Renee Hartig

Elaine Tolsma Harlow

Profile | Statement | Biography


Elaine Tolsma Harlow • Profile

Tiny eggs cradled in a nest look as though they could actually be held and protected, while moths appear on the verge of fluttering away.  Focusing on concepts of loss and longing, Elaine Tolsma Harlow constructs paintings that are both simple and powerful, fanciful yet rich with metaphor.  Depicting elements of nature with bold, vibrant colors, her combination of paint and collaged text breathes life into her work.  Her symbolism and vivid use of color marries the natural world with the complexities of human emotion, allowing the viewer to share something deeply personal with the artist. 

Since earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Calvin College, Tolsma Harlow has exhibited in West Michigan and her work has been collected nationally and internationally.  Her passion for the arts developed early in life when she expressed an interest in drawing, and she was delighted to discover that she could continue making art as a professional artist.  Today she works strictly in oil paint, especially enjoying its fluidity and the way it feels on a smooth, wooden surface. 

 


Elaine Tolsma Harlow • Statement

My latest still-life paintings are an exploration of profound loss, displacement, and the longing for home. I utilize the stark beauty of nature as a metaphor for feelings of fracture and isolation. Bowls and nests are left empty; their intended purpose left unfulfilled. The frustration of the eggs being separated from the nest represents our broken homes and lives. The objects within the paintings are isolated and disconnected even from the things around them. I try to achieve vastness of space within the confines of smaller paintings a contrast to the intimacy of the tiny eggs.

These paintings are in response to the trials I have faced while going through a bone marrow transplant for the treatment of leukemia. I spent 27 days in a hospital and four months living 2000 miles away from my home and support system. I stopped functioning as a normal human-being and became a shadow of who I once was.

More recently, I have been exploring what comes after being broken. The concepts of spring and recovery are just as profound as that of loss. How do we pick up the pieces? What keeps us striving further? Where does hope come from? I am beginning to address these powerful and challenging questions. Somewhere we reach a point where we are no longer just surviving but living. Life becomes about being whole and, more importantly, holy.

 


Elaine Tolsma Harlow • Biography

Education

1994
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan Life drawing class

1988-1992
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan Bachelor of Fine Arts

Selected Exhibitions

2016
"sELECTED Works", LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan

"Toast", LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

"Everyone in the Pool", LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

"Collective Alchemy", LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2015
"Let's Get Started", LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan

"Toast", LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

"Everyone in The Pool", LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

“Lookie Here”, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2014
“Annual Fall Celebration”, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan

"Slightly Obsessive II”, LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

“Hop Skip & a Jump”, LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

2012
   
“25 Year Gala”, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“LG-Group”, LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

“Color Context”, LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

“Fresh Squeezed and Locally Grown”, LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

“Act II”, LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

2011    
“Come Out and Play”, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Summer Fun”, LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

“Opening Celebration”, LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan

2000
"To Good Health: Artist Care", Center Art Gallery, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1999
"Object of My Affection", LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1999
"The Timmel Collection Summer Show", The Timmel Gallery, Saugatuk, Michigan

1996
"Towards Wholeness", Tromblay Gallery, Kalamazoo, Michigan

1996
"Out to Lunch", Center Art Gallery, Calvin College, Michigan

Competitions

1996
Calvin Alumni Artist Competition, Center Art Center, Calvin College

1994
Michigan Artist Competition, Art Center of Battle Creek, Battle Creek, Michigan

1994
Botanical Images �94, Lansing Art Gallery Lansing, Michigan

1994
Calvin Alumni Artist Competition Center Art Gallery, Calvin College, Grand Rapids Michigan

1992
Michigan Artist Competition Art Center of Battle Creek, Battle Creek, Michigan

Press and Awards

2012
25 year Book LaFontsee Galleries

2012
People's Choice Award, Center Art Gallery, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

2011
On-the-Town magazine, cover and article

2009
Grand Rapids Press, Sizzling Summer Celebration

1991
Pat Verduin scholarship for art

Selected Collections

Johnson Controls, Holland, Michigan

Martin Reformed Church, Mural, Martin, Michigan

Steve and Valerie Spoelhof, Holland, Michigan and St. Charles, Illinois

DeVos Children's Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Spectrum Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Anna's House Restaurant, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Related Experience

2011
Adjunct painting Instructor, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI