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Carolyn Elaine has conducted residencies and facilitated collaborative public art since 1997. She has worked with organizations such as Urban Gateways, Chicago Public Art Group, Art Resources in Teaching, and Gallery 37. Elaine has received several Neighborhood Arts Grants from the Department of Cultural Affairs, and her continued work at the Cook County Juvenile Correction Center is made possible through private funding as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Art in Public Places grant. Most recently, Elaine has been awarded a commission under the City of Chicago 1% Program for the Arts for the new 7th District Police Station located in the Englewood community.
Just like a mosaic, the inspiration for my work often comes in bits and pieces. The intricate process of assembling a design from fragments is comparable to meditation for me. I see it as a metaphor for life. Ceramic tile itself begins as clay, something soft and formative, and yet while under fire, it strengthens, resulting in a finished product that is extremely durable but fragile at the same time.
It feels peculiar to break perfectly good pieces of tile to get the fragments, but sometimes you have to shatter something before you can redefine it for yourself. The use of broken pieces salvages that which you hold dear but also unlocks the beauty of the cracks between them, telling a separate but equally powerful story.