My name is Ellie Honl and I am currently an art professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. I am originally from Stevens Point, a city of about 35,000 in Central Wisconsin. My mother is an art teacher so I was very fortunate to have early exposure to the arts. I had an endless supply of art materials, and my mom took my younger brother and I to a lot of art museums growing up. We lived in an area where there weren’t many other children, so my brother and I spent a lot of time entertaining ourselves by building forts in the forest behind our house, Lego cities, and elaborate canal systems in our sandbox. I also taught myself things like calligraphy and needlepoint. This history of exploration and independence contributes to my art making today.
I thought about being an artist as a child, but in high school I loved math and science, and planned to become a psychiatrist or architect. It wasn’t until my junior year at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota that I finally decided to pursue studio art. Even though I liked a lot of different subjects, art was the one that fulfilled me the most and satisfied my need to create. The subject of psychology and architectural elements play a major role in my artwork today.
I pursued printmaking at the University of Iowa and received my MFA in 2008. Since then, I have taught art at a number of Universities and art centers across the country while continuing to make my own artwork.
My artwork utilizes printmaking techniques along with photographic and time-based media. I’ve currently been making screenprints and cyanotypes that I incorporate together by sewing, and I often paint and add other collaged elements to them. I also make stop-motion animations with these prints and/or parts of these prints.
I am inspired by the wonders I observe around me (often in nature) but the outcome of my artwork is usually about the human condition: how we cope, how we perceive, and how we are affected by our past. It is about the human desire to find stability. Through my artwork, I try to understand why things are the way they are and strive to find logic in the random. I work intuitively allowing myself to experiment with unpredictable processes to discover new marks and imagery. Many times these initial investigations look chaotic and they provide a problem for me to resolve. I impose order through geometric forms and color, while making connections through lines, written explanations, and collage elements. My work is often detailed and visually appealing, and I hope that it draws people in and causes them to enjoy the process of looking.
Check back later in the week to read about Ellie’s creative process in Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ellie Honl: Part II.
You can see more of Ellie’s artwork on her website at www.elliehonl.com. Stop by to see three of her pieces (including one honorable mention!) in our current juried exhibition, Structurally Speaking.
Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by architectural painter Susan Stuart.