Elise Leutwyler  |  Fibers  |  Arizona

Artist Statement

I approach art as a means to let a person’s mind wander from the every-day and connect with their inner child, whose eyes still see the world as a place where anything can happen. I believe everyone felt a wide-eyed adoration of the world or at least yearned for it when they were young. Kids want to play and be happy, but as we grow older we learn about responsibility and forget that becoming an adult is about balancing that responsibility with our childlike excitement, not eradicating it.

My art encourages us to nurture or even rekindle that lost connection to our inner child; the connection to a time when adult stresses weren’t part of our lives. I make crocheted hats of the most awesome nature. Whether it's the monster under your bed or your favorite cuddly animal, having it warm your brain ball is always fun.

Q&A with Elise Leutwyler

What process/materials did you use to create your artwork? I enjoy working with all kinds of materials, but for Devour Your Head I focus mainly on fiber. Whether it's crocheting, knitting, felting, or sewing, I'll put it to use. Sometimes I get to have a little fun and do some clay sculpting and resin casting for things like horns and teeth.

What inspires you to create and what inspires your work?  I feel it's important to create things that remind people of whimsical things in the world, whether that means the outside world or the world in their heads. I love delving in to other worlds people have made to really stretch my brain and get it going. Usually that means looking at artwork of crazy monsters and otherworldly scenery, and reading sci fi and fantasy stories.

If you had to describe your artwork in 5 words or less, what words would you use?   Whimsical creatures for any occasion

What other artists inspire you? What's your favorite art work?  My art tastes are a little all over the place. I like looking at fantasy artwork, so staples like Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi are up there. I also drink a lot in from reading comics, particularly Image comics. They have a slew of artists that always catch my eye such as Fiona Staples of Saga. As for sculpture, the creepy/fun style of Amanda Louise Spayd and Chris Ryniak gets me. Lately I've also been pining over Erika Sanada's style of odd and adorable animals. I can't say I have any favorite art work in particular, there are too many out there to choose from.

What do you want your viewers to know about you as an artist (if anything?)  Life is about experimenting, trying new things, and testing the limits of what you can do. So forgive any horrible art I may produce.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?  Don't take life too seriously.

What is your favorite artist tool?  My hands. The more I can do with my bare hands, the better.

What is your dream project?  Some day I want to make a giant, realistic creature that I can climb on and maybe even take naps on. It's becoming something of a creature/fort in my head at the moment.

What do you like about your work?  I like the creatures that come out of my work sometimes. Every now and then I'll just start without planning anything and I get a chance to just let my mind wander.

How has your practice or process changed over time?  My practice has become a little more work oriented and less experimental / play focused. Interestingly enough, my art has usually been focused on balancing work and play so I'm looking forward to how it changes in the near future.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?  Working on my senior exhibition piece at ASU produced my favorite responses to something I'd made. I crafted a shed from found wood and placed it on top of a catamaran with a little step ladder to the entrance. Inside, I placed all of my work including wooden toys, hand printed comics, and goofy sculptures, making it a sort of workshop. When people went inside they could play with and touch any of the objects inside, all to a looping soundtrack of a boat creaking in the ocean.  Watching people experience the little world I';d made was an awesome reward for my work. I particularly enjoyed seeing how hesitant everyone was to touch anything, and how much more relaxed and excited they got when they realized it was OK.

Why art?  If art didn't exist the world would become very stale and stagnant. Art is one way to open different doors in your head, whether you're an artist or someone who loves art. A healthy mind should have as many doors open as possible and be able to breath.

Website:  www.DevourYourHead.com