AN ARTISTIC POINT OF VIEW
MUSINGS ON LIFE AND ART
From Artists of the
Lahaina Arts Society
ELLEN LEVINSKY – JEWELRY & MIXED MEDIA FEATHER ART
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When Ellen was young she didn’t think she could be an artist because she wasn’t good at painting. Eventually realizing that she shouldn’t limit herself that way, and because she loved creating art, she began to delve into other mediums. “I had to clean my Mom’s parakeet cage and so I got to look at a lot of feathers. I realized how beautiful they were, and each was like an abstract painting if you look at it closely. That started my interest in feathers.” Because her mother did a lot of arts and crafts with her while growing up, Ellen decided that that is the direction she would go with her art, incorporating her love of feathers into artistic creations. It was a natural process that started with feather jewelry creations, and eventually led to her current feather art, beautifully combining them with handmade textured paper depicting petroglyphs and other representations of Hawaiian life. This process was especially helped after meeting and studying with the top feather lei artist from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. It was after studying with her that Ellen progressed from entirely making feather jewelry to also creating feather art.
Living in Maui inspires her work. From the incorporation of petroglyph images that she discovered during Maui hikes, to making butterflies after a Kapalua guest asked her to make one, to incorporating pineapples that she initially made for a Maui Land and Pine show, to making hand made frames at a neighbor’s suggestion, her feather creations abound in originality and artistry. Ellen loves what she does, explaining, “Doing art is kind of compulsive for me!” In short, she just can’t help herself from creating beauty.
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Teaching art to Maui’s children, she encourages everyone to find their artistic side, to engage in the process of creating art. “Everyone can do art.” is Ellen’s message, “especially if you realize that it is the act of creating art that is important, much more so than the end product.” She explains that it is important not to limit yourself by having a preconceived idea of what art is or is not. Just start creating in a way that interests you. Once you get started Ellen explains that that there are lots of books and tutorials on the Internet that will give you ideas and teach some techniques. YouTube is great for that. She adds, “The library is also a good place to start, especially in the kids section because they have easy “how-to” books in there.”
Doing art is a total expression of your inner self. Ellen explains, “Art is something that puts you in another zone when you are doing it, or even looking at it. It takes you to another place. It’s stimulating, thought provoking, and at the very least, interesting.
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She is quite a believer in art therapy, that art has an enormous and potentially transformative healing value. As Ellen describes, “Art creates an emotional response, even if you don’t understand it, it still affects the way you feel.” That can be so greatly beneficial on many levels.
Ellen is quite clear that art can greatly contribute to people’s lives. It’s great for relaxing if you are in a difficult situation. If you immerse yourself in any kind of art, it takes you into another mental/emotional space and helps release the pressure of stress. (This is what happens in art therapy.)
Ellen sees this working with kids. “Many times they are in difficult situations. When they’re doing art, those problems are pushed aside. They are just focused in the here and now.” She adds, “It would be helpful if more adults did art when they were stressed.”
If Ellen could change the world, she would like to see the average person doing more artwork because it not only would help with stress, (and the world is quite stressed out,) but would also help them feel better about themselves. People can learn about other cultures through art, and through that learn to connect with every kind of person, and maybe become less adversarial. In a word, art helps us connect.
Somewhat jokingly, Ellen muses that it would perhaps be good if we had some kind of art project in the senate and congress that they had to do together. Maybe we need a politician art workshop where one republican and one democrat in a pair create an art project together. One can only imagine!
All in all, let yourself be inspired. It is easy to feel inspired, as Ellen is, with Maui’s natural beauty and Aloha spirit that pervades the land and people. May your stay in Maui, no matter how long or short, inspire and encourage you to create art in a way that is personal and fulfilling to you.
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You can find Ellen and her Feather Mixed Media and Jewelry artwork most weekends outside the Lahaina Cannery Mall.