Emma Balder

Emma Balder

Emma Balder (b. 1990)

Emma Balder received a BFA in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2012. She has exhibited in venues such as Torpedo Factory Art Center (Alexandria, Virginia), Lawndale Art Center (Houston), Trestle Gallery (New York), Meow Wolf (Denver), The Lincoln Center (Fort Collins), 500X (Dallas), Heidi Vaughan Fine Art (Houston), Gutstein Gallery (Savannah), among others. In 2015, she was awarded a one-year Staff Artist residency fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center and was named a finalist of the Peripheral Vision Foundation Prize in 2016. Balder is a 2022 recipient of the Houston Arts Alliance Support for Artists and Creative Individuals grant, funded by the City of Houston. The artist’s work has been written about in the Houston Chronicle, Art Maze Mag, Dialogist, Denver Life Magazine, 303 Magazine, Emboss Magazine, Artifactoid and more. Balder has facilitated fiber painting workshops throughout Colorado, including at the MCA Denver. She has collaborated with companies such as Meow Wolf, Sweetgreen and PepsiCo’s LIFEWTR. Beyond the Surface marks her tenth solo exhibition, and her third solo show in 2022. 


Artist Statement

Emma Balder’s work softens the boundaries between painting and textiles. She appoints acrylic paintings to behave like fabric, and textile waste like paint. The works reconstitute fragmented material, unveiling beauty in refuse and mutual understanding between mediums. Intrigued by correlations between the natural world and humanity, Balder uses her dual processes to express the value of nature’s teachings: change, interconnection, and regeneration. 


The artist refers to her sculptural paintings as “Pinglets”: birthed from a mother painting, they become individual beings comprised of connected parts. Each painting begins with nods to abstract expressionism, taking gestural notes of nature’s contours, textures, and shapes using acrylic on rectangular canvas.  At the point of satisfaction, Balder cuts up the work, welcoming forced change. After rearranging the parts like puzzle pieces, fragments are sewn together. Incorporating found soft materials, fabric remnants, and embroidery brings textured stories. Often stuffing them with recycled foam and fiberfill, the work’s essence takes form. Each creation becomes a reformed expression of the earth, a quilted landscape which brings forth new life. 


In her fiber paintings, Balder reassigns fibers as a medium that functions like paint. Using a paintbrush and matte medium, she pushes and pulls the fibers along the substrate; this approach of painting with fibers creates an intimate collaboration with the material. Mark-making with graphite follows as a response to the fibers’ contours, while adding acrylic paint accentuates their pre-existing color. In pareidolic fashion, using the artist’s hand to emphasize form, images resembling creatures or living beings appear. The fibers dance along the surface, exhibiting an energy and aesthetic that is as unique as the materials’ histories. 


Transforming paintings into fabric and fibers into paint cultivates reciprocal empathy between materials. These opposing, yet complementary processes create a realm of coexistence. Fiber paintings are microcosms within the Pinglet worlds, where fibrous creatures reside. The Pinglets depend on their inhabitants’ material makeup to mend what was once broken. Balder’s work serves as ideal symbiosis: mutual care and reverence between humanity and the earth which sustains us. 




2012     BFA, Painting, Minor Art History, Savannah College of Art and Design

2011     Study Abroad, SCAD Lacoste Campus, Lacoste, Provence Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France



2022     (Upcoming) Beyond the Surface, Funded by the Houston Arts Alliance and the 

City of Houston, Foltz Fine Art, Houston, TX

Eclectic Motion, Esther and John Clay Gallery, Laramie County College, Cheyenne, WY

Good Evening, Morning Star, BOX13 ArtSpace, Houston, TX

2020     Pareidolia, 500x Gallery, Dallas, TX

2019     Connecting Threads, Heidi Vaughan Fine Art, Houston, TX 2017

             Harmonious Disposition, Ceremony Healing Center, Denver, CO

2015     Sew That's the Way It Goes, Gallery II, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT



2022     (Upcoming) Mind:Full, Artists for Artists, The Mend Center, Houston, TX

 2021     Lending Library, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX

The Big Show, Curated by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX

2020     Testing, Pruebas, BOX13 ArtSpace, Houston, TX

2019     The Dark Palace, Meow Wolf, National Western Complex, Denver, CO

Milky Way over Mani-Utenam, Stella Ripley Contemporary, Quebec, Canada

Gémeaux de minuit, Stella Ripley Contemporary, Quebec, Canada

The Empty Box, Box13 Artspace, Houston, TX

Connective Tissues, Stella Ripley Contemporary, Quebec, Canada

Texas Art 2019, Assistance League of Houston, Curated by Jennie Goldstein, Houston, TX

