Are you familiar with the gorgeous cut-paper creations of New York-based multi-media artist Elsa Mora?
Although she is a multi-disciplinary artist — photography, ceramics, jewelry design, painting, illustration, bookmaking — it was her stunning papercuts that first caught my eye about five or six years ago.
Originally from Holguín, Cuba, Elsa grew up poor, the fifth of eight children. Though she was exposed to many of life’s harsh realities at an early age, her MO for survival has always been the ability to envision her own reality, using the resources at hand.
When she was 16, she learned her birthday was actually May 9 instead of May 8. Apparently her mother preferred the 8th because that year it was Mother’s Day. This discovery changed Elsa’s thinking — she decided she could be whoever she wanted to be.
Growing up poor taught me a series of important lessons that I will always treasure. I learned that the most precious possession that you have is your mind. I also learned that creativity and imagination could solve any problem, whether it’s a material problem or an emotional one.
Elsa left home at 16 and attended The Professional School of Visual Arts in Camagüey. After graduating, she taught art for two years and then worked part-time in an art gallery. She then moved to Havana, where, after meeting a patron/mentor, she became a visiting artist at the University of Chicago. She exhibited her paintings and traveled to Europe. Through a lot of hard work, she was eventually able to make a living as a full-time artist.
Her work has been exhibited all over the world, and can be currently found in the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, and in numerous private collections in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Australia, Japan and the United States.
She’s been commissioned by the likes of Redbook, The New York Times Magazine, MoMA, Chronicle Books, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan for a wide range of posters, cards, books, book covers, and illustrations.
She is married to film producer and writer William Horsberg (“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Milk,” “Kite Runner,” “Cold Mountain”), has two children, and is currently the full time Artistic Director of ArtYard, an arts organization founded by a group of artists, filmmakers, curators and writers.
Elsa is also currently working on a solo exhibition for the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, OR, which will take place in 2018. Mora’s work reflects on universal issues of identity, connectivity, and survival. She is passionate about forming and strengthening communities through the transformational power of art, creativity, and collaboration.
Here are a few examples of other things she’s done. Love the whimsy!
Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.