Elissa Brown

The Freckled Army


Art is often rooted in storytelling. Mixed media artist Elissa Brown frequently recalls the trope of being a child at their grandmother’s feet and being enthralled by the spinning of folk stories and fairy tales. It was these adventures in imagination with her own grandmother that sparked Elissa’s interest in narrative and eventually her own pursuit of expressive storytelling. Constructing pop-up books at an early age led to more intricate dioramas as a student and even theatrical set design in college. In 2009, Elissa finished her formal education with an MFA in Mixed Media at Syracuse University, where she nurtured her first love of illustration and planted seeds for what would become her mixed media collection, The Freckled Army.


Avid reading and an affinity for Americana have led Elissa to create what initially feel like familiar landscapes, but upon closer inspection, also entertain fanciful details that will surprise and have you searching for more. Her pieces work to sublimate the narrative of play, allowing for easy immersion into stories that are only fully formed by the experience each viewer brings to the work. The active vignettes illustrated in Elissa’s pieces beg their viewers to participate in unravelling the scene they have stumbled upon while delighting in their fantastic absurdity.


If she asks a lot from her viewers, Elissa gives just as much effort in the labor-intensive process of creating these wood cuts. Her work is layered birch that has been drawn, cut, and painted with the line work being pyrographic, meaning the lines are burned into the wood. The burned drawings lend to the appeal of the work’s graphic nature, while giving the wood itself a vintage touch with the aged patina of the charred edges. The drawing and cutting out of characters and objects, followed by their stacking, and layering into new environments, creates depth and adds to the fantastic element of surprise found in the details of the artwork.


Elissa and her “freckled” works currently travel the country gaining recognition and collectors from all four corners. She hopes to continue her research of joy and play knowing our collective experiences are what help bring knowledge and understanding to each other’s stories.