The Unity of Time and Place
I create work that bridges the world of photography, prints and collage.
Lately, I have been exploring the realm of memory; how it impacts the present and future. Some say, all time exists at once; the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future are regarded as a whole. As I am vastly interested in reality, this cohesion is mesmerizing to me.
After spending the last several years immersed in the past (tending to aging parents) I am ready to embrace the future. But as I set out, the past is with me, transformed. All the losses are still there but there is a brightness forming that allows me to see the entirety, the unity of time and place.
My mother always encouraged my creativity. She was an orphan (her mother died right after giving birth), and her mother was an orphan, so I like to say I come from a long line of orphans.
After my husband and I moved back to the Midwest from our home in California to help care for our aging parents, I found myself missing California terribly at first. I quickly adjusted and came to love the four seasons with all of their diversity. I have always been most inspired by the natural environment, from the beaches of California to the fields in the Midwest and most recently the mountains of New Mexico; the environment speaks to me and draws me in. So, at that time, I was getting reacquainted with the streams, rivers, and lakes of my childhood. Over the course of the five or six years we were there, I photographed specific areas of my parents' 5 acres in rural Missouri in all seasons and in all weather conditions.
In 2015, I was the winner of the eighth Julia Margaret Cameron Award, one of my greatest accomplishments, honoring women in photography. Only 15 women worldwide were chosen that year, and I was especially thrilled as the honor was bestowed on me for the work I did right after my parents' passing, "Unity of Time and Place." That came out of one of my most challenging times. Right after my parents' passing, I felt paralyzed as far as continuing my work … but I just dug into my photo archives from the years photographing my parents' 5 acres and started formulating a series that culminated in "Unity of Time and Place." In my creative work, I first doubted that I could create anything new, and then after getting to work, things started to jell. My work shifted a bit to include memory and remembrance, and this helped me to still feel connected with my parents but, at the same time, let go.
My advice? I was always told to "get to work." There is a notion of "creative inspiration," but I find that if one just sits around waiting, it will not come (or rarely comes). Inspiration arrives from getting one's hands dirty, metaphorically speaking. Just start. I recommend having faith in yourself. Look inward to discover what you are truly interested in, and then apply that to your creative endeavors. No one does great work right from the start; it takes patience and perseverance.
Ellen was born and raised in St. Louis, but moved to California in 1990 to attend FIDM in downtown Los Angeles. She obtained an advanced degree in Fashion in1992 and after working at Mattel Toy Co. as a senior project designer, she became disillusioned with the corporate world. Having been trained in computer design while at Mattel, she continued her training using mostly Photoshop software. She now creates work that bridges the world of photography, prints and collage. Lately, exploring the realm of memory; how it impacts the present and future.
Words: Ellen Jantzen