Interviews

Angela Ellsworth on Her Ongoing Plural Wife Project, New Work, and the Museum of Walking

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With the recent admission by Mormon leaders and the discovery of six more sister wives, Ellsworth plans to figure out where they reside chronologically. Her Seer Bonnets function as stand-ins for the sister wives, which means that now Ellsworth wants to "figure out where those other six are within the series. I'm mostly intrigued by who these six are that were somehow left out of the original equation."

Currently, however, Ellsworth's focus within the Plural Wife Project is on a performance called Soundproofed. In 2014, she staged Soundproof Laboratory, a durational performance/public forum at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art featuring her sister wives trying to hear through walls by retooling everyday objects and using high-tech equipment. That experiment is informing her plans to stage an intervention at a Mormon-funded mall in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ellsworth was awarded a 2014 Art Matters grant for this project, called Soundproofed, which she's in the research phase of planning.

Ellsworth's newest body of work, "Volume I," is currently on display at the Joseph Gross Gallery at University of Arizona until April 10, 2015. The works are made from subtle objects that are often overlooked: a blank page, the spine of the book, or an unfolded cardboard box. Most of these objects are rubbed with graphite, providing them with a strange, industrial sheen. Though these works are quiet in comparison to Ellsworth's larger body of work that questions and disrupts Mormon history, they are as much about unearthing as anything else Ellsworth creates. These blank spaces that Ellsworth activates hint at a history; a history that warrants a closer examination. When Ellsworth began researching the Mormon past she had to look closely, digging for documents that may or may not exist. These works mimic that process.

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Mikey Estes
Contact: Mikey Estes