Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Greenbacks in Washington DC

July 26th, 2016

This week, the Greenbacks Project comes to Washington DC.

The Greenbacks Project explores ties between the US and China through our currencies. I am carving 500 USD and 500 Chinese Yuan into a large-scale artwork. Stop by and view the work in progress, and contribute a word you think of, related to money.

Greenbacks in Progress

Greenbacks in progress, Beijing, January 2016

Event photos to come soon.

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APEC Blue in Santa Monica

June 17th, 2016

"APEC Blue" is the name Beijingers gave the city's brilliant skies for a week in winter 2014. Ten thousand factories had been closed, and millions of cars banned before and during the APEC conference. The city shut down as world leaders – including President Obama – converged on China's capital. Roads were peaceful, the air was fresh, and we were chilled as coal-fired heating was turned off to ensure skies remained clear. 

APEC Blue Study Version 1

APEC Blue, Cyanotype painting on handmade paper, 14 x 20 inches (36x5cm), 2016

"APEC Blue" icorporates traditional Chinese Cracked Ice motifs, and will be used as a design for a quality pollution mask.

Beneath a thin layer of gesso are printed texts in English and Chinese, from articles on Beijing's 'airpocalypse' incidents (when hazardous pollution rises to levels beyond index) and the Chinese government's threats to the US Embassy after they broadcasted real pollution levels.

If you're in the Los Angeles area, you're welcome to view the artwork at bG Gallery's Spectrum Gestalt show. It opens tomorrow 18th June, 5-8pm.

I'll be present at "Reception 2", Saturday 2nd July from 4-7pm.

You're welcome to meet me there.

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Greenbacks in London Exhibition, 13th May

May 12th, 2016

If you're in London this week, you can see my latest artwork at Lubomirov / Angus-Huges Friday 13th May, 6-9pm, an experimental piece exploring international economic systems, made of cut paper we use every day: money.


Comitragedy (2016), Acrylic on money (2 CNY and 2 USD), 31 x 13cm (12 x 5 in) 

Verso of money remains green. Temporarily mounted on gold Chinese paper typically burned or folded to bring wealth to ancestors or the home

An extension of the Greenbacks Project, where I've been asking participants in Hong Kong and Beijing (and in Summer 2016 - the US) to share words they thought of, when they thought about money. I then carved the responses into 500 USD$1s and five hundred Chinese 1 Yuan bills, which will be assembled into a large-scale paper tapestry. Many responses were emotional: some miserable and trapped, others had sensations of freedom and happiness. Comitragedy’s two-sided image was created with references to a Chinese opera mask (L) and a Greek theater mask from Athens (R).

This artwork will be shown in a curatorial project at Lubomirorov/Angus-Hughes in Hackney. Work in this group show has a maximum price of 240 Euro, as a reminder of the financial strait of Greek citizens who can withdraw maximum 60 Euro per day. I decided to create a pricing structure that incorporates similar ratios to international production costs of objects we use every day that were made in China, into a piece of art made in China. China is the production center for most goods used in the world today, and many of the costs associated with these products come from first world distribution networks, rather than labor costs.

The Greenbacks project desanctifies the pieces of paper used every day as currency of our lives. I return them to the material they're made of by covering recognizable aspects with paint, and rendering the money useless for anything but art.

Pricing methodology

Beijing’s minimum wage (where I live): 18.7CNY per hour (2.55 Euro at time of writing).

Total time for art production: 6 hours – designing, paper cutting, packing, and shipping to London (6 x 2.55 = 15.3 Euro)

Estimated shipping via FedEx: US$70 (62.11 Euro)

Materials cost: US$2 (1.77 Euro) + 2CNY (.27 Euro)

Exhibition Entry Fee: 12 pounds (15.29 Euro)

Total Artist Portion for the work: 94.75 Euro

Final price including gallery commisison: 189.48 Euro

You're welcome to stop by the gallery from 6-9pm this Friday 13th May to view the entire show, portions of which will later be exhibited at Art Athina in Athens, Greece.

Elizabeth Briel is an American artist who lives and works in Beijing

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StARTup Art Fair Installation, China Obscura

May 1st, 2016

China Obscura installation at StARTup Art Fair, San Francisco

Couch, carpet, shades of blue

Office Windows of the Great Dictator, 2015

Design: View into and out of Mao's office windows from his villa Meiling (Wuhan), a retreat he nicknamed "Home of the White Clouds and Yellow Cranes"

Mourning Chamber installation

Mourning Chamber in the Forbidden City, 2015

Design: View into and out of the mourning chamber built for Concubine Zhen by her sister. Zhen was reputedly thrown into a well by eunuchs by orders of Dowager Empress Cixi

Mourning Chamber in the Forbidden City

Assassin's Windows & Bedroom of Nostalgia The Martyr's Front Door Rebels' Hideout & Assassins' Windows

Doug setting up installation

Original Cyanotype paintings line the walls. Installation materials covering the floor were printed in Beijing and later donated to Artspan and Root Division, arts charities in San Francisco, for painting dropcloths.

More photos of the installation here.

Painting during opening night

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China Obscura Catalog

April 18th, 2016

China Obscura Catalog

A catalog of my China Obscura series will soon be available from Pixalib books.

You can preview and order it here.


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Art, Space and Transformations: San Francisco StARTup Fair 2016

March 5th, 2016

I'm excited to announce my China Obscura series will be part of the StARTup Art Fair in San Francisco, 29th April – 1st May 2016.

Windows to the Rebels' Hideout (detail)

For this exhibition, I will transform a two room junior suite of the Hotel del Sol with an installation of my Cyanotype paintings from floor to ceiling. Why exhibit in a hotel rather than a more conventional art fair? This venue is an ideal location for me to explore the confrontations of art with space and perception, in 360 degrees. Though I was born in the Bay Area (Vallejo), this is my first time exhibiting in the region.

If you're in the Bay Area or at the Art MRKT San Francisco next door from 29th April-1st May, hope to see you there. 

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DIY Art MFA Project

January 23rd, 2016


Several months ago, I decided to create a one year program to explore the art I was making, the art around me, and have the world's greatest contemporary artists as my teachers. For free. 

This project takes three main forms:

* Research of contemporary artists and concepts relevant to my work, listening to artists' lectures and watching documentaries and interviews, reading articles and books, etc. One artist or concept per week.

* Exploration of the art in my city and others I visit: participation in exhibitions, attending events, meeting new practitioners, and curating exhibitions in a private gallery. One event per week.

* Creation of work informed by the research, breaking out of media and methods I've become comfortable with, and making maximum use of my Beijing studio. Production of one complete series of paintings, and two multimedia installation projects.

Soon, my documentation will be available here: ArtMFA.com

These are methods which may be applied to a DIY art education no matter where you live. 

Image: The Great Dictator's Office Window, from the China Obscura Cyanotype painting series

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Exhibition at Workjam, 798 Arts District, Beijing

December 14th, 2015


The group exhibition runs from 27th December 2015 through 26th January 2016

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Greenbacks Project Hong Kong

November 22nd, 2015


First performance for the Greenbacks Project, Standard Chartered Bank, Central, Hong Kong – 22nd November

More about the participants and the project here.


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China Paper Exhibition

November 15th, 2015

Hanging Paper

Installing a giant sheet of handmade paper from Anhui province for an exhibition of my Chinese Paper Collection-in-Progress at YCIS Hong Kong gallery, on display until 1st January 2016

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