Love animals? Like Nature? A fan of the phantasmagorical? Love it when Science meets Art? Then you will absolutely fall for Ellen Jewett‘s sculptures.
When I saw Ellen’s work on my Pinterest stream and checked out her website, I knew I just had to share with you all. You’re going to want to own her exquisite sculptures, and you won’t be able to stop at just one, either. For those armchair curators like myself, who have empty pockets, be patient, I read that there are books showcasing Ellen’s work in the pipeline.
Here’s Ellen’s web page, and here’s her Artist Statement that I’ve simply copied and pasted in its entirety, for your ease of reference:
Plants and animals have always been the surface on which humans have etched the foundations of culture, sustenance, and identity. For myself, natural forms are a continual source of fascination and deep aesthetic pleasure. At first glance my work explores the more modern prosaic concept of nature: a source of serene nostalgia balanced with the more visceral experience of ‘wildness’ as remarkably alien and indifferent. Upon closer inspection of each ‘creature’ the viewer may discover a frieze on which themes as familiar as domestication and as abrasive as domination fall into sharp relief. These qualities are not only present in the final work but are fleshed out in the process of building. Each sculpture is constructed using an additive technique, layered from inside to out by an accumulation of innumerable tiny components. Many of these components are microcosmic representations of plants, animals and objects. Some are beautiful, some are grotesque and, some are fantastical. The singularity of each sculpture is the sum total of its small narrative structures.
Over time I find my sculptures are evolving to be of greater emotional presence by using less physical substance: I subtract more and more to increase the negative space. The element of weight, which has always seemed so fundamentally tied to the medium of sculpture, is stripped away and the laws of gravity are no longer in full effect. In reading the stories contained in each piece we are forced to acknowledge their emotional gravity cloaked as it is in the light, the feminine, the fragile, and the unknowable.
Counter intuitively, while there is an appearance of complexity in design, there is a simplicity in execution. Each detail, down to the finest filigree, is free-modeled by hand. Within each piece precision is balanced by chaos. The overarching aesthetic knocks on the door of realism, yet the hand of the artist is never intentionally erased; brush strokes and fingerprints abound. Even the narratives themselves harbor a degree of anarchy as they are rarely formally structured. Rather, I seek to achieve flow states while working to create a fluid progression of unconscious imagery. That imagery, as manifest in tiny ephemeral shapes and beings, forms relationships and dialogues organically. In the spirit of surrealism, this psychological approach to artistic expression creates a rich network of personal archetypes and motifs that appear to occupy their own otherworldly space. Within this ethereal menagerie, anthrozoology meets psychoanalysis as themes of natural beauty, curiosity, colonialism, domestication, death, growth, visibility and wildness are explored.
While I seek to free my mind to the imaginative process, I am always simultaneously striving to refine my working environment. I abstain from all materials; clay, paints, glazes, finishes and mediums, that have known toxic properties. This, unavoidably, excludes most of what is commonly commercially available, and has sent me on a journey of unique material combination and invention. This exploration is a large part of the unconventional look and feel of my work. Where possible I source the natural, the local, the low impact and, always, the authentic.
Ellen was born in Markham Ontario and raised among newts and snails. She took to shaping three dimensional forms naturally at a young age. In 2007 Ellen completed her post secondary honours degree in Anthropology and Fine Art at McMaster University. While finishing her undergraduate degrees Ellen worked in medical illustration, exotic animal care and was teaching a childrens class on stop motion animation. By the time she presented her thesis, Ellen’s academic and artistic interests in the biological where intrinsically interwoven.
Considered by those who know her as a natural entrepreneur, Ellen set out on her own path as a career artist while still in high school, spending long summer weekends travelling to exhibitions. Ever the curious soul, while working as an artist Ellen has continued to study art and science respectively, most recently, through Haliburton School of the Arts and University of Guelph. She has also accumulated certifications in other areas of personal intrigue, including applied animal behavior modification and crisis counseling. According to Ellen, it all informs her art; enriching the content of the unconscious narrative flow.
Today Ellen’s work is achieving a vibrant internet presence making notable appearances on popular websites including Colossal, Reddit, Bored Panda, Ecology Global Network, American Crafters and many others. Her sculptures are being featured in public and private collections worldwide. Ellen is enthusiastically expanding her studio practice, forever experimenting and meeting the demand of her time and art. In her spare seconds Ellen enjoys hiking with her friends and dogs, kayaking, climbing, hunting wild plants and mushrooms, organic gardening, ‘upcycling’ salvaged items, drinking coffee and feeding tiny birds. As her practice gains more international audience she looks forward to the opportunity to travel as much as her work does.
Below are just some of my favourite Ellen Jewett pieces, curated from Google Images. Ellen is really prolific, and it’s very hard to just select a few of her pieces, so think of these as “tasters”, and check out her work yourself! 😊