Studio Clips: Meet Ellen Struve

Creative Prompt

A simple, but fun at-home exercise!

All you need to make your own shadow puppets are your hands, a wall and a light source.  A bedside lamp or table lamp works perfectly.

Put one hand between the light and the wall so that you can clearly see the shadow of your hand.

Then, simply by changing the shape of your hand, you can make animals, birds and other characters come to life.

My grandfather used to do this before slide shows when we were growing up and it was always great fun.

Artist Q&A

  1. Describe your normal studio or workplace.
    Normally, I’m making my work in a theater with actors and designers and directors and stage crew and audiences.
  2. Describe your makeshift studio or workplace in a time of social distancing or isolation.
    Social distancing has definitely increased my appreciation for the large numbers of people it takes to bring a show together. Making this show in my house with my family was a joy as well. Turning our bedroom into a makeshift production space wasn’t ideal, but it was worth it to be able to perform live for our audience members.
  3. How has sharing your work with co-creatives or others shifted?
    There is so much Zoom in my life, but I’ve been grateful to have a method of story sharing.
  4. What is your favorite non-art oriented activity that inspires you?
    I believe strongly in the idea that “walking is writing.” Walking the trail and our neighborhood streets has been enormously beneficial.
  5. How has working in a socially distant environment affected your work?
    Besides conning my husband and children into making a show with me, it’s pushed me into exploring different modes of storytelling and working on my visual storytelling.
  6. What is your favorite go-to snack after long hours working on you artistic practice?
    Rosemary Triscuits are the devil.
  7. What are one/two of your favorite books that resonate with you and/or your practice?
    There’s a wonderful book by Robert Adams, Why People Photograph, that has meant a great deal to me. His desire “to affirm life without lying about it” speaks to me. Also, when I need to experience beauty, I turn to The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell. Such gorgeous and interesting scientific prose.
  8. Who are one/two of your favorite artists that inspire you?
    Caroline Shaw and Valerie Coleman are composers that I can’t get enough of and right now I am deeply inspired by the First First Draft cohort at Great Plains Theatre Commons. Their energy and ideas are keeping me buzzing