Face of Above and Below, 2022
Face of the Night, 2022
Many Hands, 2019

Face of Above and Below, 2022
Face of the Night, 2022
Many Hands, 2019

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE

Interview With Artist Elena Stonaker

 

 

Elena Stonaker is a fine artist and designer whose work is inspired by myths and storytelling. She is also a Gemini, a tiger, and a close friend whose art feels to me like home. I was thrilled to chat with Elena about her craft, style and her new exhibition at our Soho store “No Mud No Lotus” curated by Studio Archive Project.

 

Mara Hoffman: Can you begin by introducing yourself?

 

Elena Stonaker: My name is Elena Stonaker. I am your friend and an artist of soft things and sparkly things.

 

MH: And a Gemini.

 

ES: Gemini. A lot of Gemini.

MH: A lot of Gemini, and a generator.

 

ES: And a generator.

 

MH: Where did you grow up?

 

ES: I grew up in Northern Colorado on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains in a little college town called Fort Collins.

 

MH: Can you describe your childhood?

 

ES: Very botanic, very introverted, lots of making forts for fairies, and time by myself playing with twigs and flowers and talking to flower spirits. Lots of reading books.

 

MH: Did you always want to be an artist?

 

ES: I grew up always making things with my hands. My early years, I went to a Waldorf school, so that was encouraged early on. I grew up making dolls and playing with dolls. When I look at what I do now, I'm basically doing the same thing I did when I was five or six.

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE

Interview With Artist
Elena Stonaker

Elena Stonaker is a fine artist and designer whose work is inspired by myths and storytelling. She is also a Gemini, a tiger, and a close friend whose art feels to me like home. I was thrilled to chat with Elena about her craft, style and her new exhibition at our Soho store “No Mud No Lotus” curated by Studio Archive Project.

Mara Hoffman: Can you begin by introducing yourself?

 

Elena Stonaker: My name is Elena Stonaker. I am your friend and an artist of soft things and sparkly things.

 

MH: And a Gemini.

 

ES: Gemini. A lot of Gemini.

MH: A lot of Gemini, and a generator.

 

ES: And a generator.

 

MH: Where did you grow up?

 

ES: I grew up in Northern Colorado on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains in a little college town called Fort Collins.

 

MH: Can you describe your childhood?

 

ES: Very botanic, very introverted, lots of making forts for fairies, and time by myself playing with twigs and flowers and talking to flower spirits. Lots of reading books.

 

MH: Did you always want to be an artist?

 

ES: I grew up always making things with my hands. My early years, I went to a Waldorf school, so that was encouraged early on. I grew up making dolls and playing with dolls. When I look at what I do now, I'm basically doing the same thing I did when I was five or six.

Big Mama, 2022

 

MH: And here we are, sitting in this robust, gorgeous, scaled version of one of your dolls. Who is this?


ES: This is big mama, one of the many big mamas.

MH: And what's special about this big mama? Who is she?

 

ES: Well, big mama is like a scaled version of any kind of goddess figure, any mother figure. I make them in order to make us feel small so we can feel how we did when we were children, when we were naturally full of awe. And so we can feel held in a soft place, by something soft and loving, so we can discover the darker things. There's so much hard in the world and I need some softness to go in there and start to do the work. I think others do too.

 

Big Mama, 2022

MH: And here we are, sitting in this robust, gorgeous, scaled version of one of your dolls. Who is this?


ES: This is big mama, one of the many big mamas.

MH: And what's special about this big mama? Who is she?

 

ES: Well, big mama is like a scaled version of any kind of goddess figure, any mother figure. I make them in order to make us feel small so we can feel how we did when we were children, when we were naturally full of awe. And so we can feel held in a soft place, by something soft and loving, so we can discover the darker things. There's so much hard in the world and I need some softness to go in there and start to do the work. I think others do too.

Soft Flower 1, 2019

Soft Flower 2, 2019

Soft Flower 3, 2019

MH: You've been doing it a little bit as we've been speaking, but how would you describe your art?


