The Disappointed Tourist is an ongoing project for which Ellen Harvey is making paintings of lost sites suggested by members of the public in response to the question: Is there any place that you would like to visit or revisit that no longer exists? The exhibition has been traveling and growing since 2019 with 300 sites painted so far. Each painting includes the name of the site and the date on which it ceased to exist. Over the summer of 2023 the Rowan University Art Gallery & Museum, in partnership with Creative Glassboro, Glassboro Public Library, Glassboro Historical Society, and Heritage Glass Museum, solicited submissions from the local community. Nine suggested sites have been added to this new iteration of the installation including the Whitney Brothers Glass Factory, Salem Oak, Bay Point, Zee Orchards, Eighty Acres, Palace of Depression, Vineland Speedway, Veterans Stadium, and grandparents backyard. These new works debut in the exhibition at Rowan University Art Gallery & Museum.
The project was inspired by the urge to repair what has been lost due to the forces of war, time, ideology, gentrification, and natural disasters. We live in a world that often feels as though it is vanishing before our eyes. The Disappointed Tourist attempts to honor the trauma underlying the nostalgia that results from our collective and individual losses, while celebrating the human attachment to places both real and aspirational. It tries to create a level playing field in which personal losses and larger cultural losses can meet and be recognized and create a new conversation about our love for our physical environment, harnessing nostalgia to create empathy rather than division.
To learn more about the project, including reading the stories behind the submissions or to suggest a new site to be painted, visit: https://www.disappointedtourist.org/
Ellen Harvey is a British-born conceptual artist, living and working in Brooklyn, whose work ranges from guerrilla street interventions to immersive institutional installations to large-scale public artworks. Her work is painting-based but utilizes a wide variety of media and participatory strategies to explore a number of interconnected themes such as the social and ecological implications of the picturesque, the revolutionary potential of ornament, the detoxification of nostalgia and the role of art and the artist in our society.
Her current project The Disappointed Tourist, has formed the centerpiece of a traveling retrospective that has been exhibited at the Butler Gallery (Ireland), Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art (Poland), Museum der Moderne Salzburg (Austria) and Turner Contemporary (UK). The exhibition at Turner Contemporary was selected by Frieze as one of the five best institutional shows in the UK in 2021.
She has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and internationally, including in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Solo museum exhibitions (other than her recent retrospective) have included the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), the Groeninge Museum (Belgium), the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington DC), the Bass Museum (Miami Beach), the Center for Contemporary Art (Warsaw, Poland), the Pennsylvania Academy (Philadelphia) and the Whitney Museum at Altria (New York).
She has completed large-scale public artworks for the Miami Beach Convention Center, Metro-Norths Yankee Stadium station, New Yorks Queens Plaza subway station, Chicagos Francisco station, Bostons South Station, the San Francisco Airport, the Philadelphia International Airport, the Andover Internal Revenue Service Offices and the Flemish National Architect.
She is the author of the recently reissued New York Beautification Project, and her work has been the subject of four monographs to date.
She is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program, Yale Law School and Harvard College and attended the Berlin Hochschule der Kunste in Germany (no degree). She is the recipient of numerous awards including most recently a Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship, the Wivina Demeester Prize for Commissioned Public Art and a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.
Her work is represented in numerous museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach), SMAK (Ghent, Belgium), Berkeley Museum of Art, Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences (West Virginia), Art Omi, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Princeton Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Gwangju Art Museum (Korea), Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea (Spain), among others.
Harvey lives and works in Brooklyn and is represented by Locks Gallery (Philadelphia) and Meessen De Clercq (Brussels, Belgium).