Ellen Soderquist, drawings of figures wrapped in rapture

Rapt Cocoon Series
Both of the series, Rapt Cocoon and Rapt Shadow, began with a play on the words: wrapped and rapture. Initially, the imagery for Rapt Cocoon was influenced by Egon Schiele’s drawings of himself wrapped in his prison cell blankets while serving a sentence for pornography in the Austrian village of Neulengbach in 1912. However, as the drawings for the series progressed, the figure’s drapery had become less like drapery and more like a cocoon, a cocoon that satisfied a need for isolation and protection.

Rapt Shadow Series
Both series, Rapt Shadow and Rapt Cocoon, began with a play on the words: wrapped and rapture. In the Rapt Shadow series, the model is enveloped in fabric that is reminiscent of the clingy drapery typified in the renowned sculpture, The Winged Victory of Samothrace. The French even coined the term, draperie mouillée, for drapery that looks as if it is wet. The model is not only wrapped, but the pose also exudes feelings of rapture; and the shadows reflect a sense of being deeply engrossed with the figure, reiterating a state of being rapt. Ideally, the shadows help reflect a narrative and are shadows in name only.

Shadow Play Series
Although the nude has been a constant in my work since 1972, shadows have come and gone in various series of drawings. When I began the Shadow Play series in 2009, shadows became integral to this series of the nude. Exploring the narrative interplay between the nude and shadows and how they combine forces to generate conversations about humanity continues in that series as well as other shadow related themes. In the each of the shadow series, the voice of the narrative can come from various sources. For example, it is the shadow that commands the male nude in the drawing titled Jump! and in Don’t Push! the female nude cautions the group of shadows that are crowding her. The influence of other artists may also be reflected, such as Toulouse-Lautrec in Yvette’s Gloves and Rodin in The Shade or Maillol in Kullen.

As an artist, Ellen Soderquist creates intelligent and sensuous graphite drawings of the nude human body. As a teacher of life drawing, she advocates that her students learn the role of the nude in the history of art and that they communicate their ideas about humanity through their work. As a lecturer and an author, she delves into the past to bring the complex relevance of the unclothed human body to the consciousness of contemporary culture.
Ellen Soderquist
Sep 8, 2018

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