Emily Church Bio



Emily Church is an interdisciplinary artist working within the mediums of painting, drawing, bookmaking and poetry. Church grew up in Louisville, Kentucky where the experience of nature coupled with attending an urban arts high school influenced her artistic process, as she draws on both the energy of city life and the intensity and wonders of the natural world. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, earning a BFA in sculpture with a special focus in print and paper making. Since 2008, Church has maintained a studio in the Greenwood Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

She received a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from the New York Studio School in 2012. Church has attended artist residencies at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, and Yaddo artist colony in Saratoga Springs, NY. Church’s paintings and handmade artist books can be found in the collections of The John McEnroe Library at the New York Studio School, The Hyatt Regency of Louisville, KY, the University of Louisville Rare Book Collection, Ekstrom Library, Washington University in St. Louis Rare Book Library, and the Sam Fox School of Art collection, Churchill Downs Corporate Offices, among numerous other private and corporate collections. She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, NY.



2012 MFA, painting, New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture

2004 BFA, sculpture, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri 

2002 Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy



2023 Collyer’s Mansion, Brooklyn, NY, Emily Church, paintings and drawings

Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY (blue) sky / (green) earth

2022 Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY Reflections

2021 Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY, Rainbows and Moons Over Prospect Park, Brooklyn

2018 Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY, Watching the Sky, Waiting for Signs

2012 Generation Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Fragments

Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY, Explorations in Mark Making

2010 Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY, Sketches from Slovenia

Tucker Booker Donhoff + Partners, Louisville, KY, work (2004-2009)

2008 Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY, Cycles, Systems, and Structures

2006 Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY, Icons and Sacred Spaces

2005 The Barn, Louisville, KY, Sacred Spaces, One-hundred-seven days in Paris



2022 The Empty Circle, Brooklyn, NY Intimate Immensity (curated by Emily Church)

2020 The Empty Circle, Brooklyn, NY, Nocturnes work by Emily Church & Kathryn Lynch (curated by Matt Nasser)

2019 Jaya Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, Summer Rainbows work of Emily Church

Court Tree Collective, Brooklyn, NY, The Great Paper Show  (curated by Stephen Lipuma) 2019 Blue Mountain Gallery, New York, NY, juried winter exhibition (juror Elisa Jensen)

2018 The Empty Circle, Brooklyn, NY Everything & Nothing (curated by Raul Zamudio)

Fiercely Curious at Galerie Protégé, New York, NY Reinvention (curated by Erin Przekop)

2017 Life N Style, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, International Print Festival Invitational Show

313 Butler St Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Gowanus Open Studios Group Show (Top 10 must see chosen by the REMIX)

Borough Bar, Brooklyn, NY, Stay Nasty: a show by Lunatic Womxn a post election collective

2016 BLAM Brooklyn, NY Focus (curated by Erin Przekop & Tom Critchlow)

Des Lee Gallery, St. Louis, MO, group show honoring Ronald Leax (curated by Arny Nadler)

Ground Floor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, New Leaf (curated by Elsie Kagan)

2015 Fiercely Curious at Sky Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Technology as Hands (curated by Erin Przekop & Tom Critchlow)

Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY, Painting and Drawing, Pt.1

Fiercely Curious, Brooklyn, NY, Art and Design 1 Year Anniversary Show (curated by Erin Przekop & Tom Critchlow)

2014 Imogen Holloway Gallery, Saugerties, NY, Top Drawer, works on paper (curated by Diane Dwyer)

Galerie Hertz, Louisville, KY, Of and About Clay and Painting 

2013 Selena Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Interior Space (curated by Patrick Burns)

2012 White Box Gallery, New York, NY, Young New York silent auction fundraiser

New York Studio School, New York, NY, MFA thesis exhibition (curated by Karen Wilkin)

2011 New York Studio School, New York, NY, Motel 

Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY, Nurture Art Benefit Show (juried)

New York Studio School, New York, NY, Hotel 

2010 Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ, Urban Arts Festival

2008 Madarts Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Scapes

Madarts Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Summer Group Show

Madarts Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Park Slope Studio Tour

