About Elissa



Elissa picking Quince

My evolution as an artist has been one of increasing intimacy with my audience. In this regard, it has always been my passion to craft objects that welcome physical contact as part of the interaction between art and spectator.

While attending college in Southern California I realized my affinity for visual arts and anthropology/archeology, which have remained lifelong passions. But I was restless in the 60's, so I quit to travel. During this time, I journeyed to Israel where I worked on an archeological excavation and in the kitchens of communal farms. There, I picked olives and citrus, gardened and painted flowery murals on bomb shelter walls.

My first artistic success upon returning to the United Sates was as a textile designer for the fashion industry. The intimate relationship of my artwork on cloth to the human body was satisfying.

In the 1970s I met my future husband and moved to Sonoma County. We rented a cottage with acreage and I completed my degree in fine arts. Our large garden, and flock of Plymouth Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red chickens provided much of what we ate. Surplus vegetables and fruit became preserving lessons. On weekends and during the summer, I worked for one of Sonoma County’s oldest wineries. It was exciting to see red wine being made in late 19th century open-redwood fermentation tanks. Through these experiences a joining of intention occurred between the sensations of cooking and eating and the sensations of visual arts.

After graduation, I continued to work at wineries, where I especially enjoyed my dialogue with chefs and winemakers. At that time I also learned to forage for local wild mushrooms, which has been an enduring love.

Later, we moved to Forestville. I returned to visual arts and studied cooking at a professional level. Then we began a family. Our home did not have garden space, but an old Smyrna quince tree grew on the hillside. We came to depend on the growers at The Healdsburg Farmer's Market, who have continued to feed my family for more than 20 years. Gradually more and more of what we ate was home-canned, foraged or fresh from the market. I acknowledged and honored my visceral impulse to glean, cook and preserve local foodstuffs.

My experience and love of Sonoma County have resulted in a long and meandering path from handmade food gifts to Artisan Preserves. I have come to realize that the interaction between artisan and eater is the most intimate relationship of artist to audience possible and offer my products to you in this spirit.



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