Based in scenic Santa Barbara, California, Eliot Spaulding (she/her) finds inspiration in the natural surroundings that shape her work as a multidisciplinary artist. Her work explores human involvement in vulnerable ecosystems. 

During Spaulding’s ritualistic visits to the ocean, she gathers inspiration, studies the local geology, and collects washed-up waste material for use in future works. These outings not only offer peace but also ignite creativity, leading to projects that celebrate the beauty of the Earth and the importance of preserving it.

Although Spaulding’s work is mixed media, her practice is primarily fiber art. A crucial aspect of her craft is the use of secondhand and upcycled materials. This approach not only addresses her concern for sustainability but also fosters creativity within the confines of available resources. The challenge of transforming discarded materials into something beautiful and meaningful drives her artistic process. She arrived at this material choice, after spending a decade creating large-scale displays for commercial retail purposes. The inherent short life-cycle of these seasonal works, combined with the rampant wastefulness of the fashion industry at large, inspired Spaulding to give materials a second life in her creative process. 

The shift in Spaulding’s work after COVID-19 was significant. With limited space in her apartment for large-scale projects, she turned to painting and began selling her works online. This period of introspection and adaptation was a welcome change of pace, but ultimately rekindled her passion for hands-on, three-dimensional work. 

For her residency at Pine Meadow Ranch, Spaulding is focused on 10 Knots, an on-going project of hers where she will be creating a leviathan-scale tapestry inspired by the patterning and coloration of fossilized whale bones. This project began with her beach outings. When Spaulding noticed fossilized whale bones along her local shores, she began to document them through rubbings and ecological notes. The pink, blue and purple hues of these crystalline whale remnants captivated her imagination, and ultimately piqued Spaulding’s interest in the contemporary whale conservation efforts in her local waters. 

Additionally, these excursions also led to the discovery of washed-up lobster trap marine ropes. Recognizing their environmental impact, Spaulding began collecting these ropes, transforming them into intricate basket weavings. This series was born from the intersection of necessity and creativity. It highlights Spaulding’s artistic signature of intertwining the past lives of objects in works of art to question the relationship between sustainability, the environment, and human involvement in sensitive ecosystems. 

The residency theme of transitions and migrations resonates deeply with Eliot’s work, particularly through the lens of contemporary whale conservation. Her aim is to raise awareness about the impact of our consumption habits on endangered species and inspire collective action towards environmental stewardship. During her residency, she looks forward to connecting with local fiber artists and learning from their practices.

Mark your calendars for Spaulding’s Denim Care and Repair Workshop July 24, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. In alignment with Spaulding’s sustainable ethos, for this workshop bring along a pair of jeans or any denim/heavy cotton article from your closet that needs mending, or craft a decorative patch to enhance a garment for a later date. 

You can also hear from Spaulding alongside Pato Hebert and Gail Langellotto at the Open Studio on July 25th, from 4– 6 p.m.

Published On: June 26th, 2024 / Categories: Pine Meadow Ranch, Pine Meadow Ranch Programs /