Elizabeth Neily

My art is rooted 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’m deeply influenced by 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. I originally trained as a fine artist, as a miniaturists, as a portraitist and as a wildlife artists, 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. As a photographer and filmmaker, I learned composition and storytelling. I can spend weeks, planning and creating an intricate piece of art or clothing. Sometimes I dye natural fabrics, yarns and fibers using plants and commercial dyes. Sometimes I spin fibers into yarns or felt them, then weave them and embellish them with threads, buttons, beads and found objects. Most of all, I explore possibilities.