Lynn Christina Elishaw
East Indian and Portuguese descent
doodling at 5 / blending colors, 10 / water colors, 14 / oils, 19 /acrylics, 27…
laughing at myself~~
and other stuff I’m sure
Lynn Elishaw’s art – from her own material to her exquisite interpretations of spiritual explosive attention to her spiritual forlorn journeys—seem to exist inside a twilight on the cusp of the magical and the realistic. Boring through the illusion of the material world into the tall grasses of her meadow mind, trekking down trodden paths of holy woes, and Holy Ghosts on the wind of exhales, inhales, screams, and prayers, she manages to weave time-honored Archetypal imagery of the ancient and the modern metaphysical scales of Mystery and Scripture.
Growing up in Granada Hills, California (20 minutes north of Los Angeles) in the valley, “Lynnix,” an artist from the early age of 5 years old, received “initiation” with a fat lead pencil and a fat five-inch thick notepad kept near the telephone. And if her mum was on the phone and needed to use the pad? Twould not be there, “You used up all my papers again, Lynnie?!”
Filled with suns that have smiley faces and houses with picket fences and stick figures, her notepad-art quickly grew into a more sophisticated accuracy, from the guidance of her father, Peter Elishaw. He taught her the art of colors. How a cloud is not just white, but had hints of grey and blue. How one side of a bowl is dark, but if it had an enamel then a strike of a thick dab of white could make it come alive!
Homework assignments and school projects brought on the attention of her schoolmates. If someone wanted their assignment to look artistic they’d say, “Oh, oh! Give it to Lynn. She’ll make it look good.” That fair dose of healthy pride paved the confidence to stand solitary inside the complex emotions of her adolescent years of high school where art took a deep nose dive into the inner psyche. She forfeited form, realism, and pleasing her father.
Instead, her images splashed in unrequited crushes, confused revelations of Self, and the raised hands that groped in the dark for something larger than the material world. It was then that her love of all things Mysterious and Spiritual grew. The murmurs of something deep in the Holy domains and spheres of Purified Light lured her to a deeper silence –often mistaken by peers as moodiness. Simply, she was being studious –in more ways than just in the classroom.
Having traveled the world so much with her mum and dad by age 18, she had seen the art and architecture of the ancient and the renaissance cultures. These images lay dormant within her –a tossed album of memories ready for a moment of explosive attention. The places:
ASIA: New Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Cochin, India; Kathmandu, Nepal; Singapore
EUROPE: London, Rome, Florence, Venice, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Sevilla, Lisbon
AUSTRALIA: Perth, Sydney
AMERICAS: San Francisco, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Maui, Hawaii; Costa Rica, Nicaragua, The Bahamas
That explosion came after high school, after summer, and two days before the start of college. Her father, on August 29th, 1997 had heart surgery. A surgery resulting in 5 bypasses, 4 minor strokes and the inability to speak or walk strongly. In the beginning, her mother encouraged her father to paint. He did with his left hand, but he was right handed, and that was the partially paralyzed side of his body affected by the strokes. Over the years, more minor strokes came, blindness in his right eye, and the inability to do simple things like change the channel on the remote control or even hold a spoon for his own food. Painting was no more for Lynn’s first teacher.
One day in 1999 she had recalled a bygone memory from her youth where her father gave a quick tutorial about Oil Paints. The lingering scent of Marlboro Light buds in an old brass ashtray (he still had from his homeland of India) and the light coolness of Old Spice –the two mnemonic scents of her father– struck her memory: He mostly held her hand and she mostly obliged, half heartedly, knowing it was not truly her first oil painting. Nonetheless that vague memory pierced the front of her forehead like a bullet. So she ran for it.
She ran to the part of the house where he would paint. She found those tell tale souvenirs of his pasttime. (Up until then, Lynnie, as he’d call her, had only used water colors and never touched the Master of all paints—oil.) And so there she was standing in front of his easel, paint tubes, used brushes, and an unfinished painting of poppy fields collecting dust. Then
she stepped forward…
When Lynnix finally graduated California State University, Northridge in 2002 she had a BA degree in Religious Studies, along with two minors in Women’s Studies and Anthropology. Then she went ahead and received another BA degree in English as well as a Teaching Credential in English Literature in 2006.
