Elliott Earls is a designer, performance artist, and musician. Earls’ hybrid multimedia work blurs distinctions between high and low, performance and object, design and art. Earls is currently Designer-In-Residence and head of the graduate graphic design program at Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work is part of numerous public and private collections including the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Miami Art Museum. The writer Rick Poynor has said of Elliott: "If ever a designer seemed like a certified oddball, pursuing a trajectory far removed from the obligations of institutional life, it is Earls. He is one of those unclassifiable, mutant blooms thrown up by the fractured landscape of 1990's graphic design."
Earls began his performance career in 1997 with a series of performances at Here, The Independent Art Center in New York City. In 1999 Earls was awarded an Emerging Artist grant by Manhattan's Wooster Group, and was a featured performer at the Wooster Group's Performing Garage. He has performed extensively in Europe and America at venues including; the ExitFestival at Maison des Arts et de la Culture in Créteil France, The Culture Mart Festival at Here in New York City, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis Minnesota, Experimenta 99 in Lisbon Portugal, and at Opera Totale in Venice, Italy. In May of 2002, Earls in association with California based Emigre Incorporated released Catfish, an experimental documentary film. Catfish traces Earls’ work from the lab to the stage in a highly manipulated digital film incorporating, animation, stop motion photography, drawing, typography and live action into a seamless performance documentary. In October 2009, Earls test screened his feature length narrative film The Saranay Motel at the Palladium theater in Birmingham, Michigan.
After years of solo musical work, in September 2005 Earls formed the band The Venomous Sons of Jonah and recorded The Sessions at Christ Church Cranbrook for Cash Advance Records. In January 2006 Earls wrote produced and performed Bull and Wounded Horse a multimedia performance piece and installation that debuted at Music Hall Detroit with special guests The Venomous Sons of Jonah. In April 2007 Earls wrote produced and performed The Saranay Motel a multimedia performance piece that once again debuted at Music Hall Detroit. In December 2008 Earls was commissioned by the Wolfsonian Museum to produce a new performance piece entitled Thoughts on Democracy. The performance piece debuted at the Wolfsonian Museum's special VIP opening at Art Basel Miami Beach 2008. Over the course of a six month period in 2009, Earls collaborated with Beverly Fishman, William Massie and Heather McGill on a multi-media installation for the AXA Art Insurance Corporation's VIP lounge at Art Basel Miami Beach 09. Upon the close of the event, the installation entitled Miami Viceroy .1 was acquisitioned to the permanent collection of the Miami Art Museum.
Earls has exhibited work at the Wolfsonian Museum, Flint Institute of Arts, Lincoln Center, Subliminal Projects and the Palazzo La Triennial Di Milano among many others. Earls spent September 2000 through May 2001 as Artist-in-Residence at Fabrica, Benetton's studio research center in Treviso, Italy. Earls has spent time at numerous American universities, and he has given workshops and lectures on design, culture and media in Europe and America.
In 2001 Earls was a finalist for the Chrysler National Design Award in New Media. Earls work has been comprehensively reviewed in numerous and diverse publications including The New York Times, Urb, Punk Planet, Heckler, Design Observer and Emigre Magazine.
Photo: Travis Roozee
Posts by Elliott Earls
OBSERVATORY: Make/Do (06.16.11)
OBSERVATORY: The Sentient and the Bag of Meat (04.29.10)