Elizabeth Neily, Artist/Storyteller
My art is rooted in our connections to the world around us. I explore ways to incorporate nature, storytelling and color into my work, but in the end it must come together as a joyful piece, because “if it ain’t fun, why do it?”
I can spend weeks, planning and creating an intricate piece of art or clothing. Currently I’m using dyes derived from nature like turmeric, cochineal, and even Spanish moss to color fabrics, yarns and fibers. I spin the fibers into yarns, weave and felt them, then embellish them with threads, buttons, beads and found objects. Most of all, I love to explore the myriad of possibilities offered by the world around me.
I grew up in rural Nova Scotia and my move to Florida in 1980 forced me to examine who I was and who I wanted to be. As a result, I found I was attracted to Native American cultures throughout the Americas. I gather ideas from the beautiful ceramic, wood and shell designs created by the once powerful Tocobaga and Calusa Indians of Florida’s Gulf Coast. I draw from historical and archaeological resources to try to understand how those people lived successfully for millennia on this landscape only to disappear in a blink of an eye after the invasion from Europe. I’m inspired by the magical realism of artists like Paul Pletka, by the insightful archaeological reconstructions of Hermann Trappman, and by the teachings of so many of my fellow surface design artists. Originally I trained as a fine artist, as a miniaturist, as a portraitist and as a wildlife artist, all of which gave me an eye for detail, color theory and most of all, patience. As an historical costumer, I learned to glean details in how period clothing is constructed which I include in my art to wear designs. As a photographer, publisher and filmmaker, I learned composition and storytelling which I hope is reflected by my work.