Portrait of the Artist

Edie Nadelhaft

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Point of View

Joshua Tree Park (detail), 2016, 4 x 6 inches (each), oil on panel inset into Napoleon mirror housing

By Noelani Kirschner

June 5, 2017


 

 

Edie Nadelhaft is a painter and sculptor in Manhattan. Her road trip-inspired paintings are part of her Big Country series, which was recently exhibited at the Lyons Wier Gallery in New York.


“I’ve been motorcycling for years. I take very long, rambling rides; sometimes I go as far away as Memphis or Chicago, from New York, so these are long trips. I’ve also gone out west and rented bikes and gone around different areas, in Arizona and California. Just visually, it was so stunning to go out there on a motorcycle because it’s a different way to travel. You are completely immersed in the physical environment. When you’re in a car, you’re looking out a window but you’re not getting the wind in your face; this is a very different way to see the world.

It’s a stunning, enormous country that we live in. When I first went out and saw something like the desert, these places couldn’t look any more different from the East Coast. You know, it’s wild.

My work has always been very focused on the physical world: my physical world, my physical existence, what it literally feels like to be alive. I did a long series of paintings of the surface of my hand because it’s the epitome of feel—your skin is the organ that you sense through, and you use your hands to touch things. So the physical aspect of my work has been ongoing. It’s strange because this Big Country series feels way more personal than those paintings of my skin. Skin is more of a universal phenomenon. When I’m painting [landscapes], it just feels like these are more personal choices. In a way, I’m sharing more of myself.

I dislike artwork that is too instructive. I don’t like work that tells me what to think; it’s not work that I’m interested in. But I like work that’s open for someone to go into. There’s something striking that epitomizes the experience of being in a specific place at this point, this moment in time. It’s like, ‘Boom, that’s what it felt like to be there that minute.’ That minute! Here’s stuff you might not stop to look at, but if it’s frozen for you, then it’s going to open up all kinds of possibilities.”


Noelani Kirschner is the editorial assistant for the Scholar.

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