During my thirties while working on my doctorate, I had the privilege of seeing and photographing the bark painting collection of the Museum of Natural History in New York. This experience deepened my appreciation for the beauty of these exquisite paintings.

Other inspiration has come from the art of Africa – particularly the sculpture of West Africa. My travels in Ghana enabled me to purchase several clay pieces that many of my doll shapes have evolved from. The fabric that I purchased and made in Africa has become an integral part of these pieces. I have also been very moved by the art of the Maya and Inca peoples. Particularly the clay and stone figures which have inspired many of my doll shapes.