Elizabeth Gorcey Interview
Elizabeth Gorcey has devoted her life to the pursuit of art that intrigues her, stories that compel her, and the elevation of authentic voices that must be heard. Her dedication has allowed Elizabeth to discover and pursue her own creativity and talents while inspiring others to do the same. Elizabeth has extensive experience working in the cinematic field as an actress, director, and producer. She used this knowledge in her fight to create documentary style films that shed light on the stories of the unnoticed, the unheard. By boldly exploring socially taboo topics like aging and disability, she translated the lives of others into compelling films. Elizabeth’s creative endeavours won awards and advocated for individuals and communities the world had pushed aside.
Compelled by her love of visual arts, Elizabeth became a painter when she was a little girl. Winning an award at the age of 10 for her watercolour Chinese Tea Pot, which was displayed in the New Jersey State Museum. She continued to win awards in painting and sculpture in the years that followed, which led her to France to study under Martine Vaguel. Elizabeth continues to paint, but now with oil colours, her abstract feelings, and ideas into fruition.
There is an atmosphere of peeling back layers in your paintings like the figure is emerging or being exposed through the painted surface. Could you speak to this observation and your intent behind uncovering what appears in your work?
As people we tend to wear masks as we are afraid to show ourselves. I'm interested in seeing the real person, not just what they present. Humans are complex beings and trying to understand them is similar to peeling an onion. I love all types of paint, but specifically oil paint because to me it has the most depth.
Can you tell us about your background and how it relates to your artwork that focuses on the human condition?
I was very sensitive and empathic as a kid. I was confused by all the feelings I would feel when I was around people. I didn't know sometimes why I was feeling the way I was. I didn't know how to express these feelings; instead I gained over 85 pounds eating through them. In my current paintings, I look past the façade of a person and look instead at what they are going through, and it is this I paint.
"I think the physical exterior is not who the person is. It's not the essence of the human being. I like to look deeper, as each emotion is unique, each portrait should too be uniquely detailed in its own way."
You take a keen interest in people, but you do not personify the subjects in your paintings. Do you see each subject as a reflection of the universal human experience?
Yes. I think the physical exterior is not who the person is. It's not the essence of the human being. I like to look deeper, as each emotion is unique, each portrait should too be uniquely detailed in it's own way.
I would like to explore the cross over between your theatre training and painting. Do you find that the work of playwrights inspire and inform the characters you depict in your paintings, particularly in regards to their inner struggles and motivations?
When I was acting I loved the study of the character. I always came up with back stories for my characters and very specific details of their lives. Yes, I do find that the work of playwrights inspire and inform the characters in paintings and very much the inner struggles and motivations.
"Creating is nourishment for my soul"
And how do you think your exploration of these universal human experiences can connect with audiences on a deep emotional level, similar to the way Shakespeare's works continue to resonate with people centuries after they were written?
I feel like people do connect on universal emotional levels with my painting because we all have at some point heartache, suffering, pain, joy, and frustration, etc. My paintings are inviting people to say, 'Wow, I just felt like that yesterday when I hit into the trash can and damaged my car". Or. "I have been feeling that way since my boss has been bullying me and I left my job." I have gotten many emails, texts from a variety of people that they have recognized their feelings in my paintings and feel acknowledged. No matter how much our world has gone technical, we are still human beings with emotions and that will never change
How do you approach capturing the highs, lows, anxieties and triumphs of humanity in your artwork, and what techniques do you use to convey these emotions?
I love oil paints because they have the capability to create depth. I do not shy away from shades of the brighter spectrum, they highlight whatever human conflict I attempt to illustrate. I like old canvases that I might have painted on when I was 12 years old and I repaint over them. I love this because it gives my paintings texture and layers. I often use sculpting tools with the paints, as well as rags. These techniques lend to a more textured, layered feeling of complexity.
How do you want viewers to perceive your artwork and what emotions do you hope they experience when looking at it?
I want viewers to know it's okay to feel whatever feelings they may be feeling. You will find many of my pieces without resolve, and I have tried to make them exudes some sort of tension that might provide a realization of the consumer of my art. "Darkness" should be revealed in as much as how we perceive "light".
“As people we tend to wear masks as we are afraid to show ourselves. I'm interested in seeing the real person, not just what they present. Humans are complex beings and trying to understand them is similar to peeling an onion.”
How important is it for you to make a connection with viewers through your artwork, and how do you go about achieving that?
I feel in life the most important thing we can do is connect. I would say a 'universal theme' is that everyone wants to be seen, heard and to know they matter. Oprah Winfrey said it best, "three things every human being wants most are to be seen, heard, and understood. This is the essence of empathy." By the way, I love Oprah. I can't see that everyone will connect to me or my work, but I do look to see where someone is coming from, and usually make a connection from their point of view. By the design of my work, the idea viewer would be able decipher a meaning that I have not otherwise laid out for them.
How does your artwork relate to the concept of individuation in Jungian psychology, and how do you see your paintings as contributing to the process of differentiating the self out of conscious and unconscious elements?
I can tell you that my painting style is very different then when I was a kid. As a kid, I would set up a still life or take a picture of flowers or my dog and would have the intention of painting that. Now as an adult I allow my subconscious to communicate what I couldn't say otherwise, on canvas without a set subject, I have found that emotion and ideas are un-constricted. I allow - I don't try to paint a picture, instead I wait until whatever is ready to come out. I inspire myself with images or photo's but let what comes out on canvas show itself.
© 2023 COPYRIGHT retained by Elizabeth Gorcey