I want my work to express spirit and beauty, to carry my political passions as a cry against injustice and to call for celebration of eros, the creative life force.
Francisco Bay Area artist Elly Simmons (America, b. 1955) works with
a wide variety of material, including paint, pastel, mosaic, and
lithographic stone. Her concern with political and social issues such
as the abuse of women, homelessness and the struggle of all peoples for
lives of dignity are often merged in her work with fascinating
expressions of deeply felt mythic and personal imagery.
Simmons exhibits internationally and has her work in numerous public and
private collections, including The National Museum of Women in the Arts,
The Smithsonian Institution, The New York Public Library Department of
Prints and Drawings, and the Washington Hebrew Congregation. Private
collectors include The Packard Foundation, Robin Williams, Pete Seeger,
Eduardo Galeano, Roselyn Swig, Gerald Davis and Rosalie Sorrells.
She has exhibited, and has works in collections in Russia, Poland,
Japan, Ireland, Canada, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Australia, and
all across the United States.
State Gary Kamiya, of Image Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle:
"An artist who strives to address the problems of his or her time faces
a tricky aesthetic balancing act. Explicitly political art often has
all the depth and aubtlety of a megaphone exhortation. But at its'
best, engaged art stirs both the soul and the mind, revealing the
ineluctible connection between the world of the streets and the universe
of the spirit, magicallyl embodying Keats' dictum that beauty is truth
and truth beauty. Elly Simmons' work achieves this rare feat. It is an
extraordinary blend of political passion; and artistic complexity. Her
paintings wed medium and message perfectly, outrage never collapses into
propaganda, nor does her work's dreamlike vitality, its' formal
elegance, dilute its' fervor."
Words from Dublin, Ireland art critic, painter and music producer Gerald
"Joy", "celebration" and humour" are words that seem to be less and less
used in the vocabulary of modern art. This is all the more reason that
we should welcome the work of Elly Simmons. Her work is full of
affirmation of life. Her paintings, graphics and tapestries bring
vitality and colour whereever they are seen. Informed, since childhood,
by studying the work of major Mexican, European and American artists,
she takes her own experience of life in California, the climate, nearby
Mexico, Central and South America, indigenous Northwest Native American
art and her own Jewish culture and combines them to create her
idiosyncratic vision. Art critic Harry Roche synthesized her work with
the term "World Art Wave".
The accessibility of her work belies the technique that goes into making
it. Whether she is using paint, designing tapestries or creating
lithographs, she has mastered the craft she chooses to use. She has
created her own iconography. For the children's book, "Just Like Me",
when asked to explain to children what inspires her to paint, she
states, "I paint my love of life! I paint pomegranates, birds,,
mountains and people. I paint what gives me joy, or makes me sad or
mad, I paint to protest homelessness, war and injustice, and to
celebrate the beauty of a sunflower outside my door."