The work in Erika Ehrman’s series UN-SEEN consists of 22 works on paper and explores the idea that the “truth” of family history is shifting and ultimately unknowable.
Following the death of her parents, Ehrman came across a box of family photographs spanning a period from the 1940s to the 1960s. The prints revealed scenes and portraits from the intriguing world her parents inhabited, an often glamorous, well-travelled life she knew only in parts from half-remembered anecdotes. In the same box she discovered a note from Man Ray to her mother and a message from the painter (and Picasso’s muse) Francois Gilot, addressed to her father. The shock of these discoveries led her to the question: “How do I not know these stories?”.
Prior to making this series, Ehrman’s work has been concerned with abstract shape and exuberant color blocking. Her proclivity for bold forms and intense color has found its way into these new paintings but now serve as punctuation against grainy black and white images. By enlarging her father’s original prints and selecting areas and figures to paint over, she sees the work as a collaboration with her parents, an exploration of her relationship with them and her estrangement from their past life. She is representing the ways they were unseen to her, as indeed she feels she was often unseen by them.
Erika Ehrman grew up in New York City and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1988. She has worked for over 35 years in the advertising industry as a producer, creating campaigns and commercials for major companies including Swiss Air, American Express, Revlon and Bloomingdales. She went on to become a digital content producer working with the industries leading agencies. In 2002 she launched a jewelry company “Oscar and Nancy” selling to national and international companies including Barneys, Henri Bendels, Fenwicks of London and Mitsukoshi in Japan. Ehrman began painting and sculpting full time in in 2018 and most recently has shown her work at Guild Hall in East Hampton and the Bellport General on Long Island. She has a concurrent career as a model for Wilhelmina Models in New York and works as a certified life coach. She has 2 sons and lives and works between New York City and Bellport, Long Island.