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 Ellen Denise Phelan  (1943 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Michigan      Known for: mod dolls, flowers, landscape

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Ad Code: 3
Ellen Denise Phelan
from Auction House Records.
© 2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ellen Phelan was born in 1943 and spent her childhood in Detroit, Michigan. Her mother was a nurse and her father was a real estate salesman. She considered herself a misfit, she was a talented child who drew and painted with facility, and she also played the violin and sang well enough to consider a career in music. In 1961 Phelan entered Wayne State University in Detroit eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree.

One of her first teaching jobs was at the California Institute of the Arts, in the late 1970s. A more recent one was as professor of Studio Arts in the Visual and Environmental Studies department at Harvard University.

In 1978 she married sculptor Joel Shapiro. They spend five months of the year in the Adirondack Mountains and the remaining months in New York City. They describe their relationship in terms of professional respect as well as personal affection.

Phelan is recognized for her disturbing images of dolls and for her floral still lifes. She has refused to confine herself to an easily recognizable style, but instead moves gracefully between high romantic landscapes, lush abstraction and the cryptic portraits of dolls.

Sources include:
From the Internet,
Shapechanger by Margaret Moorman in ARTnews,February 1992

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher form Laguna Woods, California.

A painter who travels between homes in New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ellen Phelan is recognized for her disturbing images of dolls and also for floral still lifes.

She is also professor of Studio Arts in the Visual and Environmental Studies department at Harvard University. Her husband is sculptor Joel Shapiro.


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