Location: Bayard Henry Long Room
Field Report: Boston Athenæum Fellow Eli Portman
For this residency my goal was to explore the environments within the Athenæum's floors and walls. Every floor has its own feel and history. I researched old photos and paintings of the space that have been rendered over the years. The Athenæum has an incredible and valuable collection of historical and important works of all types. Not only does the building house these literary treasures, but I believe the building itself is a treasure in its high walkways, tall stacks, floors of drums, large windows, and beautiful chandeliers. Using previous references of Athenæum history and its younger days as inspiration, I wanted to make something new and create my own entries in the timeline. Starting last July, I've come in at different times of days, different weather, and different lighting. I've explored different rooms, different spots, and different stacks. I've observed different floors for many hours at a time, watching how people come and go, read, work, and do research. Some of you have observed me painting in return. The pieces I'll be presenting will represent months of exploration, hours of on site painting and sketching, and will consist of thoughtful works that will make you look at this beautiful library in different ways.
Eli Portman is a 2019-2020 Boston Athenæum Community Fellow who was born and raised in the Greater Boston area. He graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton with a bachelor's degree in Studio Art in the spring of 2014. He has since moved back to Boston and displays his works in galleries and offices. He also does mural work, teaches art classes and workshops, paints private commissions, and more. Portman focuses on detailed, somewhat Ashcan School-inspired pen and ink illustrations and expressive watercolor paintings. He primarily creates work of urban environments within the City of Boston and lives with his wife in Brighton, MA.