2018     (Three-person invitational) We Make Our Own Wings, ATC Gallery, Denver, CO

SHIM Alum Invitational, ArtHelix Gallery, Aqua Art Fair at Miami Beach, Miami, FL

Far Out Factory, Two Parts Collective, Denver Rock Drill, Denver, CO

2017     Annual Contemporary Art Survey, Curated by Zoe Larkins of the MCA Denver, The Lincoln Center, Fort Collins,CO

The Peace Tent, Represented by Meow Wolf, Colorado Crush, Denver, CO

Recycle 2017, Curated by Harriet Taub, BWAC, Brooklyn, NY

Material as Medium, Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA

100Plus, Birdseed Collective, Alto Gallery, Denver, CO

Oversaturated, Curated by Ben Tollefson, DeFine Art Showcase, Savannah, GA

2016     SHIM Invitational 3, ArtHelix Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

Small Works, Curated by Michael Runnels, Gutstein Gallery, Savannah, GA 

2015   Small Works, Trestle Gallery,Brooklyn Art Space, Brooklyn, NY

2014     Slow Noise, Curated by Hiroshi Tachibana, Provisional Pop-up Gallery, Johnson, VT

Magical Events, Seligmann Center for the Arts, Sugar Loaf, NY

2012     My Opia Is Your Opia, Ashmore Gallery, Savannah, GA

2011     Vernissage, La Galerie Pfriem, Lacoste, Provence Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France

Taste Art, Meddin Studios, Savannah, GA



2021     Reflections on the Work of Emma Balder, Essay by Heather Bhandari, December 2021 Virtual Studio Visit: EmmaBalder, Alexandra Goldman, Artifactoid, May 2021, https://theartifactoid.com/2021/04/30/virtual-studio-visit-emma-balder/

2019     Art Review: Emma Balder unravels the fabric of life with her first Houston show, Molly Glentzer, Houston Chronicle,Nov. 8, 2019, www.houstonchronicle.com

Blikvangers, Dutch International Digital Publication, Textiel Plus

Art Reveal Magazine, Issue No. 47, June 2019

2018     Artist Spotlight and Interview, Denver Life Magazine, October Issue

Artists to Watch in 2018, 303 Magazine, Denver, CO

2017     Emboss Magazine, Nature Issue, April 2017

Art Maze Mag Launch Issue, Curated by Kristin Hjallegjerde, Print and Digital Publication 1of1 Mag, DigitalIssue, February 2017, Denver, CO

2016     Art Maze Mag, Digital Issue, http://artmazemag.com/emma-balder/

A Transformational Journey: The Paintings of Emma Balder, Interviewed by Scott Gleeson, Peripheral Vision Arts, no. 3, www.peripheralvisionarts.org/journal/balder-interview Dialogist: Quarterly Poetry & Art, Vol.III, IssueIV

Fresh Paint Magazine, Issue 14, August 2016, curated by Tracey Causey-Jeffery Digital feature, CreateMagazine Blog, November 2016

Pollux Art Zine, Volume 2 Denver, CO

2015     Interview with Stowe Guide and Magazine, Winter/Spring Issue, 2014-2015



2022     Houston Arts Alliance, Support for Artist and Creative Individuals, SACI Grant Recipient, Houston, TX

2020     Grant Recipient, City of Houston Program for Arts & Culture, HAA, Houston, TX

Artist Care Grant, Dallas, TX

2018     Elsewhere Studios, Artist Residency, Paonia, CO

2016     Foundation Prize Recipient, Peripheral Vision Arts, Dallas, TX

2014-5  Vermont Studio Center, Staff Artist, One-Year Residency Fellowship, Johnson, VT

2014     Vermont Studio Center, Residency and Artist Grant, Johnson, VT



2020     Sweetgreen, Denver Flagship Store, Denver, CO

2020     PepsiCo's LIFEWTR Partnership, The Art of Recycling, Series 9 Bottle

2019     Meow Wolf, The Dark Palace, Denver, CO, November 

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