Madarts Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Spring Group Show

Texas Firehouse, Long Island City, NY, Benefit Show

2006 Swanson Reed Contemporary, Louisville, KY, New Works by Emerging Artists (curated by Chuck Swanson)



Published chapbook Entangled by Finishing Line Press (forthcoming 2024)

Published poem The Limits of Language in Cordella Press journal online (2023)

Yaddo, one-month artist residency (2012)

Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant Nominee (2012)

MFA Scholarship, New York Studio School for Drawing, Painting, & Sculpture (2010-2012)

Vermont Studio Center, Residency in Painting, partial fellowship (2007)

Governor’s School for the Arts in Kentucky, Toyota Alumni Fund, Artist Enrichment Grant (2007)

Cité Internationale des Arts, Artist Residency in Paris, France (2004)

Millikan Travel Grant, runner-up, Washington University in St. Louis (2004)

Governor’s School for the Arts in Kentucky, Toyota Alumni Fund, Artist Enrichment Grant (2004)

University City Sculpture Series, Committee of Arts & Letters, Public Sculpture Commission, St. Louis, MO (2003)

Leo Weekly – Spotlight interview and article 8/22/2012

Leo Weekly – Staff Picks 7/18/2012

Courier Journal – Entertainment Arts Section, “Best Bets” 7/5/2012

Leo Weekly – Events 8/18/2010



2024 Publication of Entangled a chapbook of poetry and paintings mostly created during the pandemic years, forthcoming by Finishing Line Press in Georgetown, Kentucky.

2023-2024 Curatorial Project As a Fragment Points to the Whole at The Empty Circle in Brooklyn, New York. Curated a show with 5 female artists working in the mediums of painting, textiles, and photography based on essays by Lydia Davis.

2022-2023 Curatorial Project Intimate Immensity at The Empty Circle in Brooklyn, New York. Curated a 5 person exhibition based on Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, and produced all materials for the exhibition including a catalog with essays, artist portraits and bios. All writing and photography produced by Church.

2020 - 2022 Writing Group Project via zoom from New York and Kentucky. Met with writers Amy Seibert and Sarah Yost over a two year period to discuss and critique writing projects. 2020 Produced a limited edition poetry book titled Painting the Weather concurrent with the exhibition Nocturnes 

2012 Produced a limited edition handmade artist book of poems titled The Leap and Fall concurrent with MFA thesis show

2004-2005 Traveled to Europe with artists Amy Seibert and Shelby Lattis to research a book titled Elemental, which was later produced as a limited edition artist book in Louisville, Kentucky.



Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky 

The John McEnroe Library at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture, New York City, NY

Sewell, O’Brien & Neal PLLC, Louisville, Kentucky

Swope Design, Louisville, Kentucky

The Hyatt Regency, Louisville, Kentucky

University of Louisville Art Department Collection University of Louisville Rare Book Collection, Ekstrom Library

Washington University in St. Louis Special Collections, Rare Book Library

Washington University in St. Louis Sam Fox School of Art

Washington University in St. Louis, Sculpture Department Book Collection



2015-2018 Brooklyn, NY Taught book-making to preschoolers and early elementary aged children

2011-2012 New York Studio School, ran a critical thinking course about local art exhibitions for grad students

2004-2005 Louisville, KY Taught high school students Printmaking with Studio2000 project

2000-2004 St. Louis, MO Taught summer camps and Reggio Emilia inspired after school classes to children K-3 grade

1996-2000 Louisville, KY Taught ages 4-10 various drawing, painting and 3-D projects; developed own curriculum




