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Not A Cornfield Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
Elizabeth is an artist, weaver and teacher in Greanbelt, MD. Elizabeth Lundberg Morissette

 

Cause & Effect + Art & Environment
Fiber-Artist Turns eBay Collections into
Works of Art

March-April, 2008

Mental Contagion:
You've said that you like to use materials that have had "previous lives," such as recycled clothing and collections you find on eBay. What do you enjoy about making sculptures and tapestries out of stuff with history?

Elizabeth Lundberg Morissette: I think I like making art out of items with previous lives because I am sentimental at heart. As a child, my family moved around a lot. Items given to me by my grandparents and other people special to me brought me comfort when I was in new situations. I also like for viewers of my work to rethink how they use and dispose of items they use everyday.

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
"Keeping Tabs " | Aluminum pull tabs and wire

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
"Blister" | Plastic blister packaging and glue; 20" x 40" x 3"

Mental Contagion: What insights have you gained into America's collection compulsion after making these pieces? Are we a pack rat society, or is there something more there?

Elizabeth Lundberg Morissette: I guess the biggest insight is that everyone collects things for different reasons.

I talked to a woman who was cleaning out her Mother's house. She said she asked her Mom, "Mom, why have you kept all of this stuff for so long?" Her Mother replied, "To show I was here." That was pretty interesting, a physical symbol for a mental void.

Another insight was into the culture of eBay. At the beginning of this series of work, I purchased items exclusively on eBay. Many of the people bought lots from estate sales and then sold them intact to me. Some sold to send their l kids to private schools. Several who were disabled and eBay was a good way to make a living. For others it was just a hobby. Either way, eBay is a virtual community complete with etiquette and rules to help the society run.

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
"This Side Toward Screen" | Slides and cotton twine woven on a cotton warp; 33" x 40" x 2"

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
"O 2 (Oxygen)" | Woven wall hanging made from white plastic curtain rings, white cotton fabric and cotton twine; 33" x 24"

Mental Contagion: Do you collect anything?

Elizabeth Lundberg Morissette: I collect Fisher Price Little people. When I was a kid, I collected hotel soap, sugar packets, buttons, and stamps.

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
"Aquatic" | Crocheted lace; 12" x 7" x 10"

Mental Contagion: You've used collections of everything from hair curlers to toy soldiers to bottle caps. How do you decide what to buy? What catches your eye about them?

Elizabeth Lundberg Morissette:There are several factors I put into choosing a collection. The first is cumulative weight. The first piece I did in the series was called "Made in China." It was created using McDonalds Happy Meal toys woven on a 40" x 35" tapestry. When the piece was done it weighed close to 50 lbs and I could hardly lift it!! I also consider the palette. I don't alter the colors of the objects I find, so the colors have to work together for me in some kind of harmony. I also choose relatively small elements, and this gives more variety on the textures of the piece. But, essentially any mass quantity of items is fair game to put into one of my pieces.

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
"Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice" | Woven fabric, cotton string and plastic hair clips 33" x 40"


Mental Contagion: What are some of the stranger collections you've come across?

Elizabeth Lundberg Morissette: I have a collection of old toothbrushes someone brought into my studio. I also have a collection of IV tubes someone cleaned out and brought into me.

The most unusual story I can tell you about the collections is about Dennis. My studio is in a Community Center. This is a great fit for me, because my work is inspired by the community I live in. In our community there is an Autistic man named Dennis. Dennis is about 45 years old and he visits me every afternoon. When he visits, he doesn't talk to me, he talks about me. He says things like, "Elizabeth Morisette uses things like this for her weavings. Someday she will make this into a great creation." Then he leaves a bag full of items such as trophies or twist ties. All items I can and do use in my work. It is really an unusual but wonderful way my work has touched another soul.

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
Digest series | 30 sculptures created using old textbook pages, thread, staples and wax. Each sculpture is modeled after 'villi' the fingerlike inner lining of our intestines that help us digest food.


Mental Contagion: What do you suppose it means that people not only collect seemingly insignificant items, such as twist ties or safety pins, but then are willing to put them up for sale?

Elizabeth Lundberg Morissette: I think people are responding to an impulse. Maybe an impulse to not generate so much trash, maybe a wish to be a part of something bigger than themselves. In the case of my work, I find people see my work and use it as a teaching tool to children in their life. To teach them to look at my work and think of ways they could make art out of recycled materials. I also find that the more people know about my work, the less I have to actually purchase. People deliver a lot of items right to my studio that I can use for art. They come back later and say, "Hey, I think that is my button!" It is pretty cool to have the ability to bring that much joy.



About the Artist


Maryland-based fiber artist and educator Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette uses objects that have a history in her artwork. From people ’s old clothing to collections found on eBay, she weaves tapestries and sculptures that interplay with memory and emotion.

“These pieces each have many stories to tell,” she says. “This series explores the human need to collect, and explores what our collections say about us.” Elizabeth is a 1994 graduate of North Carolina State University School of Design.

To learn more about Elizabeth’s art, visit her flickr profile or elmorisette.blogspot.com.


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