On the Consolations of the Sharp and Pinnate: The Art of Elsa Mora

Early last week, while I was still grieving intensely for our departed tabbycats, I clicked on through to the other side and landed in the wondrous creative universe of Elsa Mora. To describe her as a mixed-media artist originally from Cuba and now living in L.A. does little to convey the vast breadth of her work or the astonishing history of her life. She does papercutting, embroidery, fiber art, and ceramics, as well as drawing and painting. In her blog, “Elsita” writes charmingly about the backstory and creative process for each piece she features in her expert photos. Her explanations of her works, which frequently draw on psychological and folkloric material, read like an illuminated catalog of Jung’s archetypes.

What grabbed my eye most strongly is her papercutting art–also here, here, and here–and especially her interpretations of plant shapes. Trees abound, with vining, pinnate leaf pairs structuring and bordering her evocative scenes. Important symbolic parts of the human body–heads, hearts, eyes, wombs–sprout, and are formed by, graceful stems of leaves. At the tips, those leaves are pointy-sharp, like the knives and scissors that Elsa Mora uses to create them.

I find something consoling, something deeply clarifying, in those leaves and their sharpness. Is it in their being so crisply paired, ordered, symmetrical? Or/and that the vines and branches connecting those leaves also help form the symbol-rich human figures in many of her pieces?

It seems that each of those leaf pairs is its own tiny scissors, trimming away my grief-frayed edges.

I’m slowly treating myself to the large archives of her main blog, a page or two a day, for ongoing consolation. And inspiration, too:  I’m beginning to feel another leafy project coming on.

5 comments on “On the Consolations of the Sharp and Pinnate: The Art of Elsa Mora

  1. Well, this was fun. I enjoy this kind of thing–moving things around, tinkering, seeing what the possibilities are. When a poem is set next to another one, they both change. I imagine it’s both exhilarating and frustrating to be working with 60 or so! Thanks for this lovely peek into your manuscript-organizing experience. I can’t wait to see the final product–in hardback!

    • Jeffrey! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Yes, setting one poem next to another sure is interesting–they pick up resonances from each other, and from their more distant neighbors, too. In some cases, those resonances become metaphors (meta-metaphors???). I’m still learning how to manage these effects.


  2. This reply got put under the wrong post! Was supposed to be to the manuscript post.

  3. […] as of Oct. 10:  Jeffrey Klausman’s comment on this post, and my reply, ended up over here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in […]

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