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Erika Fortner

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Santa Barbara, California, USA

Birth year

Lives in
Berlin, Germany

Works in
Berlin, Germany


Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, 2008, BFA
Buena High School, 1998

figurative, abstract, mixed-media



My work investigates allegorical themes integrated with representation of imagery through nature, symbolism, and automatic drawing. Many historical, cultural, and philosophical ideas are embedded in this layering of materials and imagery; ranging from light and comedic to dark and unsettling. It is a recognizable yet abstract approach to Egyptian alchemy of awareness where the work is meant to be contemplated on a personal level. One is meant to consider and transform the dross of the imagery that is un-relatable to the individual. It is not that these works are about nothing, but perhaps they are about everything. One body of my work is purely abstract where the other grouping holds a tendency to representational surrealism. I believe that the intention and physical act of painting co-exist. Each mark which is painted on the canvas sustains a harmony in its own 2 dimensional world. Each entity contains its own gravity in space and thematic rules of color and mark making. Like a true alchemist, I repeat and observe my mark making; responding to the new formulation. The physical materials of my work include charcoal, acrylic, inks, and airbrush on soft linens, canvas, or paper. I layer washes and clear surfaces to delicately echo the referenced imagery.



Erika Fortner grew up in an Evangelical household in Ventura CA and worked the family business as a high end cabinet maker and finisher. She then Erika attended the highly respected Pratt Institute of Fine Arts to obtain her BFA in Painting. She studied under the likes of Jos. A Smith, Mickalene Thomas, and Peggy Cyphers. Her first solo exhibition was in September 2008 with the Terra Gallery in Columbus, Ohio. Erika has worked for Julie Mehretu as a Finish Consultant and Artist Assistant in New York City since 2004 whilst putting herself though school. During that time until now, she has developed and applied all of Mehretu's custom surfaces. Erika has worked on large scale projects such as Mehretu's Deutsche Guggenheim show, and the 80 foot mural in downtown Manhattan at the Goldman Sachs headquarters, including many others. She works with some of the top gallerists, collectors, and conservators part of her time and continues her own practice with the rest of her time.



BORN-1980 Ventura, California




2008- Pratt Art Institute, Brooklyn, NY, BFA Painting

2006 - International University of Art, Venice, Italy, Painting and Art History, 2006 - International School of Graficam, Venice, Italy, Printmaking

1999- Technology Development Center, Ventura, CA, Digital Animation Certification 1996- Cal Arts Innerspark (CSSSA), Valencia, CA, Painting, Ceramics


RESIDENCIES JULY 2009- LindART, Co-operate 3, Lendava Castle, Slovenia


PROFFESIONAL EXPERIENCE 2004-PRESENT- Studio Assistant and surface fabrication/ finish consultant for Julie Mehretu

2010-2011 - Studio Assistant for Kirsi Mikola


EXHIBITIONS (one or two person show marked with an asterisk)

OCT 2013- Creatives Rising, See Exhibition Space, New York, NY

JUL 2013- The Story of the Creative, See Exhibition Space, New York, NY

FEB-APR 2013- Haworth Showroom, New York, NY, USA

MAY 2012- Parallax Art Fair, London, UK

DEC 2011- Cluster Bomb, Bowery Poetry Club, New York, NY, USA

JAN-DEC-2011- Show Your Hope, a gypsy traveling exhibition all over Germany and Holland AUG 2010- Free Net World International Film Festival, Trenches of the Nish Fortress, Serbia

JUN-OCT 2010 - Nord Art, Art in the Carlshütte Büdelsdorf Germany

MAY-JUNE 2010 - Jamais Vu, CK Café, Berlin, Germany

MAY-JUN 2010- The Scavenger Project, Brooklyn Art Library, Brooklyn, NY, Form Space Atelier, Seattle, Washington, USA

MAR-APR 2010- Midnite Snacks, 1336 Space, Chicago, Illinois, USA

*FEB-MAR 2010- Allegories of Dissonance, Artport, Wedding Art Colony, Berlin, Germany

FEB-MAY 2010- The Sketchbook Project, 303 Grand in Brooklyn, NY,

FEB-MAY 2010- The 6th Berlin International Directors Lounge, The Contemporary Media and Film Festival, Artport, Wedding Art Colony, Berlin, Germany

