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Ellen Schiffman

A Message for Those Who Will Listen, 2020, Mixed Media, Q Tips, Courtesy of the Artist.

Visit Ellen Schiffman’s website

Instagram: @ellenschiffmanfiber

Hear from the Artist



Hi, I am Ellen Schiffman, I am from Connecticut. I call myself a mixed-media artist. For many years the work I did was primarily focused on fiber art techniques, so there was a lot of weaving, felting, quilting, stitching in the pieces. In more recent years I’ve really branched out a lot and consider myself more of a mixed-media artist. I see myself as an explorer of material, and the piece in this show is a good example of that. 

It’s from a series of sculptural work that are all made with q-tips. There is material I used to make the forms but the material you’re seeing is q-tips which I finish off with a varnish so that the cotton won’t absorb the dirt in the air. I really like transforming materials, and using very common materials and transforming them into very unexpected pieces. I’ve used a lot of different materials in my work: plants, rusted items, found items, linen. I tend to work in series. 

The series you’re seeing in the show I made in preparation and after a bucket trip to Patagonia. My husband and I went on a trip we’d always dreamed about. The pieces are inspired by the massive white glaciers and ice and empty spaces that we saw there. When I set out to make a piece I don’t say, “this is what the piece is going to be,” and, “this is what it’s going to be about,” its a very instinctual process-oriented experience for me. This one was but I realized afterwards that it was very inspired by what is happening to the glaciers around the world and to our Earth. 

It’s called A Message for Those Who Will Listen. You’ll see in the piece that there is a very intact section of the piece and then it is just crumbling and falling apart. There is that message there although I didn’t set out to make that message, but that’s what happened. The other pieces in the series, you can see on my website, are also monumental, all-white pieces with periods of destruction in them. I am fascinated by destruction and resilience and the perfection in imperfection. That has certainly got a voice in this piece.