Since returning from Madagascar in 2006, I have committed myself to silk painting. Silk was a currency for centuries on the Silk Road, connecting East and West. The closing of this trade route during the Crusades led to the discovery of North America through the search of alternate routes towards wealth. With this in mind, silk is a global material that has historically drawn humans together, for better or worse. The technique I use was first developed in India in the 2nd century. I collect images from a variety of American sources, i.e. paper currency guides and Time/Life publications. I arrange these images into collages which I eventually transfer by hand onto silk. As impersonal as historical reference can seem, I see it as a tool to unify humanity in an infinitely long and connected story. In the spirit of distinguishing myself, I am an American silk painter. I combine forms drawn from traditions of reason, faith, and method that speak to the simplest but most challenging questions we face as human beings.
A Richmond native and graduate of the Henrico Center for the Arts, textile painter Emily Erb (b. 1982) has lived and worked in Philadelphia, PA since 2001. In 2005, Erb completed her BFA in painting at the Tyler School of Art and later earned her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 2012. Although she was first introduced to silk painting while an undergraduate, Erb honed her skills while traveling to Madagascar for three months from 2005-2006; she then switched to painting exclusively on silk.
In 2012, Erb was nominated for a Joan Mitchell Grant Nomination. That same year, Erb received the Mabel Wilson Woodrow Award from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and People’s Choice Award from the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art for her reinterpretation of Picasso’s Guernica (1937) and her World Map painting (2011). The latter was also included in Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s groundbreaking exhibition State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now (September 13, 2014-January 19, 2015) in Bentonville, AK. World Map and one of the currency flags from Legal Tender are currently on view as part of the two traveling exhibitions at the Mint Museum in Charlotte as well as the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis.
Erb’s solo exhibition, Legal Tender , which features silk flag paintings depicting US paper currency from the nineteenth century has been exhibited at The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, DE (October 19, 2013-February 16, 2014), the Museum of American Finance in New York, NY (April-October 17, 2015). Erb was recently named a 2017 recipient of the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Venue InformationAlvin H. Butz Gallery
101 Founders Way
Bethlehem, PA 18015
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