I make paintings from scratch, putting together the frames, stretching the linen, making gesso and some of the paint. This process allows time for contemplation before image making and is a reaction to the Internet age of immediate access. Controlling the surfaces of my paintings from the substrate to the paint itself allows me to get close to the physical reality of a painting, and to create work that glows, that becomes a simulation of the sensation of existing in the physical world. Specifically, the use of florescent pigments within the first layers of a painting allows this sense of light to permeate a scene. Recurring images are rainbows, moon-bows, and other phenomena of light as perceived in the sky from the ground. The rainbow has become a significant recurring symbol, and feels like either a beacon of hope or a harbinger of things to come, as the political landscape continues to shift and the natural world as we know it vanishes. The moon rising and setting, too, has been a steady companion in recent years, as I travel about my daily life. I find myself taking note of the phase of the moon, the light reflecting from its surface creating moon-bows through cirrus clouds. To paint the clouds, or a rainbow, is to paint air and light itself. The invisible made visible. Like conjuring into being a physicality that was more strongly felt on the skin than seen with the eyes.



Light and color play an important role in my perception of environment. The themes that most resonate throughout my work are the experience of light, both visual and somatic, a sense of an almost romanic longing for nature in an idealized way, and the ways in which the passage of time may be marked by baring witness to the cycles and seasons of particular personal places, the weather, and my own body as a woman, mother, artist. My paintings and drawings in recent years have been about specific witnessed events of nature as I go about my daily life traversing the urban space of New York and other places I encounter through travel. My work based on the gardens, plants, trees, and weeds that I pass on my daily excursions through my urban environment call attention to the ways in which plants are cultivated by humans, or survive despite them, and is a way for me to feel a part of and in awe of the natural world, and to recognize my responsibility for the care taking of it. My challenge as an artist is to create work of beauty, strangeness, and wonder, and to bring an awareness of the world that is all around us in surprising and unexpected ways.



This ongoing body of ink paintings on paper explores intimately the sensation of being present with trees. I paint in detail specific trees encountered during daily life walking the streets of Brooklyn, on travels, and on visits to my childhood city of Louisville, Kentucky. The trees are poetic markers of place and time. They stand for specific memories from my life. Drawing trees became an important pastime during the pandemic when I spent significant time exploring the urban parks around my home with my children. While I stood apart from them, watching them play among, commune with, and climb the trees in imagination and escape, I also felt at peace for brief moments of time, “forest bathing,” allowing the stillness and seeming timelessness of the life of trees to soothe the troubled present.

While the trees signify moments of beauty, they contain elements of loss and anxiety. Within the titles of each work is the allusion to the impermanence of the subject from which these paintings are inspired. The paintings are memorials. The summer of 2022 was a time of great drought and stress on the natural landscape of New York City. By 2023, many mature trees were unable to withstand the stresses that man-made climate change have brought upon them. Drought, insect invasion, fungus and bacterial infections, have led to the loss of thousands of trees in NYC alone. On my walks through the urban parks and city blocks, on drives out to the ocean, I have witnessed these trees wither and die. These paintings seek to immortalize the trees before they are lost to time. Viewed together, the works become a forest.





Art, whatever it takes – Emily Church interview

Emily Church is a New York-based multi-disciplinary artist and curator working in the mediums of painting, drawing, book making, and poetry.  Her work takes recognizable experiences—particularly of nature within the urban environment—and transforms them into poetic events. She holds a BFA in sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in painting from the New York Studio School and has attended artist residencies at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, and Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY. Her work can be found in numerous public and private collections.


Art, whatever it takes – RomeArtProgram has made interviews with people involved in art, living in Italy, the USA and the UK, to know their feelings during the emergency.
–> Emily Church interview:

RomeArtProgram: What is your definition of “Art” today?
-> Emily: Art is an experience created with intention that can, when done well, reflect our world back to us in surprising and unexpected ways.

RAP: Art is dynamic and regenerates itself…how does it change, and how did it change us?
-> Emily: The context in which art is viewed historically, politically, culturally, change how an artwork is perceived, yet powerful art has a way of transcending time, of reaching out to us across centuries to speak human truths.

RAP: When (and how) did you understand that art was becoming very important in your life?
-> Emily: My father was an architect, my mother a designer. Our home was filled with materials for drawing, painting, building. Art books lined our shelves. It was always an option, to make things, write, express myself, and I did from an early age.

