My artwork revolves around the time-intensive act of cutting intricate patterns using an utility knife. Moving my hands in the repetitive movements required by my work transforms my art practice into a meditative experience essential to my process. The themes of my art are centered on my attempts to connect my physical surroundings with the rich, complicated, internal and spiritual environments experienced within. The cut-out pattern interferes with the representational imagery, obstructing the seen with the unseen. No matter how many paper layers intersect with the photograph or drawing, the cut outs ultimately act as negative space, forming lines and shapes out of nothing. Despite the patterns’ clearly defined edges, they are actually invisible, like the experiences they represent.
Raised in California, Elise Wehle moved from her home to study art at Brigham Young University in the United States where she graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts. However, it wasn’t until she lived in southern Europe that she understood what kind of art she wanted to make. Visiting Granada’s Alhambra, an ancient palace covered in hand carved pattern, was an especially transformative experience. There in Andalucía, Spain, is where Wehle became captivated by the intricacy of design. Her artistic focus shifted, and she began incorporating dense repeating patterns in her own works on paper. Although the Alhambra was her original impetus, Wehle pulls inspiration from a variety of sources, including cathedrals, illuminated manuscripts, and patterns of all shapes and sizes, to manipulate portraits and landscapes into new creations. The unifying thread that runs through all her work is the interference of the image by geometric design.
Wehle’s artwork has been exhibited across Europe and the United States. Notably, the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design showed her work, and the Observer and Guardian featured her pieces in print and online. She continues to exhibit her work both nationally and internationally at art fairs and galleries.