Lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio
Elaine Hullihen combines the tactile space of bodily experience with the materiality of used objects to investigate the polarities between comfort/discomfort, stillness/movement, and subject/object. She uses the tools of sculpture, performance, video, storytelling, collage, fiber arts and printmaking to make work that toggles between the studio, collaboration, public art, and education.
Her work has been shown at Garage Door Gallery (2022), Morgan Conservatory (2021), Galleria Garage (2021), Worthington Yards (2020), Rooms to Let (2018 and 2021), Maelstrom Collaborative Arts (2019-2021), Cleveland Public Theatre (2015-2019) and SPACES Gallery (2009). She has worked collaboratively on a number of projects including as a member of Cleveland, Ohio’s first Learning Lab cohort with Center for Performance and Civic Practice and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (2018-19). It resulted in a collaboration with Frontline Service (2019-20). She is a longtime program coordinator and arts and yoga instructor with Fostering Hope (2014-). She has also worked on numerous theatrical productions, most recently as set/prop designer for The Blind at Cleveland Institute of Music (2022).
She has participated in residency programs with Aguafuerte Taller in Santiago, Chile (2018), Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden, Scotland (2009), and 7 Stock in Dresden, Germany (2007). She earned a BFA in Sculpture with a minor in Theatre in 2007 at Kent State University and is a 2023 MFA candidate in Interdisciplinary Arts at Sierra Nevada University.
I use a variety of materials, frequently fabrics/fibers, that have lived a life before they became art. I look for vibrant interactions that create energy between materials and draw the viewer into a sense of tactility. Used materials, especially clothing, connect me to both the personal and the social in important ways.
I think of the personal because fabric is often intimate to the body and its specificity can elicit thoughts of memory, their/our inevitable decay, and the passage of time. Fabrics are used to warm, swaddle, comfort, rest, and can have a significant role in healing. Fabric that has lived with a body may carry physical remnants such as skin cells, sweat, hair, etc.
In addition, the ubiquity of fabric connects it to the social. I think of my own waste not/ want not economics that connect to class and environmental concerns, fast fashion consumerism, and, last but not least, the well-worn metaphors that arise with the process of weaving and our interdependency as humans.
These ideas are integrated into my work through the themes of presence, embodiment, and systems of support. By thinking about healing, communication, containment and connection/disconnection, I want viewers to enter a familiar, yet strange, thoughtful place of contemplation and creativity that gives potential for new ways of interacting with the world.