B.F.A., M.F.A., Rhode Island School of Design
Elizabeth Christy Kopf Professor Emerita of Art
Painter focused on representing both seen and unseen (observed by the other senses) elements of the environment.
I am a painter whose most recent work is a series of large semi-abstract landscapes incorporating representations of unseen elements (bird calls, insect trajectories, temperature changes, awareness of smells and humidity, historic information, personal memories, distant sounds both natural and mechanical) into what might be considered traditional landscape. These works are a natural continuation of a forty year pursuit of the visual possibilities inherent in combining interests in archaeology, the philosophy of time, cosmology and the silent world of particle physics. The unseen or hidden elements appear in layers in my mind and intersect with what is seen. The landscape is a resting place where these elements collide. I divide studio time between Providence RI and Tunbridge VT, and have had studios in Rome and NYC from time to time.
I was educated at the Rhode Island School of Design, receiving a BFA (European Honors Program), MAT and MFA. I then taught for two years in the Providence Public School system, while teaching both drawing and painting at RISD and acting as a Faculty Facilitator for Antioch’s University Without Walls Program.
In 1974 I won the Rome Prize in Painting, a two-year fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. This was a life-changing experience and an important introduction to the intersection of my artistic and scholarly pursuits along those of the other prize winners. While at the Academy, I made the first of many visits to Egypt, following an interest in archaeology that was initiated in me as a small child growing up in New York City. (I was once caught roller-skating through the mummy galleries of the Metropolitan Museum.) I have returned as a Visiting Artist during many sabbatical leaves to live and work in the rich life of the artistic/academic community at the American Academy in Rome.
In 1976 I started teaching at Wellesley College and had my first one woman exhibition at the Terry Dintenfass Gallery in NYC. Since then, I have shown regularly in New York City, and was represented exclusively by the Berry-Hill Galleries, NYC, for over twenty years. I have shown in numerous other galleries but do not have exclusive representation. I have had many one-woman exhibitions in the US and Europe, including retrospective shows at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design; the Fuller Museum in Brockton, MA; the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; and most recently a four month long retrospective at the Newport (RI) Art Museum.
I became a passionate teacher and at Commencement in 2004 I was awarded the Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching. I have been invited to many schools as a guest lecturer and teacher and in 1991-1992 was a Visiting Professor at Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies.
In addition to the Rome Prize I’ve received numerous prizes and awards, including the Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, an Individual Artist Grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and faculty awards from Wellesley College supporting projects ranging from street archaeology in the Jewelry District of Providence, RI, to X-ray as a drawing technique. I have also received various research travel awards to destinations as different as the Bohemia of Renaissance astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, and the Theban necropolis in Egypt.
I am a serious gardener and cook and love the seamless days spent in the studio, fields, forests, gardens, and kitchen in our Vermont farm. I have a huge eclectic collection of antique postcards with my husband, Frank Muhly. We have one son, the composer Nico Muhly whose most recent opera, Two Boys, opened at the Metropolitan Opera in October 2013.