Elissa Levy's Studio 2014

Interview:  Elissa Levy

Elissa Levy was born, lives and works in New York.  Her artwork combines newspaper, sewing and mixed media, manipulating imagery and bringing a new sense of life-blood to the common-place materials she works with.  The figures in her work are often brightly colored, like heat impressions that seem to be slowing burning or crumpling.

Levy attended the Rhode Island School of Design and received her BFA in Glass. She has had solo exhibitions at Stonefox Artspace, NY, The Living Room, San Francisco, and Brooklyn Fireproof, Inc, NY.  Levy has also worked a great deal in the Scottish Highlands.  In 2006, she was chosen to participate in the Glenfiddich Artist in Residence Programme in the Scottish Highlands, and she returned to the area in 2013 for a residency at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop. Her work is included in the Altoids® Curiously Strong Collection, which is part of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY, permanent collection and has been exhibited at spaces including the New Museum, and the Luckman Center Gallery, Los Angeles, Consolidated Works, Seattle, and Blue Star Arts Complex, San Antonio.

Interview Questions


What is the name on your passport?
Elissa Simone Levy


Where do you live and make work? (How does living in your studio or having a studio separate from your home effect the way you think about making art?)
I had a live/work situation for about 13 years, but two years ago I got a separate studio in the Downtown Brooklyn area. I’m more focused there, but I also don’t get the same amount of time to just sit and stare.


What medium/media do you work in?
I’m attracted to mutable and found materials – fabric & clothing, glass, wax, plaster, paper.  I’ve been working with newspaper & spray paint for a few years now and I am having a return to plaster & casting materials.


What is the subject matter of your work?
I am always looking to transform materials into something new, which can express its and our dualistic natures.


What's your favorite person, place, or thing right now?
He knows who he is.


What do you listen to in the studio?
NPR – I work with the newspaper but I really get my news from the radio.


How do you explain your career choice at family gatherings?
I’ve never had to explain to my family.


What community do you see your work living in?
A community of like-minded artworks, but with wildly different interests so that they can really chat amongst themselves while hanging around a room together.


Who are your favorite artists?
Rodin, Mike Kelley, Katharina Grosse, Jimmie Durham, David Hammons, Ilya &  Emila Kabokov, Claes Oldenburg  – and more.


How do you see yourself in 40 years?
Making work, drinking wine, applying sunscreen.


If you were creating film and/or books syllabus what would be on your list?
I feel underwhelmed by film & overwhelmed by TV and periodicals.


What do you hope people will think about looking at your work?
That maybe something beautiful can come out of something terrible.


What was the last exhibition you saw that knocked your socks off?
Leigh Ledare show at Mitchell-Innes Nash was inspiring and exciting.

How often do you show your work to friends?
Does an occasional Facebook post count?