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InSITE 2020 Artist Profile: Ellie Balk

Photo of the artist Ellie BalkEllie Balk is a St. Louis-based public artist whose work centers on mathematics and data visualization. Using color and abstraction, Balk creates visual systems to convey information.

Balk will bring her inimitable style to Downtown St. Louis as one of the five projects chosen for InSITE 2020 through a large-scale vinyl installation that will be focused in and around a prominent skyway over Seventh Street between Locust and Washington.

Balk is conducting an online survey to source data on the quantity of time spent on our cell phones as well as how we utilize our phones in order to showcase a very private and intimate data set to the public. By creating an engaging experience – both for people inside the space, on the street, and in surrounding offices and homes – she hopes to ignite conversation and investigation into our cellular habits.

Click the following link to participate in the survey, elliebalk.com/whatsyournumber.

“A skyway is particularly interesting because it reminds me of a pneumatic tube,” Balk said. “The pneumatic tube system was invented in 1799 as a way to connect people through sending and receiving information and communications. Our phones are now our main conduit for connecting, and the skyway is the perfect place to visualize data on how we use our phones to connect to one other.”

Balk believes the interactive nature of large-scale work allows people to experience a connection to space and to each other. In the studio, she has been using data to document space, time and sound by creating work that allows for interactive visual play through painting, printmaking, stained glass and sculpture.

Balk’s murals can be experienced throughout the world including Brooklyn, New York; St. Louis; Buenos Aries, Argentina; Mae Rim, Thailand; and Kassak Sud in Senegal, West Africa. Balk holds an MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and a BFA from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

You can see her work in St. Louis at the baggage claim in terminal two at Lambert Airport, on South Broadway in Carondelet, at 4240 and 4220 Duncan in the Cortex Innovation District and St. Alexius Medical Building on Jefferson. Her most recent work in the St. Louis area includes a ground mural in the Chroma Plaza in The Grove, which depicts patterns of population growth over time for St. Louis and 11 other river cities experiencing a boom in tech culture.

In her free time, Balk can be found traveling the world in search of new color palettes.

InSITE 2020 is a temporary public art exhibition designed to enhance Downtown St. Louis. It was developed by The Downtown STL Public Art Initiative, a partnership between the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RAC), Explore St. Louis and Downtown STL, Inc.

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