During and after college Lynn was found painting for friends, for open mic poetry spots at cafes, non-profit organizations, private clients. She joined a poetry band, performed on stage in political satiric plays, sang her own songs at open mics and nonprofit events, and eventually landed her first humble showing at a gallery. It was in the inner city, at the Watts Arts Gallery, but she was equally excited saying that, “Accomplishment brings Confidence.”
That confidence led her to teach art and poetry together in a workshop she developed called PoArtry. It is designed to help others develop their own inner cathartic writer and artist within. Believing that every one is an artist, she is often quoted saying, “If you took your strangest dream and turned it into a film, no doubt it would be looked at as some kind of avante garde art film. That being said, you are an artist! I’m just going to guide your subconscious to have a playground is all!”
While teaching, tutoring, and subbing at schools in Los Angeles, she held PoArtry workshops at cultural centers and private homes. All of which helped many people –mostly women—cope with major decisions and/or trauma in their lives. The range of healing guided by the workshop helped women to gain much clarity (broken relationships, decisions to move out of state, the struggle to quit smoking, acknowledging child abuse that had been denied, etc). It was indeed a powerful time to lead and she held her leadership with great respect and sensitivity.
More joy came when she worked at Camp David Gonzalez Probation Department and taught the incarcerated young men (aged 16-18) PoArtry. “The confidence, posture, and grace that developed was powerful. Cutting through—that is editing—their poems and finding expressions of freedom that honored the artistry of graffiti and tagging –actions that would lead to legal trouble with the police—they found a deeper sense of Self. The private world of the Self that accessed emotions was too difficult to talk about –especially as male youth living in the inner cities. Some created images of their journey-to-confidence as a tall tree pushing metaphorically through the clouds. Still others drew heart-shaped smoke coming out of a crack pipe with the image of an arm reaching out of jail bars to touch the pregnant belly of a girlfriend. Shocking, but striking and potently truthful.” The workshop helped to give witness to who and where their actions led and could lead them to. Teaching PoArtry to the young men gave “Miss Lynn” a deep and tender pride that made her feel she was doing God’s work.
Only taught by her father, and taking one general ed art class in college, Lynnix discovered that she enjoyed learning on her own, unfettered by the rules and the theory of Fine Arts. Her images come from dreams, from scriptures, from paint, from passion. When she broke away from realism –as her dad had taught her—she would show her father the strange images. He would not understand, but would adjust his glasses, hold it close, study it, then hold it far, and nod. He gave kudos if the perspective and the lighting stayed in true form. Other than that, he did not understand his teenage daughter’s mind. And he was probably okay with that.
His nod, in her mind, was his aproval. And to this day, she’ll still run up to her Dad, while he sits in his wheel chair (16 years later), unable to speak much, only seeing out of one eye. And she’ll wait for his small faint smile that silently let’s her know he likes it.
Not always perfect, not always abstract, Lynn “Lynnix” Elishaw, has an art form unbound by genre. She is often asked what her style is and she will often reply “I’ve no idea…it’s like a little of everything.” But if one were to pin down a category simply for her divinely organized chaos, one would say:
Lynnix is a devotee. She listens to her spirit. She listens to God. Source. The vibrations of the Universe. She follows her uncanny cravings and let’s her hands be invoked by something above and beyond her but, within her too. No longer latent, or dormant, she oozes a loving lava of phoenix change –not just for her own soul, but also for others’ souls. She goes to languageless places of deep, deep emotion, nebulous in form, and summons a mysterious force by trusting her own oddities. A child of the Most High, she paints because she loves living close to that realm where Wisdom speaks, sometimes in tongues, sometimes in paint.
I hope that the Holy within you finds a home in the art. –Lynnix