We had the good fortune of connecting with Ellen Murray Meissinger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ellen Murray, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As a visual artist, I think risks are absolutely essential to help push myself and my art in new directions. I do not sit down and calculate percentages of risk to reward before I take a risk. Instead I try to stay open to new possibilities outside my comfort zone. As a result, in most instances when I have taken a risk, the rewards have been surprising and definitely worth the risk. Risk taking has led to international travel, exhibition opportunities, invitations to talk about my work and teach workshops, collaborations with experts outside my discipline, sale of works, national recognition, lasting friendships, and some really fun and amazing experiences.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art deals with elements of time, space, reflection, and sense of place. The paintings, watercolors, drawings, installations, and mixed-media works I create are often a combination of colorful, reflective, and dynamic forms with complex personal narratives. I use the world around me to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. As a first-generation college student, I got where I am professionally thanks to the initial encouragement and mentorship I received from teachers, friends, and colleagues. I have spent most of my professional career in academia as a university professor. To overcome many of the challenges I faced, hard work, patience, gratitude, honesty, and humor were important ingredients in my professional and personal life. Above all, I remain passionate about what I am doing and why I am doing it!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Sight Seeing: Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum, Desert Botanical Garden, Lost Dutchman State Park (easy hiking), South Mountain Park, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art ( SMoCA), Old Town Scottsdale, Musical Instrument Museum, Taliesin West, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Last Chance (bargain shopping), ASU Tempe Campus and Art Museum, and Mystery Castle. Food, Drink and Chilling: Barrio Cafe, La Grande Orange (LGO), Adelia’s Italian Restaurant, Wildflower Bakery, Postino’s, House of Tricks, Farm at South Mountain, Pizzeria Bianco, Malees Thai Bistro, Los Olivos, and Olive & Ivy.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, family, and close friends certainly deserve a shoutout for all their love, help, and support! I want to give a special shoutout this year to my ASU students. In 2020 we journeyed into the remote and uncharted land of ZOOM. Thanks for your commitment and resilience. Together we discovered how to adapt, learn, and grow creatively in some surprising and unexpected new ways.