Penny McElroy is an artist and teacher. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and working as a counselor for 5 years, Penny entered the graduate graphics program at the University of Wisconsin / Madison. In 1984 she earned her M.F.A. from Wisconsin. That fall, Penny began her teaching career at Bethany College in Lindsborg Kansas. Since 1986, she has taught Graphic Design, Printmaking and Book Arts at the University of Redlands in Southern California.
Penny’s artwork spans a broad range of materials and media, from drawing and painting to 3-D ceramic pieces. Recently she has been experimenting with layered mixed media works on paper that incorporate light. Penny’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad, including recently at the Cal Poly Pomona exhibit Ink & Clay, where her work, el matrimonio de Archimedes, won the University President’s Purchase award. Other recent art venues also include ARC gallery in San Francisco, Skylight Gallery in New York, Gallery 825 in Los Angeles, Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi, India, Cali, , Medellin, and Manizales, Columbia, as well as Quilmes, Argentina.
Penny also maintains an active graphic design practice - 5&dime design. She recently created the cover art and designed NarcoKnowledge: Thinking Through the Drug Wars by Patricia Wasielewski and Alexandra Bollella as well as the Gorsky Press reissue of Strange Toys by Patricia Geary. Penny also designed the cover art for Camera Obscura, a book of poetry by Rebecca Bednarz, published by Noemi Press.
One of the joys of looking at art is when something in the work sparks a fire of recognition just beneath my heart. This flash of personal understanding is powerful – it is like a shared memory. It makes me laugh for joy, sometimes it makes me cry, and always it makes me think. It is usually small and unexpected elements that evoke this reaction – a slight crack, patched and re-cracked at the edge of a sculpted wrist, a look of longing in the eyes of someone in a photographed crowd, a color subtly peeking from underneath its complement… These experiences are intimate and deep. And they provide me with abiding goals for my own work. I want to tell the stories that exist under the surface – to make the unseen, seen. I want to re-experience the intimacy of shared secrets. I want to parse the truth that exists in façade. And when this magic works, it leads me (and I hope for viewers to come along with me) on an exploration of fleeting dreams, memory, and intimate logic, that opens a door to the place where sense and non-sense meet.