Ellen Frances Tuchman

Artist Statement


During the pandemic lockdown I found a path to work differently. The painted Mylar film that had supported my hand-painted paper quills morphed into my childhood hair ribbons. Suddenly enormous paintings became lap work to be fashioned from whatever I had at hand, bringing me full circle to my early needlework and college textile foundations.

The pieces were fraught with grief for a world lost, a mother gone, as I sewed and sewed. Was I making a shroud, a flag, or a hair shirt? Certain elemental facts in my work had not changed — the innate beauty masking difficult truths, the allusions to childhood and Froebel’s lessons, the pushmi-pullyu ambivalence of art v. craft, the importance of color as a beacon of thoughts and feelings.

The history of patchwork, and fashioning totems from detritus, has been explored extensively. However, I create work that is unique. The techniques are timeless but I push them to the extreme, forging traditional handicrafts into modern art, while maintaining the familiar trope of women’s unappreciated hours of repetitive labor. Sewing quills to ribbons, joining them to create a new kind of painting, while watching too much news, made me remember the character of Madame Defarge in The Tale of Two Cities, and the parallels of bloodthirsty crowds, resurrection, political upheaval, Greek Fates “who determined human destinies, and in particular the span of a person’s life and his allotment of misery and suffering.” *

My use of paper quills may descend from medieval reliquary objects and Victorian tea caddies, but they are not uniform, monochrome, or glued onto a substructure. I sew everything together because I love the line drawing created by the stitches assembling thousands of bits of coiled paper.

SHEET MUSIC alludes to light sticks, musical notation, the passage of time, the yellow brick road, nuclear warning signs, snakes, maypoles, police tape – all things we faced last year.

PIKNIK captures the evanescence of a summer dawn, a past and future of simple pleasures we missed last year.

WINNER TAKE ALL and SCORE tell complex tales intricately woven of nostalgia, where ephemera and souvenirs weave associative paths between past and present. An idealized world battles pop culture. The READ ‘EM AND WEEP SERIES presents a favorite vehicle of mine — serial imagery — and introduce digital collages of my older paintings as the substructure. The playing cards and match covers speak of sinful indulgence, chance, impermanence and a wily acknowledgement that dated imagery that can now offend. 


Beneath the pretty veneer and couture beading lays some hard truths. I spin geometric modernism into a painted form that is assemblage, textiles, and drawing. It is something different; something delicate and fragile, beautiful, and most of all, tough as nails.



Tuchman’s work is unique, a precursor to current surface, textile, and materialism trends seen in painting. She is a featured artist in Texas Artists Now, by Catherine Anspon. Public collections include the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Lancaster Hotel, Houston, the Federal Reserve Branch in Houston, the Harris County Courthouse, Pasadena, TX and the Harold Simmons Foundation, Dallas. Her work is frequently seen in Houston, where she’s been represented by koelsch haus gallery since 2003. Her most recent solo exhibit in Dallas was COUNT THE HOURS, at Barry Whistler Gallery in 2017.


b. 1954, Los Angeles, CA
Lives and works in Dallas, TX and Redondo Beach, CA
2022 70 Miles North of Somewhere, Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas
2021 Make Room for Tomorrow, koelsch gallery, Houston
2019 The B-Side Redux, Cliff Gallery, Mountain View College, Dallas **
2018 R+R: reveries and responses, koelsch haus gallery, Houston **
2017 Count the Hours, Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas **
2012 The B-Side, koelsch gallery, Houston **
Houston Art Fair, FOCUS booth with koelsch gallery, Houston
2009 Out of My Mind, PanAmerican ArtProjects, Dallas **
Travelogue, koelsch gallery, Houston **
2007 Flights of Fancy, PanAmerican ArtProjects, Miami
2006 George Billis Gallery, Los Angeles
2005 Chapel Chromatica, Lawndale Art Center, Houston
Vistarama, Koelsch Gallery, Houston, TX
2004 Chapel Chromatica, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (THE MAC), Dallas, TX
Translucence of Time, Sylvia Schmidt Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Remember When, Koelsch Gallery, Houston, TX
2003 Chapel Chromatica, Four Walls, Fort Worth, TX
Installation at Travis Tower, Houston, TX
Memento Mori, C. G. Jung Center, Houston, TX
2002 Chronometry, North Harris College, Houston, TX (lecture)
2001 The Four Seasons, Irving Arts Center, Irving, TX (catalogue)
traveled to Galveston Art Center, Galveston, TX (January 2002)
The Four Seasons, Four Walls, Fort Worth, TX
1996 Sentimental Journey, Hebrew Home for the Aged, Riverdale, NY
1995 One Urban Man, Two Suburban Women, Marie Park, Dallas, TX
1993 Gardens and Fairy Tales, Artisana/Gallery 2526, Dallas, TX.
1992 Recent Works, Hickory Street Annex, Dallas, TX
1982 Karl Bornstein Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1981 Kathryn Markel Gallery, New York, NY
1980 Alexander Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2023 Marking Space, Irving Art Center, Irving, TX
2022 Materials Hard and Soft, Denton Arts Council, Denton, TX

