Elizabeth Gourlay: A Tribute

Elizabeth Gourlay, "T orange 2," 2018, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches, Anonymous gift, 2023, 2023.8.3
 Elizabeth Gourlay, "T orange 2," 2018, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches, Anonymous gift, 2023, 2023.8.3,


Elizabeth Gourlay: A Tribute

Spanning nearly fifteen years of creative expression, Elizabeth Gourlay: A Tribute commemorates the visionary work and life of Chester, Connecticut-based artist Elizabeth Gourlay (1961-2024). At once delicate and bold, Gourlay’s compositions reveal the artist’s lifelong exploration into the emotive and abstract qualities of line, color, and form in their myriad permutations. Her highly personal works are meditations on architecture, music, textiles, and Gourlay’s experiences in the world and across cultures. Here, the artist’s own words offer insight into the creative process and journey that shaped her life and the remarkable works she made.


I try not [to] be overly analytical, because I don’t know what it is about, but I can tell you that I am always striving to create a painting that has layers of experience + color while at the same time maintains a freshness and openness. When a piece works, it has complexity and simplicity all at once.

I look at lots of art throughout history – and up to present times – and am very interested in art from cultures other than our own – Japan, China, Africa, India.*

I look at patterns and repetition on both textiles and painting. I look at these things but mostly the piece is coming from somewhere within and is about discovery, and that is why I don’t know what it will end up looking like – or if I do have a preconceived idea – it will not end up looking as I intended.

*It’s usually a color idea that inspires me when looking at art from other cultures. My best work is usually when I am inspired in this way. Then the work becomes a meditation on that idea.


Immediately like an old friend, familiar in some way because I’ve produced a meditation – or the result of a meditation on some aspect that’s universally known.

Elizabeth Gourlay: A Tribute follows two prior collaborations with the NBMAA: Elizabeth Gourlay: Eclectic Threads (2023-2023) and Elizabeth Gourlay: Color, Chords, and Threads at the Delamar West Hartford (2023-2024).

Artists’ Statement, by MG: on behalf of Elizabeth Gourlay, born 3/16/61

Liz went where angels of imagination hang

Dwelt ten thousand passages of time, at the theater of sublime

She got there, slogging over facts for years

Treading deep the knowledge of classics, ancients and peers

Learning from all sorts of works, of authors, painters, and scholars

She traced their lines, walked, with them where they had gone

     gleaned the extremes of what was known

     studied their combinations, colors and marks

     the motions and emotions at the edges of their arts

Feeling pulls, she laid her paint, in this way she practiced skills

Then she went beyond our ken, to the future threshold come

Put tender hand beyond the angel door

Felt for the visual raw, stimulations that occur

And with gentle aesthetic, holding true

Garnered what only spirit tendrils held

What had never been seen or felt before

She lived stimulus to sensate, and to give in love to us

She lent across the angel’s spectral space

Crossed threshold with ink and paint

Gave us color and shape

From seminal subtleties, made things

Things that only she had seen

The glimpsed, made material for all

She was our sublimation scholar

Making what, was not before.

(Died at ten to three, on 4/27/2024.)


Please Note: The exhibition in Landers House will be closed to the public on June 8 and 15. Landers House is occasionally closed off for rentals and special events, but we try our best to accommodate visitors who would like to see the artwork. If you are traveling from a distance to see the exhibition, you may want to call the Front Desk to confirm that there isn't an event in Landers House that day.