Elisabeth Smolarz was born in Poland and emigrated to Germany as a teenager. Raised between two cultures affected by communist and democratic systems, and then having moved yet again to the liberal democracy of the US, she creates photography, video, and social interactions investigating how consciousness, perception, identity, and value are formed by one’s cultural mileu.
Smolarz has exhibited her work nationally and internationally for two decades. Her most recent solo exhibition, The Encyclopedia of Things was presented at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey from February 2020 through January 2021, resulting from a multi-year project created with the Town of Guttenberg, NJ, supported by an NEA grant, and featured on PBS on 03/14/20. Additionally, her work has been presented in venues including: The Bronx Museum of Art, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, EYEBEAM Center for Art + Technology, Lesley Heller Gallery, NARS Foundation, The Sculpture Center, Smack Mellon, The Queens Museum of Art, and Wave Hill, all New York City; Galeria Aleksander Bruno, Warsaw, Poland; Oberwelt e.V Stuttgart, Germany; Baden Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany; Photography Triennial Esslingen, Germany; Independent Museum of Contemporary Art, Cyprus; Reykjavik Photography Museum, Iceland; Espai d'art contemporani de Castelló, Spain; the Moscow Biennale, and others.
In addition to major support received from the National Endowment for the Arts for Smolarz’s socially engaged photographic portrait project, The Encyclopedia of Things (2017-2019); select honors include participation in the Art and Law Residency, New York City (2019); MASS MoCA Artist Residency, North Adams, MA (2018); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency Program, NYC (2016); Guttenberg Arts Residency, Guttenberg, NJ (2015); Homebase Residency, Jerusalem, Israel (2014); AIM Residency, Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY (2013); SOMA Artist Residency, Mexico City (2010); and additional residencies and fellowships hosted by institutions in Beijing, Berlin, Moscow, New Dehli, Reyjavik, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo.
Smolarz received a BA in Photography and Video and an MFA in Multimedia from the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart, Germany. She currently teaches Media/Photography at Parsons, The New School, New York, and lives and works in Queens.