The Elephant Man

Support this Artwork by Elizabeth Ernst

The Elephant Man, Elizabeth Ernst - Embedded
The Elephant Man
1999 - Hand-Painted Photograph, 16” x 12”
This is an art piece that still requires support to become a part of Access Livings permanent collect. To help support this artist please contact Riva Lehrer at her information below.

“The Elephant Man” and “Bird Lady” are both part of “The G. E. Circus,” which combines Ernst’s skill at photographic storytelling with her love of sculpture. Some aspects are based on the considerable history of communities formed by disabled people within the shelter of the circus. Each circus figure is made out of oven-hardened clay, after which a “portrait” photograph is made of the character. The cast includes a juggler, acrobats, clowns, and strange human-like animals. Photographs are printed on sensitized linen paper, mounted to board, and finally hand-painted. Each “portrait” includes a brief “biography” giving us insight into their inner lives. In Ernst’s circus, animals control their handlers, freaks are the standard, and cages are obsolete.

Ernst’s relationship with disability has continued to evolve through her own experience of lupus, as well as from being in a long-term relationship with a person with a disability. Ernst’s empathy, humor, and rigorous lack of sentimentality arise from understanding disability from the inside.
Riva Lehrer