Ellen's work transcends, even defies categorization.
Obsessive, ritualistic, literary, witty, and often whimsical, it is by
turns morbid and exuberant, a celebration of nature and of artifice. It
is a fusion of techniques traditionally found in fashion and crafts with
the materials and techniques of "fine art." With the grid as
her underpinning compositional device, she reconciles her love of extravagance,
fantasy, and spectacle with a strict design sense rooted very much in
To enter into one of Ellen's compositions is to enter a veritable microcosm
of unexpected delights and mind-boggling details. Her works are often
fantastical — shimmering with light and air, glittering with fields
of miniscule beads, festooned with baubles, various treasures, and gewgaws
— all laid out on those elaborate grids of meticulously placed color.
Indeed, the range of media employed in her paintings is dizzying: acrylic
paint, colored pencil, powdered pigment, gold or silver leaf, enamel (nail
polish), perforations (done individually by hand), quilled paper, ribbon
and trim, buttons, beads, pearls, cameos, rhinestones, sequins, embroidery,
paper ephemera (found and/or constructed), vintage cigarette cards, postage
stamps, metal findings, silver gimp, tinsel, balsa, fimo clay, plastic
flowers, phototransfers, wire, beetle wings, mirrors, microscope slides,
and threads of mylar, nylon, silk, rayon, and metal.
With all this, Ellen gives us a vanitas for the 21st century; the seductive
treatment of the surface fills our eyes with that which is ever so lush
and pleasurable, making us marvel at her technical virtuosity and cleverness.
At the same time, beneath the scintillating surface of that post-paradisiacal
cross-stitch, that eerily celestial circuit board, an image such as a
flower in bloom or a tree bleak in its leafless state serves to remind
us that all is transitory. Therein lies the tension: vita brevis, ars
An air of the elegiac haunts many of her works - often enhanced by the
vintage found objects, the selected quotes of poetry, and even the antiquated
quality of the vellum itself. Certainly the persistent theme of the seasons
themselves — of the cycles of birth and death in nature whose ceaseless
rhythms overwhelm the brief life span of an individual — speak to
us of loss, but also of the hope of hope and the power of remembrance.