Pattern and Place in the Work of Elaine K. Ng

by Jennifer Chen-su Huang

In 2017-2018, I had the pleasure of spending half a year with Elaine, learning about her layered and multifaceted practice. As a classically trained pianist with an interest in scientific systems, she has a meticulous and intuitive approach to working with material. 

When I met Elaine, we were both spending a lot of time in the weaving room at Tainan National University of the Arts in Taiwan. We bonded over spools of ramie, a natural fiber from the nettle family, native to Taiwan and used extensively by the indigenous islanders for thousands of years. The rich history of this fiber was not lost on Elaine, and she maintains a kind of observant devotion for each material she comes across.

Her process is organic and contemplative. She allows her environment to inform her practice and her understanding of her surroundings. Over time, patterns emerge — these patterns, holding histories of their own, unravel into deeper investigations. Two years after our fellowship, the patterns observed and collected in Tainan undergo new playful permutations in her most recent exhibition UNDER/OVER, at Interloc Gallery in Rockland, Maine.

Take a look at how Elaine’s poetic process unfolds in the photos below:

Over/Under, 2020. Oak, ash, sea brick, Tencel. Image courtesy of the artist.
Tainan Tile Series (Unweavings), 2020. Digital print on cotton gauze, maple frame. Image courtesy of the artist.
Untitled, 2020. Digital print on cotton gauze, ash, brick. Image courtesy of the artist.
Tainan Tile Series 1 (Metal), 2019. Aluminum sublimation print, edition of 3. Image courtesy of the artist.
Untitled, 2018. Handwoven ramie, dowel. Image courtesy of the artist.

About the Artist

Born in Dallas, Texas, Elaine K. Ng is an artist whose multidisciplinary practice uses material investigation, writing, and research to examine our relationships to place. Her work explores the physical and psychological structures of site, the microhistories carried through objects, and the meanings imbued in material and pattern. 

She is a recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship for research in Taiwan in 2017-18 and has been awarded numerous fellowships and residencies, including at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program and the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. In 2020, Elaine is the featured artist for The Rockwell Museum’s annual site-specific Antigravity commission and will be a Guest Artist at the Corning Museum of Glass. She has also been named the Maine Arts Commission’s Visual Artist Fellow for 2020. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and she has lectured and held visiting positions at NSCAD University, Tainan National University of the Arts, and the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China. She holds a BA in music and pre-veterinary medicine from the University of California, Davis, an MBA/MA in arts administration from Southern Methodist University, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She lives and works in Rockland, Maine.

To learn and view more of her work, visit her website: http://www.elainekng.com/