Then economic factors pushed her out of the 1709 and into her South City home. As can happen to an artist at any point in his or her career, Eisler's feeling of intrigue began to wane.
"I was so discouraged after I moved [from the 1709]" she recalls, "and not long after, 9/11 happened. After 9/11: Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why do this? I got very discouraged. I talked to Pat Schuchard [artist and director of Washington University's painting program], and I said, 'Pat, I've lost it. I don't have that sense of interest, intrigue, thrill. Whatever it is.' It was gone.
"I thought, 'I'm really forcing this work, forcing and forcing and forcing it.' Then I got beyond that."
Eisler pauses for a brief moment of contemplation: "It was tough work. But this feels good." She beams.
The earliest work in Eisler's new series maintains the integrity of the shoe shape, which may sound mundane, if not absurd, but in the two-dimensional works that are to be exhibited at the Shearburn Gallery, the results are dazzling. The shoe patterns are configured into forms in which the repetition of shape and color have a compelling power: lyrical, exuberant, overflowing.
"Her work is about taking a shape," says Shearburn, who has been visiting Eisler's studio every three or four months since this series began, "using the shape and manipulating it over and over. It becomes a variation on a theme."
From flat, framed pieces, Eisler began to manipulate the shoe patterns sculpturally and to hang them on the wall. She began to add latex paint, dried color pigments, Elmer's Glue, water, ink washes, "a little gravel occasionally," she says as she stands beside these strange, organic forms, which are colorful in the way bizarre fungi are as they blaze in the Missouri woodlands.
A series of smaller works stand in Plexiglas frames so that both sides of the pieces can be seen. The two sides are wildly distinctive, studies in light and dark, in texture and color.
Eisler believes she still has a long way to go investigating these materials: "My thinking is, I want to make more three-dimensional forms. That's the direction I'm moving." The latest works are the most sculptural, off the wall -- literally -- and moving further from the shoe pattern itself.
Eisler's glad she's kept at it and that she keeps pushing: "You have to, because what comes out of that is the work that feels the way it should feel. You have to do that. You have to be in the studio. You have to make those things, no matter how bad they seem or how bad they are. You have to do that.
"For me, so much comes out of the materials I'm working with. The majority of the work flows. There's not this intellectual decision-making process. Most of the work is that way. Once I get into something, it just rolls."