The Queue: Lisa Mauer Elliott
Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.
Welcome to the Kinship series of The Queue
A biweekly roundup for and by the craft community, The Queue introduces you to the artists, curators, organizers, and more featured in the current issue of American Craft. We invite these inspiring individuals to share personally about their lives and work as well as what's inspiring them right now.
Finding Kinship with Nature Through Making
Lisa Mauer Elliott is the art director of American Craft, along with Adam Mauer Elliott. She’s also a maker of art in a multitude of mediums—from drawing, painting, and photography to printmaking, jewelry, and sculpture—with an emphasis on responding to nature in all its forms. Lisa wrote the Encounter piece for our Fall 2021 issue; in "Returning," she tells the story of encountering the work of the late wood carver Randy Takaki of Hawaii—and how the experience, which gave her a new understanding of kinship, continues to impact her art and life.
How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or fewer?
I would say I’m a graphic designer by trade—happily creating work that I absolutely LOVE, including co-art-directing and designing American Craft—and an artist and maker by soul, exploring questions formed through a persistent sense of wonder, curiosity, and awe regarding the natural world.
The past year has presented many challenges, from a global pandemic to renewed urgency around issues of racial equity and police brutality. As we slowly move into a post-pandemic world, how are you finding beauty and staying grounded?
We recently moved to the driftless region of rural southeast Minnesota, to 40 acres of land with rolling prairies and forest—a 24-years-long dream now real. To be here, in this place, is to be in constant contact with beauty—an immense privilege and gift. Being grounded is a whole other challenge, one that for me is most effectively nourished through slow time, making work with my hands, and allowing spaciousness for what is here to simply be here.
The theme of the current issue of American Craft is "kinship." Can you reflect on that theme as it relates to your work and practice?
I think what I aim for most in my work is a kind of quiet reverence and reciprocity. I create as a way to begin to know something—to honor the “beingness” or “aliveness” of another—often gravitating toward forms I encounter in nature. I might begin with a question—like “what is it like to be a forest?”—and then make work in various mediums (drawing, print-making on paper, photography, jewelry design, textile printing, and so on) as a way to explore the seeing and the ideas that emerge from there.
What’s one of your go-to/favorite tools in your toolkit that the world should know about?
They're basic and no-frills, but for me, two absolutely essential must-haves are Sakura Pigma Micron fine-line black-ink pens and these tiny 4 x 6 in. plain, matte-black, 110-page, hardcover sketchbooks made by Daler-Rowney that have soft-white, yummy, toothy, unlined paper. Walmart has the sketchbooks for like $3.64 each.
What’s your favorite social media post you’ve seen recently, and why?
Hands down it’s an Instagram post from October 26, 2021, by Emma Freeman (@emmafreemandesigns) where she gave words to something that, until the moment of reading had remained elusive and wordless, but was profoundly felt: what it means to make energy visible through the practice of one’s work.
If you could purchase any craft artist's work for your home or studio, whose would it be and why?
We had the honor of working on a story for the next issue of American Craft featuring the work of artist Yuri Kobayashi. Her Lin bentwood chair is breathtaking! A gorgeous, gentle, soft-curving sculptural work with openings in the backrest creating shadowplays I could watch for days, weeks, years.
Inspired by the people featured in The Queue?
Dive deeper into their work in the pages of American Craft magazine. Become a member of the American Craft Council to get a subscription and help fund a range of nonprofit programs that elevate the craft community.