show write up at Aeqai by Liz Mcgrath

November 19th, 2016  |  Published in October/November 2016

“It was in the black mirror of Anarchism that Surrealism first recognized itself.”

-Andre Breton

THE TRANSMUTATION OF ELDEN & OLIVER by Elizabeth McGrath, Mixed media, 10 3/4″ W x 7 3/4″ H x 4″ D

THE TRANSMUTATION OF ELDEN & OLIVER by Elizabeth McGrath, Mixed media, 10 3/4″ W x 7 3/4″ H x 4″ D

THE TRANSMUTATION OF ELDEN & OLIVER by Elizabeth McGrath, Mixed media, 10 3/4″ W x 7 3/4″ H x 4″ D

The timeliness of Elizabeth McGrath’s exhibition at Corey Helford Gallery strikes a seemingly eerie chord, given our president elect’s invocation of a flawed nostalgia and desire to return to a “better time.” Its title, “Dark Howl,” is a direct reference to Allen Ginsberg’s prophetic 1959 poem which attacked our nation’s justice and health systems for stunting the creativity and genius of a marginalized community encompassing forward thinkers whose involvement with drugs, homosexuality and political outrage were deemed deviant by what Ginsberg defined as the “machine.”

Ginsberg’s poem also underscored the injustices, discrimination and abuse endured by those who fell outside the mainstream. While some persevered, many were driven to madness, such as Ginsberg’s friend, Carl Solomon, whom Ginsberg met while he himself was institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital and to whom he later dedicated his poem.

BUNNY OCTOPUS by Elizabeth McGrath, Mixed media, 5 3/4″ W x 9 3/4″ H x 4 1/4″ D

BUNNY OCTOPUS by Elizabeth McGrath, Mixed media, 5 3/4″ W x 9 3/4″ H x 4 1/4″ D

Like the misfits, nonconformists and rebels that Ginsberg characterized in “Howl,” Elizabeth McGrath’s sculptures appear like mutants whose innocence has been compromised by a conservative populous, intolerant of individual expression. Take for instance The Transmutation of Elden & Oliver (2016), a two-headed unicorn that simultaneously conveys whimsy and distress. While McGrath’s depiction embodies a childlike innocence characterized by its porcelain-like body and brilliant doe eyes, the piece also invokes a sinister aura. Not only does the folkloric creature have two heads, but its elongated torso houses a diorama in which a microscopic unicorn, neither blemished nor deformed, grazes peacefully in a green pasture.

THE HUNTER’S FOLLY by Elizabeth McGrath, Mixed media with 50,000 + Swarovski Crystals & 24K gold leaf, 2 1/2″ W x 19 /2″ H x 17″ D

THE HUNTER’S FOLLY by Elizabeth McGrath, Mixed media with 50,000 + Swarovski Crystals & 24K gold leaf, 2 1/2″ W x 19 /2″ H x 17″ D

Bunny Octopus(2016) also channels a similar subtlety that imbues a disquieting dichotomy. The upper half of the sculpture portrays the front paws and head of a rabbit whose neck is adorned by a white ribbon, tied in a neat bow. While this initial image invokes the comfort and security that stuffed animals offer young children, the sculpture’s posterior leaves viewers conflicted. This is because the rabbit’s anterior is supported by five octopus arms riddled with suction cups rather than two salubrious hind legs and a cotton-like tail. In addition, the rabbit’s expression seems to convey discontent and/or trepidation, indicative of resentment or repressed anger.


The nexus of “Dark Howl” is The Hunter’s Folly (2016). Adorned with 50,000 Swarovski Crystals, the stunning piece depicts a three-headed fawn whose hooves, ears and eyes are embellished in gold leaf. An undeniable eye-catcher, McGrath’s portrayal of the woodland creature aptly captures the animal’s frangible vulnerability in its initial hours of life. Its stance invokes Walt Disney’s depiction of Bambi and his first attempt at standing just hours after birth. Like the animated newborn, McGrath’s interpretation appears with legs splayed to support its trunk, neck and head. The expressions on each of the fawn’s faces, however, are what incite viewers to see the work as more than just spectacle. While one appears content, the other two share emotions of both caution and pain, perhaps foretelling of a precarious future.

