Eleanor Neal

16 x 15 monotype, 2016


I create art work that speaks to the empowerment of women, cultural identity, and history. I am intrigued by stories from the women of West Africa, Guadeloupe and the Gullah Islands near the Georgia Sea Coast who fought to survive in a world of darkness, enslavement and chaos. Their connection to water lead to a sense of empowerment. The flow of water represents birth, cleanliness, spirituality, power and movement, the journey to a new world for a new life.
It is this connection to water that drew me to the unique qualities of the Spanish Moss plant. Spanish Moss becomes the metaphor for survival by these women.
Like the Spanish Moss on the tree that holds water within to sustain life, these women survived in spite of their physical, psychological abuse and isolation. The tree on Ossabaw Island, Georgia can be dead, yet the Spanish Moss thrives amongst death.
Looking at today’s contemporary issues, I think about how we respond to what we feel threaten by or how we respond to people who are not like us. We view them as foreign or an outsider therefore do we respond with personal prejudices? We create a cultural isolation where our own prejudices, injustice, oppression, and powerlessness becomes a way of life. We believe It gives us power and control over others. One can live in society, speak the language and follow the rules of conduct only to be confronted with ignorance, myths, and stereotypes. Through lack of knowledge, respect and understanding for another race, gender, and social status a negative environment that promotes violence, fear, and destruction can occur.
My art work speaks to our differences, and our ability to respect each other’s differences and beliefs. The ink paintings are about energy, freedom, change, that become non-verbal floating spirit creatures. Cultural history permeants through the work where our sense of freedom comes from within, to create a personal connection. I want to create a place or space that gives us a feeling of self-worth, perseverance and the endurance to survive. Culture is a part of who I am and where I come from. I want to tell a story within these drawings that will lead to a universal place of exploration and nonjudgement.
Materials are important to my process. Treated papers, and beeswax, are twisted, crushed, torn, cut, and used to symbolize memories and place. The art works I create, the wax monotypes, collages, and abstract gestural drawings on canvas and paper resemble the complex, intricate, intertwining and interlacing and layering of nature with a connection to human presence.

I will continue to work through these narrative stories of places of order and disorder through a language of expressive mark-making and hues of textured paper monotypes and collages that symbolize the essence of belonging, survival and existence.


Eleanor received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her thesis exhibition was well received at the Sullivan Gallery at SAIC and was featured in the Chicago Gallery Guide, summer issue 2016.
Eleanor’s art work has been featured in Anamesa 2014, the journal of New York University’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. She has shown at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Norwalk, Connecticut in the International Footprint Biennial Exhibition curated by renowned artist Donald Sultan. Her work was recently exhibited at MOCA GA in Works on Paper: 1980-2013 Women from The Permanent Collection. Her work was exhibited at Hampton University Museum and featured in the International Review journal, where she won the prestigious Elizabeth Catlett Printmaking Award 2016, 2012. Eleanor will attend the prestigious Vermont Studio Center Residency Program in 2017. She is a Hambidge Creative Residency Fellow and has a studio at The Goat Farm Artists Center in Atlanta.