ES: I would describe it as an exploration in creating soft and wondrous places for us to land as an entrance to the more nuanced darknesses within our existence. I create a lot of depth in what I feel to be the feminine space (more on a spiritual than literal level). My medium is mostly fabric, which, historically, kind of has been a very feminine space for creative expression. I extensively work with hand stitching and beading which is very physical and laborious but also extremely meditative.

 

MH: What is your creative process? You're a generator, do you feel like a generator? (For those who don’t know, we're talking human design here.) You have this energetic spirit, but you have also such a restful, easeful way that you approach everything, too.

 

ES: Well, as far as energetically, we've talked a lot about this, but we call it tiger style.

 

MH: I learned tiger style from you, so could you please bring tiger style to the world?

 

ES: Tiger style was brought to me by one of my big teachers and friends, Jane Ann Thomas, who does a lot of readings with Vedic astrology, but also animal totems. She taught me about tigers and big cats. Energetically, they're so powerful, but 80% of the time they are literally lounging around and sleeping and just kind of feeling the air, watching the flies, soaking in the sun. And then when it's time to go, it's the 20%, and then that's when you bring out the jaws and you just snap.

 

Soft Flower 1, 2019

Soft Flower 2, 2019

Soft Flower 3, 2019

MH: You've been doing it a little bit as we've been speaking, but how would you describe your art?


ES: I would describe it as an exploration in creating soft and wondrous places for us to land as an entrance to the more nuanced darknesses within our existence. I create a lot of depth in what I feel to be the feminine space (more on a spiritual than literal level). My medium is mostly fabric, which, historically, kind of has been a very feminine space for creative expression. I extensively work with hand stitching and beading which is very physical and laborious but also extremely meditative.

 

MH: What is your creative process? You're a generator, do you feel like a generator? (For those who don’t know, we're talking human design here.) You have this energetic spirit, but you have also such a restful, easeful way that you approach everything, too.

 

ES: Well, as far as energetically, we've talked a lot about this, but we call it tiger style.

 

MH: I learned tiger style from you, so could you please bring tiger style to the world?

 

ES: Tiger style was brought to me by one of my big teachers and friends, Jane Ann Thomas, who does a lot of readings with Vedic astrology, but also animal totems. She taught me about tigers and big cats. Energetically, they're so powerful, but 80% of the time they are literally lounging around and sleeping and just kind of feeling the air, watching the flies, soaking in the sun. And then when it's time to go, it's the 20%, and then that's when you bring out the jaws and you just snap.

Cosmic Egg, 2022

MH: Do you think that fashion can be art?

 

ES: Of course.

 

MH: How about your personal style? What's your personal style?

 

ES: I like to be quirky, I like to embody color, and fun. I like it to be something that I could put in a piece of my work, maybe.

Giving Birth to Herself (Moon Lady), 2021

 

MH: Okay, last thing, what is a piece of advice or wisdom that you always return to?

 

ES: Well, I could touch on the name of the show “No Mud, No Lotus” which is the name of a book by the Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. I think we're going through such a breakdown of everything we know, and all of the systems. We are just going through the mud right now in every which way. But without that, there will never be the most beautiful enlightenment. So, just get cozy with the darkness.

 

What's another? Less flapping, more gliding. Because we have everything we need, every moment is just how our lens is working.

 

Cosmic Egg, 2022

MH: Do you think that fashion can be art?

 

ES: Of course.

 

MH: How about your personal style? What's your personal style?

 

ES: I like to be quirky, I like to embody color, and fun. I like it to be something that I could put in a piece of my work, maybe.

 

Giving Birth to Herself (Moon Lady), 2021

MH: Okay, last thing, what is a piece of advice or wisdom that you always return to?

 

ES: Well, I could touch on the name of the show “No Mud, No Lotus” which is the name of a book by the Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. I think we're going through such a breakdown of everything we know, and all of the systems. We are just going through the mud right now in every which way. But without that, there will never be the most beautiful enlightenment. So, just get cozy with the darkness.

 

What's another? Less flapping, more gliding. Because we have everything we need, every moment is just how our lens is working.

To inquire about works in the show please email lisha@studioarchiveproject.com

This conversation has been slightly condensed and edited for clarity

To inquire about works in the show please email lisha@studioarchiveproject.com

This conversation has been slightly condensed and edited for clarity

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