curator: Tanya Aguiñiga

2021 The Art Of Paper, Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Spring, TX
2020 Stripes: Slivers, bG Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
2018 Ears Of Buddha: Mystical Power, koelsch haus gallery, Houston, TX
2013 Idle Hands, Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Collage: Now, Then & Again, Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas, TX
2011 Obsessive Worlds, The Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, TX; traveled to Alexandria

Art Museum, Alexandria, LA (catalogue)
2007 Bookworks, Galveston Art Center, Galveston, TX
2006 Biennial Southwest, The Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, NM

Assistance League of Houston CELEBRATES TEXAS ART 2006, Houston, TX
2005 Layered, Stacked, Assembled, Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington, TX
Galerie Sho, Tokyo, Japan
palm beach 3 contemporary art fair, Pan American Gallery booth, Palm Beach, FL
San Francisco International Art Fair, Koelsch Gallery booth, San Francisco, CA
2004 OBJECTification, The Gallery at the University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
curator: Nicholas Wood (brochure with essay by Charissa N. Terranova)
AAF Contemporary Art Fair, Koelsch Gallery booth 203 New York, NY
Contemporary Feminism, Koelsch Gallery, Houston, TX
Pan American Art Gallery, Dallas, TX
scope- la, Koelsch Gallery, room 201, Los Angeles, CA
100 Drawings, University of Dallas, Haggerty Gallery, Irving, TX
Material Possibilities, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX
RED, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
Choice Art, for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Sotheby’s, New York, NY
2003 Fragments, University of Dallas, Haggerty Gallery, Irving, TX
Juror’s Choice: The 2003 Member’s Show, Women and Their Work, Austin, TX
Mark Making: A Drawing Show, Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington, TX
way cool, Koelsch Gallery, Houston, TX
2001 Juror’s Choice: The 2002 Member’s Show, Women and Their Work, Austin, TX
Women Image: Image of Women, The Gallery at Dodds Hall, University of New Haven, CT
CraftHouston 2002: Texas, The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston, TX
curator: Kenneth Trapp (catalogue; traveled to the Buddy Holly Center, Lubbock, South Texas
Institute for the Arts, Corpus Christi and the Galveston Art Center)
Dumbo and Beyond, Davis Gallery, Austin, TX, curator: Marjorie Moore
Pink Perspectives, Studio 107, Austin, TX, curator: Catherine Dossin (catalogue)
Notions, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC), Dallas, TX
Patrons, Lovers and Other Romantics, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
2000 Joyce Scott and Friends Revisited: Pushing the Boundaries of Beadwork, Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge,

Material World, Marta Hewett Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
Beadwork in America, Haydon Gallery, Lincoln, NE (traveled to Hastings College; catalogue)
1999 Masquerade, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, TX
Art in the Metroplex 1999, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX, juror: Clint Willour
A Fresh Look at Texas Art: The MAC’s Irregular, Now and Then, Art-World Honcho Juried Exhibition,
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas, TX, juror: Terrie Sultan
Critic’s Choice: Dallas Visual Art Center at the African American Art Museum, Dallas, TX,
juror: James Surls

1998 Self Portraits: Up Close and Personal, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, TX
Mirror, Mirror, Contemporary Art Center, Fort Worth, TX
1997 Celebration, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, Texas
Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, Contemporary Art Center, Fort Worth, TX, juror: Charles Wylie
National Works On Paper, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX, juror: Barry Whistle
1996 Hope, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, TX
1995 Basket/Case, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, TX
1994 A Show Of Hands, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, TX
The Exquisite Corpse, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC), Dallas, TX
1993 Small Treasures, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, TX
1992 Tempus Fugit, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, TX
1991 A Visual Discourse, Peregrine Gallery, Dallas, TX
Time Is Relative, Beverly Gordon Gallery, Dallas, TX
Silent Stories, Peregrine Gallery, Dallas, TX
1990 How I See Who I Am, Beverly Gordon Gallery, Dallas, TX
1989 A Family Of Artists, 500X Gallery, Dallas, TX, curator: Suzanne Weaver
Family Icons, Peregrine Gallery, Dallas, TX
1987 Precious, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY, curator: Thomas Sokolowski