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Ellie Balk

St. Louis, MO

"Math and Data Based Public Art"
I am an artist obsessed with color, pattern, music and mathematics. Through a process developed over years of working with community groups and high school students, I create systematic rules and use mathematical concepts as the basis of my artwork and installations.

My role in the work is that of a composer. I drive my compositions by creating specific rule sets and color codes that build systems with which can be read and interacted by the viewer. Although the work is formally abstract, there is a language to the compositions that engage participation and investigation.

My work centers around mathematics, but I am not a mathematician. I create musical scores, but I cannot read music nor do I know how to play an instrument. My naivety allows me to dive into an authentic artistic approach to create limitless and arbitrary systems. I am curious about people’s instinctive behavior and use this curiosity to create systems to be deciphered and played with. By manipulating the viewer to create confusion, I formalize the coincidental and emphasize the conscious process of composition that is behind the seemingly random. The viewers role in the work is as important to the work itself.

I have spent the last 15 years making work primarily in the public realm. Through mural painting, installation, musical composition, contemporary approaches to stained glass and performance work, I am interested in making art present and authentic to the experience of now. With this conceptual approach, I encourage the viewer to become part of the art as an added component. The all-inclusive socially engaging nature of my process is a driving force in the art making. I am inspired by ideas of Fluxus instruction performance, generative art and the work of artists Sol Lewitt and contemporary artist Rivane Neuenschwander.

As an educator, I have focused my practice on Visualizing Mathematics. I have had the privilege to work in over 40 schools nationwide to create site specific, permanent installations with high school students. I have also been working with specific schools and school districts in writing curriculum to visualize mathematics and the common core.

I am currently splitting my time between Brooklyn, New York and St. Louis, Missouri, while working internationally. I have been an artist in residence at Arquetopia in Puebla, Mexico, at WAAW in Saint Louis, Senegal, Residencia Corazon in La Plata, Argentina and Artist Residency Thailand in Mae Rim.
Wescover creator since 2019

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