Shalisha Erenberg is a Chicagoland painter and the latest artist to be featured in our ongoing exhibition series Local Art @ EPL. Her show – titled Articulated Impressions – is currently on display on the 2nd floor of EPL’s Main library where you can catch it through March 31st. Influenced by her studies with figurative abstractionist Vera Klement, her bold, textured paintings strive to “evoke strong emotions and feelings” in those who view them. You can learn more about Ms. Erenberg’s work by visiting her website, and you can meet her at a reception on Thursday, March 20th at 7 pm. We recently spoke with Ms. Erenberg via email about her artistic origins, creative process, and future plans.
Evanston Public Library: Can you tell us a little about your background as an artist? How did you get started in art? Was there something specific in your life that sparked a need to create? What drove you in the beginning? What drives you now?
Shalisha Erenberg: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an artist. My parents told me that even at 3 and 4 years old I ran around with a pencil or pen in my hand and was busy creating imaginative drawings. There have been times in my life where I’ve taken a hiatus or pushed the art aside but it resurfaces. It’s not a conscious thing, it just comes out.
My parents encouraged me in my artistic endeavors, and I took drawing and painting classes – from the Suburban Fine Arts Center (now The Arts Center in Highland Park) to the School of the Art Institute. The culmination of my training was working in Vera Klement’s studio. She’s an amazing Chicago expressionist artist, and I’ll always be grateful to her for encouraging me to develop my own unique style.
EPL: How do you describe your art? Do you see yourself as fitting in with any particular artistic movements or styles? Do you work in any other mediums?
SE: I would describe it as colorful and textured abstract art. I think that the title of this show is aptly named because I paint impressions and want the viewer to experience and feel a connection to my paintings. Having visited museums and studied art history, I have been influenced by different styles but wouldn’t place myself with any particular movement.
I love working with acrylic and mixed media. Acrylics these days are so vibrant and the mixed media allows me to do some interesting experimentation. I’ve also loved working with watercolors and oils.
EPL: Can you give us a window into your creative process? When and where do you work?
SE: I work at home. Some canvases take months to complete, some take hours. For me, the creative process has always been exactly that: a process. I don’t experience a genius “aha!” moment. It’s more like a series of smaller “aha” moments after puzzling over an idea.
For example, I had been working on an Autumn series using fall colors and my sister said out of the blue, “Why don’t you do a Winter series?” I’m pretty sure I thought she was crazy at the time. I replied, “Snow on a white canvas? How would that even work?” Well, that challenge sat with me for months. I thought back to my trip to Antarctica, to the different kinds of snow and how the light plays upon the surfaces. Through experimentation and some very cool, small “aha” moments, I came up with the series that you can see now at the library.
EPL: What are your future goals and plans as an artist?
SE: My grandmother lived almost to 98 and painted up until the end. She had enough paintings planned to keep her busy well into her 100’s. With that kind of inspiration, I would say that I plan to continue to work hard for as long as I’m able to show people the view of the world through my eyes.
EPL: How do you find Evanston and the Chicagoland area as a place to work and exhibit as an artist? What inspires you as an artist about the community where you live?
SE: I am blessed to live in the Chicagoland area which I feel has a tremendous arts and music scene. Evanston continues to have a vibrant arts community. It’s an honor and a pleasure to exhibit at the Evanston Public Library.
Interview by Russell J.