Elizabeth Axtman is a multidisciplinary artist who creates works on the complexities of race and humor. She received her BA from San Francisco State University in 2004 and completed her MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. She was also a participant in the Skowhegan School of Painting and Drawing in 2006 Summer Residency Program. She has participated in exhibitions at the Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, The Studio Museum of Harlem, NYC, The Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Kunsthalle Gwangju, Republic of Korea, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts Auckland, New Zealand, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, and The Kitchen, NYC. She has lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of the African Diaspora, DePaul University, and Sarah Lawrence College, and is a recipient of the Skowhegan Endowment for Scholarship Foundation, and Franklin Furnace Fund recipient in 2012. Her work has been reviewed in Art Forum, Art Papers, Houston Chronicle, and her video ‘American Classics’ was used as the lead image for the catalog from the much acclaimed exhibition Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women and the Moving Image Since 1970.
I am knocking on the door of my white birthright, my makeups beat and hair is laid with deep soul and much funk. But I don’t look familiar through the peephole, cuz this body is both marked and unmarked. As the daughter of an Afro-Panamanian mother and German American father, I play between representations of both, through performance. Can one be both an Other and another? Black is home. Black is there for me when I roam. My work is informed by the performance of the self. It is an attempt to represent the spectrum of emotions of the African American experience: the close juxtaposition of joy and rage, of comedy and tragedy as well as the periodic lunacy of pressing my face against the window to a party I am not invited to, even though I see my father up in there laughing and dancing all off beat.