A true surrealist, McGrath leverages her work to illuminate the fine line between the sound and irrational, the conventional and unusual, the rational and insane. While we, as a country, have made great strides since Ginsberg wrote “Howl,” McGrath’s work serves as an apt reminder of the conflict that still accompanies intolerance during this pivotal time when our nation hovers over vast divisions.

“Dark Howl” runs through December 10 at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. For more information, please visit the gallery’s website at

–Anise Stevens

My First Newsletter/Blog by Liz Mcgrath

its been a while, I hope life has been good to you! I wanted to share some news and events with you. First, my new website- made possible by Morgans lovley photos . Also not an event, but something I'm excited about, is my feature in the current issue of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine.

My first solo show in LA in 6 years "Dark Howl",  is currently on view till December 10th at the Corey Helford Gallery, in gallery 3. The show closes this Saturday and I will be there from 12-4 with free buttons. Heres a great write up about the show -AEQAI. In gallery 1 at 2pm artist Natalia Fabia will give a talk about her exhibited works with artist Gary Baseman. please join us if you can!

Also on the 10th is the Best Friends Painted Pets benefit show at the Copro Nason Gallery from 2-6, where there will be onsite pet adoptions in case you are looking for a forever friend!

On View till Dec. 23rd at the Gregorio Escalante Gallery in China Town "Dark Surrealism" curated by Chet Zar and Greg Escalante features a piece I made with artist Brian Poor, the Damn 'O meter. It is an interactive animatronic fortune teller who, for 25 cents, will accurately tell you if you are going to heaven or hell. Be sure to check out the bottom gallery where the inspired sculptures of Myron Conan Dyal are exhibited.

December 16-18 - from 12-5 - Open Studios Holiday get together, Tiny Art Fair, and Creepy Crafts Bazaar!

The Tiny Art Fair will be by appointment only on the 16th and 17th, but on the 18th we will have a door man from 12-5 pm.

The Tiny Art Fair will feature works by my studio mates - Karen HsiaoDan QuintanaEsao Andrews and myself. Karen, will have a variety of unique creations including her exquisitely painted and sculpted fetus heads, so cute- i want to them all!! Dan  has been working on 16 of these gorgeous tiny paintings, I hear all the finished ones might already be sold out, and i can see why!  Esao will have a few of his rare and very collectable Ap prints, sketches and drawings, and I will have a couple of little tattooed animals.

December 18th from 12-5pm   Open Studio holiday get together and Creepy Crafts Holiday Bazaar

For the Creepy Crafts Bazaar (which will be located in the west wing of the studio's Grothel room) My best friends Christa Collins and Winter Rosebud are hand crafting several special items, including their famous poop soaps. Infused with magical ingredients such as Kanye's tears and Ghandi's urine, its the perfect gift for all your shitty friends! Looking for that dangerously sexy one of a kind jacket that you'll never find in the same stores the mere mortals shop at? Then come see what Hazmat will have hanging around. For that special someone who never turns down food, Annie at Annies Edible's will be baking up a batch of her "special" bacon chocolate chip cookies. And i may have some ornaments, butcher knifes and whatever else I can come up with!

hope to see you soon!  If you would like to make an appointment for the 16th or 17th or have any questions please email me at with "TINY ART FAIR" or "creepy crafts bazaar " or both - in the subject line

the Studio is located at 432 s. main st #1, LA CA 90013. We will have a door man at the gate from 12-5 on the 18th. The password is Lake Titticaca, Because this is a private event i ask that you keep this friend of friends only! thanks!!

pss- If you find yourself at a hotel and your feeling bad about tossing those half way used shampoos and soaps, don't throw them out! bag them up and bring them! I'm taking up a collection of travel sized toiletries to pass out to some of our homeless neighbors.