Creative Quarantine: Artist Ellen Greene

Artist Ellen Greene | Photo credit: Kerri Sherman

1. How are you holding up?

Pretty good. I have to say that only until recently have I started to miss the outside world. I am a very introverted person and I really dislike small talk, socializing in large groups, and the busy-ness of everyday life. Everything got really simple and it gave me a lot of space to look at my life and slow it down. But I am lucky to still have my job and my health. My family is healthy too. I am very blessed. Despite the general awfulness of the disease and its impact on the world- I have had some really good studio hours with nothing to do but paint. But it is wearing on me and I am starting to miss people and museums and restaurants and stores etc. 

Sleeping woman | Oil and stickers on canvas | 30” x 33” | © Ellen Greene 2020

2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?

It has not effected my work, other than more time to do it. I do believe more people are aware of the effect art has on them and are appreciating it more. Also, people are much more interactive online with my work than they were before. Fewer distractions I suppose!

Gimmie Shelter | 20” x 24” | Oil paint and vintage wallpaper on board | © Ellen Greene 2020

3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

I’ve really come to an understanding of how my art impacts people and I’d like to keep being involved in more public-facing initiatives that expand that understanding.  I used to think that my work was not cut out for community display- it was something I made just for me and appropriate only in a gallery; its themes often dark and shadow-y. But I have really embraced images that are more palatable and hopeful- still authentically me but more joyful. For example, I have approx 30 angel prints on display at  Soapies dry cleaners in downtown Evanston through a local arts initiative organized by Evanston Made called Evanston Connects. The whole city of Evanston is an art gallery so that when people go out for their walks they see something beautiful or interesting in all the windows. Also, I made several stuffed angel mobiles that hang off my porch that is part of  Art-In-Place which is a collaboration between Cortney Lederer Projects and Terrain. This exhibit of art in artist’s homes (visible in some way to the public) spans the whole of Chicagoland and beyond. Images of the installations will be sold with profits going towards the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund. So I will be keeping this new broader perspective that I have gained in participating in community work with my art. 

4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?  

I love seeing how resilient and resourceful my art peers are. I can’t say there is just one person in general- who is doing well. I see so many amazing people doing beautiful work that they probably were doing before but now it all feels even more poetic to see people Dancing online, drawing online. Transforming their homes and business into art galleries. Because its just what we do. Artists are some of the most resourceful people I know and they are definitely making beauty in this really hard weird time. 

Ellen Greene was born in 1975 and raised in the small college town of Lawrence, Kansas. The local art scene as well as her creative parents supported her artistic pursuits from an early age. She graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute with a degree in painting in 1998. In 2000 she moved to Chicago. She is best known for her painted vintage gloves with tattoo-inspired designs that explore subjects of love, death, sex, and motherhood. Her gloves have been featured in Bust magazine, Italian Glamor, Skin Deep, Raw Visions as well as many online publications. In 2017 she collaborated with Italian fashion label Diesel to create a spring 2018 collection with her unique tattoo inspired designs. In 2018 she launched her brand “Ellen Greene” that seeks to bring her unique color designs to an array of products. Currently, she lives and works in Evanston Illinois. The diversity of her art practice means that on any given day she may be doing a Portrait, designing cards, making wearable art, curating vintage clothing, or creating original works of art. She is most happy creating pieces that will bring her clients joy and enhance beauty in their lives. 

You can keep track of her work on her website, Instagram, and Facebook.