You feel it the moment you lay eyes on Variation: Apparent Reflectional Symmetry Parts 1 and 2, the above-mentioned diptych. It serves as both the focal point and the source material for all the other works. In it, islands of hot color situated in layers of transparent encaustic form a fractured backdrop for a universe of torqued lines, cryptic marks, curves, branches and irregular geometries. They, too, appear at various depths and opacities. Resting on the surface, in relief, is a layer of totemic shapes rendered in pigmented wax, all white. The effect is of digital graffiti: hermetic and hieroglyphic,
human and not human, referential, but only barely. As Ellingson explained in a recent conversation with the artist Maritza Ruiz-Kim on her blog, ProWax Journal: “I strive for a more pure or essential abstraction. I decided to create a vernacular of rather meaningless, noisy imagery, and I try to make it into something bigger, through accretion, repetition, accumulation, processes, materiality and scale. Through time and labor.” That labor, because of how it’s divided between the electronic warping of computer-generated lines and hand painting, yields a hybrid that truly encapsulates the art-historical moment. Where much of the modernist canon influencing Ellingson aimed for a totalizing effect, her art does the opposite. It atomizes the source material, so that when you look deeply you find yourself lost, grasping for footholds among the shapes,
shards and out-of-focus forms that litter the panels of Variation: Apparent Reflectional Symmetry Parts 1 and 2. If there’s a better representation of the destabilizing, disorienting impact of the data bombardment we undergo daily I have yet to see it. Whether Ellingson, at the outset of her investigations, set out to do this I can't say; but the iterative, generative process she invented, which seems infinitely extensible, has certainly had that effect.
Variation: Large Delineation, the giant mural, opens another window into this process. Here, she’s sampled the library of forms that populate the diptych and enlarged them to monumental scale, painting them by hand onto two walls in a dull, blue-gray acrylic. Those on the largest (13 x 41-foot) wall form a loopy topographic map; the others, on a smaller (10 x 12-foot) wall, call to mind an ancient language composed of raw pixels, shredded in the manner ‘80s raster graphics. In between the diptych and the mural, Ellingson’s installed a