RAP: What role does art play today? What are the “great figures” who have recently changed it?  Do you feel close to any of these figures?
-> Emily: Art today can be commercial, but it is best when experienced not as a commodity, but as something visceral and necessary to human existence. Art tells the human story through many mediums and people yearn to participate in this narrative, whether that’s through film, theater, dance, novels, poetry, or visual art. Social media has been a way for people to see the possibilities for art, and hopefully take action to seek art out in real time and space. Art is happening in every form all the time, and so the “great figures” are those who continue to make and to attempt to connect with one another.

RAP: Are there still traditional figures such as collectors, muses, mecenate and patrons, in today’s art and society interaction model?
-> Emily: There are people who want to collect art to own it exclusively, but there are also those who want to experience art as an event. I’ve found that when I’ve had an exhibition or curated, friends, neighbors, artists, and passers by want to engage with what I’m doing. Art is more than ever in our mainstream consciousness. There are still those people who want to create the space for the dialog of art, and the general public can become the “patron of the arts” by participating.

RAP: How have the new technologies and media culture changed art today, improving or worsening it?  What do you feel are your biggest challenges?
-> Emily: Social media is a tool in which artists can share thoughts and work. The danger is in thinking one can engage with art entirely virtually. SM has brought me closer to what my peers are doing, especially during the height of the pandemic, but at some point we need to be together “irl” —reminding myself of that is a daily practice.

RAP: Art as a mirror of man, in this moment of emergency seems to be shattered…what do these fragments reflect now? Shadow or light of the moment?
-> Emily: Art during the pandemic was still a mirror of us, together apart. During these past three years, I have seen art continue to be a path towards healing.  Whether art reflects our darkest selves or our lightest, it is one and the same.  Reflection is what matters.

RAP: Understanding, interpreting, and then possibly judging the work of art; which is the right path when we are in front of a piece of art?
-> Emily: Go with your gut. What do you respond to in the work?  Color, light, image, form, narrative?  What is the artist trying to say, and how can you relate to this? Look and then look again.

RAP: Which is the real role of Academies and Art schools today?  What can artists learn from these institutions today?
-> Emily: While art school is not a necessary path for all artists, it can offer a space of deep personal exploration, peer dialog, critical thinking, studio space, and a safety net to experiment freely. My time spent earning a BFA, MFA, and studying abroad in Italy were invaluable experiences that taught me about myself and more importantly formed life-long friendships with fellow artists.

RAP: Art too has undergone a complex process of globalization; can having an authentic and genuine style be an advantage or a drag for an artist?
-> Emily: The idea of “style” is a marketing tool for galleries. Artists must be true to the inner voice, which leads to real discovery over a lifetime.

RAP: How do Art Galleries and Museums position themselves today, and, in your opinion, how should they?
-> Emily: Museums reveal our history, and in the best cases, are free.  Galleries are free, however, they can have an unapproachability that leaves many people feeling excluded because of the way art is marketed as a commodity instead of a tool for connection.  I am dreaming of a way to bring art to the people in a more inclusive way.

RAP: ”Figuration” vs “Abstraction”: which of the two is better descriptive of the period we live in? Which one will have a better future?
-> Emily: Abstraction and figuration have a place in our world.  All ways of making can speak truth to a variety of human experience.

RAP: Today we often speak of “emerging artists”; what advice based on your experience do you feel you can give to young artists?
-> Emily: My advice to younger artists has always been to keep making work that is true to yourself, to experiment, be brave and bold, take risks, and cultivate friendships in the arts.

RAP: Art as a lens for reading the present, can it modify the space and time we pass through? Will art save us?
-> Emily: Art develops along side us as our cultures shift and change. As we progress as humans (or regress?) our art does as well. It cannot save us ultimately, but in small moments it can alter single existences. It can lead to radical change within individual lives.  During the height of the pandemic, art gave me a path through the darkness and a conduit for connection.