Community by Ellen Nelson

Community by Ellen Nelson

Our first design in our I'm Kzoo line of shirts, done by Ellen Nelson. She is a local artist that is currently located in Kalamazoo. 

More about Ellen:


What art medium or mediums do you use? 
I paint with oil on canvas. I can use watercolor and acrylic, but primarily use oil.
What is your tie to Kalamazoo and how much time have you spent in Kzoo?
I was born in Kalamazoo, went through KPS, got the Kalamazoo Promise, went away to school at U of M, and now I am back in Kalamazoo cultivating my full-time painting career. I work at my studio at the Park Trades Center.
What is your favorite venue and/or spot to chill in Kzoo?
What season do you love most in Michigan? 
What is your go to jam, band, or music genre when creating?
It depends - all kinds! Every Thursday, I listen to the Beatles exclusively.
If you had an empty vessel and you could fill it with an infinite amount of any fluid you wanted, what would the fluid be?
Printer ink - I could sell it for beer money.
What can you talk about for hours?
Literature, spirituality, the human mind and behavior.
What is something most people don't know about you?
I play the piano. My favorite show is Love Boat. I love to cook Indian food.
Give a description of the art piece we are using for the shirts. 
I painted "Community" back in the summer of 2014. It was the first of a series of five paintings all about symbolism and meaning. Many friends lent a hand to this painting (pun intended) and to me personally, it represents the importance of being a part of something greater. When we let down our walls of identity, and allow ourselves to truly see the people around us, life is richer and more meaningful.
Are there any current events going on that you feel strongly about, think people should know more about, and/or should be taking a more active role in?
Of course! As a member of a community, and particularly as an artist, it's important to keep tabs on the overwhelming plethora of issues that are affecting people right now and in the future. I could write thousands of pages about everything that's broken and cruel in our world, and the many ways we could approach each problem. But what good would that do? For me, it's easier to start with real practices that I can actually accomplish in my daily life. First, get off the internet- it causes way too much anger, anxiety, and undue passion for the small amount of factual information it actually provides. And it's addictive. Second, read read read. I recommend starting with "Eviction: Poverty and Profit in the American City," by Matthew Desmond (Kalamazoo's community read this year), and "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," by Michelle Alexander. Third, cultivate compassion in your own life. Learn how to truly be with people, free of judgement. Smile and say hello. Help your neighbors. Keep your eyes open for ways to help on a larger scale. Remember that it's not about you.
Where can people find more of your art and more about you?

All of my completed works and artist statements are on my website at:

I keep a weekly blog at:

I post on my Facebook page daily at:

I am on Instagram at: