Elizabeth McTernan

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Visiting Assistant Professor; Painting & Drawing
E311 VAB

Academic Areas

Elizabeth McTernan is an American-born artist and writer based in Berlin and Iowa City. Her work is a research-oriented and mixed-media exploration of measurement and media ecologies. Sometimes this involves a cartography of landscapes: mountains, deserts, the coastlines of islands or puddles. Other times it involves a cartography of objects: lab artifacts, copper, rocks. Through an interdisciplinary practice of mapping, she problematizes and plays with methods of empiricism. She processes what she finds with actions, installations, new media, drawing, printmaking, sound, essays, and artist books.

McTernan earned her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, MD, USA, and her MFA from Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. Working regularly with scholars across fields, she is a contributor to the research group Experimenting, Experiencing, Reflecting (EER), an art-science collaboration led by artist Olafur Eliasson and scientist Andreas Roepstorff of Aarhus University in Denmark. She is the head curator and researcher of Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Research Map’, a 35-meter-long wall of images and texts exhibited at Tate Modern, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Kunsthaus Zurich, and soon the National Museum of Qatar.

McTernan’s work has been exhibited at Documenta 15, and her most recent paper “Andscapes: As the Bug Crawls” has been published in ScienceOpen as part of the conference proceedings for Politics of the Machines Berlin. She has been granted numerous awards and residencies across Europe and the US, including a Kreativfonds Project Grant, nomination to the Long List of the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2021, the Danish International Visiting Artist (DIVA) Grant, and residencies at Ars Bioarctica in arctic Finland and Leitrim Sculpture Centre in Ireland.


Selected Works

A Work of Friction Wood, sandpaper, mirror, hardware, pencil, limit angle, potential energy from static friction 2022
Meter Stick to Measure a Moment in Time (28 January 2020, 50°58’33 N 11°19’44° E) Etched brass 2021
Sounding Landshapes Ink on watercolor paper Series 2020–2022
Seeing Things Performative research conducted in the Arctic during the summer solstice, resulting in an essay and a solo exhibit
Finding Sea Level (55°17'59.51"N, 20°58'20.00"E, 16 May 2015, 12:09-13:09 EEST) Lithograph The Baltic Sea, Nida Art Colony, Lith
The Coastline Paradox: Measuring a Nameless Island Field studies, drawings, and published artist book A nameless island, Odense
The Coastline Paradox: Measuring a Nameless Island Field studies, drawings, and published artist book A nameless island, Odense
Fleeting Sea: Measuring the Coastline of a Puddle  C-print mounted on alu-dibond 2013–2014