Art Beat: Art And Social Justice

Jun 25, 2020

Ellen VanderMyde
Credit Courtesy Ellen VanderMyde

For a young artist, Ellen VanderMyde has acquired an impressive list of experiences.

She’s a graduate of the Gwen Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University. She’s been a fine arts instructor at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, interned at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, worked as an apprentice jeweler, and as a social media manager and studio assistant.

When COVID-19 swept the country, driving many into seclusion, VanderMyde appreciated the quiet time, devoting herself fully to her art.

“I’ve always loved art. My first memories are of drawing,” VanderMyde says. “I followed that all through my life.”

VanderMyde says she chose to attend the Frostic School of Art in part because of the Kalamazoo Promise. There, she explored various art forms, finally focusing most keenly on painting and illustration.

"Walking Through"
Credit Ellen VanderMyde

“I just followed all my interests in an organic way. That’s typically how I work,” she says. “The work I’ve been making now while in social distancing is about isolation, observation and perception, and grounding my experience in the physical world since it’s such a strange time. My illustrative work has been pursuing different social issues.”

VanderMyde says she often portrays intersectional feminism and living a slower life despite the "time-is-money" philosophy she says guides our culture. Her work features bright, basic colors, and sometimes incorporates lyrics, poetry, and sayings.

“I think of my work as an ongoing conversation with the world,” VanderMyde says. In her current projects, she says, “I’ve been thinking a lot about partially obscuring parts of the paintings so that it’s a reminder that we can’t see everything from one vantage point.”

VanderMyde’s work can be seen on her Instagram page called Voyage with Ellen, and also at the art sites Vacant Museum and Stay Home Gallery.

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