SEP-OCT 2009- Slow New International, The Arts at Marks Garage, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

JUL-SEP 2009- (public exhibition) LindART Residency Exhibition, Main street and Cultural Center Square, Lendava, Slovenia

JUN 2009- Personally Political- Contemporary Sensation, Tacheles, Berlin, Germany

APR 2009- Bring Down Your Ruler, Atelierhof Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany

APR 2009- Private Exhibition, Mehretu-Rankin Studio, Berlin, Germany

MAY 2009- Miscellany Springs, Turn Berlin, Berlin, Germany

JAN 2009- The Body, the 11th Annual “Postcards from the Edge” Benefit for Visual AIDS, Metro Pictures, New York, NY USA

MAY 2008- Quadraphonic, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, USA

*SEP 2008- “Erika Fortner: New Paintings” Terra Gallery, Columbus, OH, USA

SEP 2006- Pratt in Venice Group Show, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, USA

SEP 2006- Medium NYC- Emergency Arts in Chelsea, New York, NY, USA

NOV 2005- 31st Annual Holiday Show, Printmaking, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

OCT 2005- Fall Group Show, Fine Arts Office, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, USA

APR 2005- “Merit Award Competition”, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, USA

APR 2005- “Neighborhood Gallery Project”, Peaches and Cream, Brooklyn, NY, USA

MAR 2004- “Equality Now - Domestic Affairs”, Locus Media Gallery, New York, NY, USA

*MAR 2002- “A Celebration of Women”, Café on A, Oxnard, CA, USA OCT

1998- “Into the Night”, Ventura Theatre, Ventura, CA, USA

JAN 1998 - "Human Form", Governor's Office, Sacramento, CA, USA

AUG 1997- “Student Thought”, Cal Arts, Valencia, CA, USA

*AUG 1997- “Dreams”, The Daily Grind, Ventura, CA, USA



MAR 2010- 2nd ArtSlant Showcase Winner

JUN 2009- ArtSlant Juried Winner

MAY 2008- Pratt Circle- Distinction, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, USA

MAY 2008- Liberal Arts Honors, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, USA

OCT 2007- nAscent Art, New York, “Curators Award”, New York, NY, USA

2004-2008- President’s List, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, USA



Mar 2013- Arte Fuse “All the Art That’s Fit to Be Hung and to Be Loved” by Oscar A. Laluyan

MAR 2013- Kaltblut Magazine, Berlin, Germany, digital magazine

FEB 2013- Abstracted Space, nAscent Table Book

MAY 2012- “Art Seen, (Fortner-Studio)”, SE0122, nAscent

JUN 2010- Nord Art 2010 Catalogue

MAY 2010- The Scavenger Project Book, Brooklyn, New York, USA

APR 2010-Julie Mehretu: Painting Conservator Luca Bonetti | Art21 "Exclusive", Web Video Release

MAR 2010- Julie Mehretu: Studio Assistants | Art21 "Exclusive", Web Video Release

NOV 2009- PBS: Art 21, Season 5, Systems/ Julie Mehretu interview

OCT 2009- Slow Art, Direct Art Magazine, Volume 16

JUN 2009- Personally Political- Contemporary Sensation Catalogue, Tacheles, Berlin, Germany

AUG 2007 – nAscent Art Catalogue JUN 2007 – nAscent Art Catalogue

SEP 2006- Medium NYC Exhibition Catalogue MAR 2004- Four pieces used in a horror film “Evil Eyes” created by The Asylum Production Company in Los Angeles, CA APR 2004- “The Back Alley Arts Magazine”, digital magazine

zine”- 8 paintings published

Recent Exhibits

Erika Fortner participated in these exhibits:

Jun, 2010 NordArt 2010
Kunstwerk Carlshütte
May, 2010 Scavenger Project 2
The Brooklyn Art Library
May, 2010 Jamais Vu
Cafe CK
Mar, 2010 Midnite Snacks: Chicago
1366 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL
Feb, 2010 Allegories of Dissonance
Feb, 2010 The Sketchbook Project
303 Grand
Click here to see all exhibits for Erika Fortner
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