Text by Ellen Jantzen
Trees teach us about belonging; they remind us that life doesn’t need permission to prevail. Trees are sanctuaries. If we listen closely, we can learn the ancient law of life. They are seen as powerful symbols of growth, decay and resurrection. They have played a prominent role in many folktales and legends and have been given deep and sacred meanings.
But, a tree’s longevity can lull us into a false sense of immortality. It is this very impermanence that I long to understand through my photographic explorations. There is an ineffable natural beauty…. too great to be expressed or described in words.
In this series I am using imagery to convey my ‘feelings’ about the state of nature, the nature of trees, and how to express their connection to past, present and future. By obscuring a portion of the image through a veil, I strive to heighten the remaining reality through discovery and reflection.
Can Artists Heal Nature?
As human actions impact the natural environment, can artists heal nature? Does art bring ‘special powers’ to the table? If so, what are they? What is ‘art’? What is ‘nature’? What needs healing? What arrogance!
Disturbing the Spirits deals with both reality and time (past/present/future) and my growing attachment to the healing powers of the natural environment.
My life has taken a turn over the last four years. I returned to my place of birth in the US Midwest after leaving my home of 20 years. I left my California home with a range of emotions, from deep regret, loss and grief to longing an anticipations of what was to come; there is a new life brewing within.
I have been searching for meaning in my new life and have taken solace in the nature of this region…its ever changing seasons bring about an awareness of the fleetingness of life. I have an obsession with disappearance, of revealing only bits of reality and obscuring the rest through a veil of obscurity.
Ellen Jantzen was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri. Her early college years were spent obtaining a degree in graphic arts; later emphasizing fine art. Upon graduation she and her husband, Michael, settled down on acreage in Southern Illinois and set about to construct several solar and energy efficient structures including their 2400 square foot home. Organic gardens and goat husbandry took center stage in Ellen’s life but a desire for a more ‘artistic’ life led the couple to Los Angeles California.
Ellen spent two years at FIDM (the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in downtown Los Angeles. Here, she obtained her advanced degree in 1992. After a few years working in the industry, including several years at Mattel Toy Company as a senior project designer, she became disillusioned with the corporate world and longed for a more creative outlet. Having been trained in computer design while at Mattel, Ellen continued her training on her own using mostly Photoshop software.
As digital technology advanced and the newer cameras were producing excellent resolution, Ellen found her perfect medium. It was a true confluence of technical advancements and creative desire that culminated in her current explorations in photo inspired art using both a camera to capture staged assemblages and a computer to alter and manipulate the pieces. Ellen has been creating works that bridge the world of prints, photography and collage.