Elizabeth Briel was born in California. She received a BFA in Painting from the University of Minnesota, and has lived and worked over a decade in Greater China. Her prints, paintings, and installations begin with materials imbued with meaning—papers devastated by a typhoon or made of military uniforms, paints of bone and lead—and frequently incorporate architectural elements. She has exhibited in four continents, been awarded fellowships and residencies from China Exploration and Research Society (Shangri-la), Terap Ulang Print Studio at University Sains Malaysia (Penang), and Grabart residency (Barcelona). Briel currently runs the Creative Kowloon residency and project space, and works as artist-in-residence with the Yew Chung Education Foundation in Hong Kong.
I was born in 1974 in the San Francisco Bay area which was once a part of Mexico. My Painting BFA was signed and delivered from the University of Minnesota in 2000,
2000 miles from California which felt a world away but wasn't. Like every US citizen with passport, I was born with a silver spoon, made of silver taken from Mexico and the Americas. The same Mexican silver that was once inside an original currency of Hong Kong where I live and work as an immigrant today. The same Mexican silver that sustained Spain's empire and funded landmarks in Barcelona where I'm making prints with master engravers next month.
16 years ago I moved to Asia. Like you I breathe the same air as Cleopatra and Mao, Caesar and Mandela. But lungs in Asia inhale more coal dust - thanks to the Chinese factories which produced your phone and mine, phones which power your life and mine. Pollution off-sourced like the lives of laborers who made it. We are all connected.
The spoon pictured isn’t silver. It was cast in Laos by Phet (commissioned by Ma Te Sai) of unexploded ordinance dropped by American planes from the sky during their secret war. The most heavily bombed part of the world, attacked on average every 8 minutes by America from 1964 - 1973.
My art is made with light, time, and chance. The artworks document passage of time by capturing the sun's UV rays, the fast – changing lives of our era, and a sensation of belonging nowhere yet being equally (un)comfortable anywhere. Always outside looking in, buffeted by partially-understood languages and cultural norms, often welcomed, sometimes tolerated, never accepted.
Many works begin in modular fashion. Via repetition of process or form they become flexible, site-specific installations. Some make use of contemporary Chinese manufacturing as well as early photographic and modern digital processes like those impacting our world in ways we are only beginning to understand.