Carolyn Elaine is a mosaic artist known for her culturally relevant mosaic murals and public art installations.
For 20 years, she has collaborated with community groups, schools, talented artists and construction professionals to beautify and enliven indoor and outdoor public spaces through her self-taught yet highly-skilled mosaic work.
In 1997 Elaine was introduced to mosaics by visual artist and muralist Mirtes Zwierzynski who was leading a community-based participatory mosaic project at her daughters’ preschool. Zwierzynski recognized Elaine’s talent and brought her into Chicago Public Art Group in 1998. At the time CPAG was fostering the revival of this ancient art form as a community medium, providing ample opportunity for Elaine to work with and learn alongside artists leading residents in the creation of public art.
As a self-taught artist, she has developed a stylized aesthetic in mosaic application and is currently the only African American female artist in the Chicagoland area who is actively working solely in this medium.
Elaine’s skills and passion for mosaics were honed during her time with CPAG and in 2007, she established Studio Elaine as the creative space and brand for her public murals, community projects, national private commissions and fine art creation. It is her energy and dedication that is responsible for the ongoing reputation of excellence that has made her a sought-after creative leader in this field.
Elaine's work seeks ultimately to empower and inspire. Just as the materials guide the process, her philosophy is that those who will ultimately experience it do as well. Her work and processes are especially conscious of the culture, context, and relevancy to the spaces she transforms.
Commissions at the Brookfield Zoo reflect its history and majesty and personalities of animals who inhabit the park, Burnside School’s rich civil rights history came to life through those who lived it and its alumni, the residents of Oak Park see their viaducts and public spaces energized with images they helped develop.
As a product of the Chicago Public School System, Elaine understands the importance of integrating art into the curriculum, especially in communities where children may not otherwise be exposed to it. She has been a roster artist with the Illinois Arts Council, a core artist with Chicago Public Art Group and a resident artist with Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. In 2010, Elaine founded Restoring the P.I.E.C.E.S. (People Inspired Encouraging Community Empowerment and Strength) at her alma mater Fenger High School. She brought students together with parents, staff, administrators, alumni and community to assist in a high quality artistic experience supported by the community.
Carolyn Elaine has conducted residencies and facilitated collaborative public art projects with organizations such as the Illinois Arts Council, Archi-Treasures, Urban Gateways, Art Resources in Teaching, After School Matters and Gallery 37. Elaine has received several Neighborhood Arts Grants from the Department of Cultural Affairs, and her extensive body of work at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center was made possible through private funding as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Art in Public Places grant. Elaine was awarded a commission under the City of Chicago 1% Program for the Arts for the 7th District Police Station located in the Englewood community. She is currently working on commissions for the historic Rosenwald Apartment development and a stained-glass mosaic window installation for Covenant United Church of Christ in South Holland, IL.
In her role as a consultant, Elaine provides high-level management strategies, material and design selection techniques, interior design, art studio and classroom facility design, creative workspace planning and art place-making development for projects, institutions, organizations, developers, artists and designers in the public and private sectors.
Carolyn Elaine has received recognition and awards from myriad individuals, organizations and media. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio, Chicagoing with Bill Campbell and Ebony Magazine. She has served as guest curator for various group shows and her studio work has been featured for several years in the Black Creativity exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Elaine holds a Bachelor in Arts degree in Communications from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois and a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from the International Academy of Design, in Chicago, Illinois.