Anxious Landscapes revisits human constructs such as maps, topography, space, and architecture to highlight tensions between the realities and fictions of fabricated landscapes. Smyrniotis’s work seeks to demonstrate art’s ability to provoke emotional responses to climate change by focusing on humans’ relationship with their environments. Smyrniotis’s installation Dispossessed represents a surreal seascape of icebergs floating in the middle of a dark ocean. The icebergs are formed from layers of compressed snow that fell thousands of years ago. Each layer contains a mystery that will vanish as the ice melts. The Dispossessed creates an atmosphere of melancholic nostalgia for the disappearance of this primeval ice.
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Elena Smyrniotis, Grant Wood Fellow in Printmaking, is a multimedia installation artist with a background in architecture. She earned an MFA in printmaking from the University of Notre Dame, an MA in printmaking and drawing from the University of Saint Francis, and an MA in Architecture and Engineering from State Petroleum University (Ufa, Russia). Smyrniotis is interested in cross-disciplinary, collaborative, socially engaged practices that seek to address environmental justice and the climate crisis. Her large-scale installations investigate the relationship between architecture, abstracted topography, space, sound, and light to underscore environmental anxieties in constructed landscapes. As the 2020–2021 Grant Wood Fellow in Printmaking, Smyrniotis developed The Bee Project, a sustainable art installation created in collaboration with the UI Office of Community Engagement, the Grant Wood Art Colony, Indian Creek Nature Center, and Czech Village/New Bohemian District in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Her recent exhibitions include a solo show at PINEA-LINEA DA COSTA (Rota, Spain), Artlink Contemporary Gallery (Fort Wayne, IN), and the Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame, IN), where she received the Walter Beardsley Award in 2017. She is a regular participant in the International Art & Design Exhibition at Selcuk University (Konya, Turkey), and in 2018 was a guest of honor.
Smyrniotis has held fellowships and teaching positions in cultural institutions around the world. Most recently she was a fellow at the Rome Global Gateway in cooperation with the Capitoline Museums, the Hertziana Library, and Geographical Society of Italy in Rome; led a printmaking workshop at the Gems Metropole School in Dubai, UAE; and participated in a painting workshop at the Painting School of Montmiral in Montmiral, France. She has taught printmaking and drawing courses at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Saint Francis, and was the 2019 Visiting Artist at the School of Creative Arts at the University of Saint Francis. She is also a founder and director of the Art and Architectural School for Children in Ufa, Russia. As a member of a global community Smyrniotis embraces her international involvements and her commitment to education through culture.