Ellen Stavitsky was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1951. She earned a Masters in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a M.F.A. in Painting from Pratt Institute. On her honeymoon in Japan, she was inspired by the elegant minimalism and restraint of Japanese art, architecture, and design. Her early collages combined handmade paper, Chinese joss paper, collograph prints on rice paper, thread, fabric, and pages from old books to form delicately layered compositions. A critic described these collages as “deeply focused and mutely distanced, each one carefully assembled by an eye of subtle concentration and emotion. Stavitsky’s work invites the close contemplation of the thoughtful and unhurried viewer. It contains treasures.”
As her work evolved, Stavitsky used architectural drawings, oil paint, watercolor, gouache and colored pencils to create pieces that evoke emotions contained beneath the surface. In her collages, pieces of paper are torn apart and reassembled to create mysterious images. Layers combine to form a coherent whole, unified by the quirky relationships between the diverse elements. Stavitsky states that her work "is a fleeting state of the mind at work...the carefully balanced compositions impose a sense of order on the random quality of thought and the ephemeral stream of thoughts that dart through the brain."
Stavitsky’s mixed media wood panels have a self-contained presence. She uses oil pastel, ink, colored pencil, paint, watercolor crayons, pages from vintage Japanese books, antique ledgers, and a variety of patterned paper. The elegance of each composition is punctuated by marks and patterns that break the quietude of the whole. Her art was eloquently interpreted by an art critic who wrote, “The sophisticated elegance of [Stavitsky’s] work comes from this tension between seemingly simple elements in precarious balance.”
Stavitsky has taught art at The Dalton School, for 21 years, serving as Department Chair for 12 years. She was also Adjunct Professor of Art Education at Pratt Institute, a museum educator at the Brooklyn Museum, and an artist in residence in several schools. She maintains a studio in Brooklyn, New York.
Stavitsky’s work is included in numerous museum collections, as well as many private and public collections.