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About the Artist


Artist and educator, Carolyn Elaine has emerged as a leader in the Chicago art community, known for her culturally relevant mosaic murals and public art installations. As a self-taught artist, she has developed a stylized aesthetic in mosaic application. She is currently the only African American female artist in the Chicago-land area who is actively working solely in this medium.

She entered the world of mosaics as a Teaching Artist, committed to enriching school environments in urban communities, using art as a vehicle for representation which allows students to see themselves in ways they haven’t seen, and think in ways they haven't thought.

Over the years, she has helped thousands of youth and adults expand their understanding of civic engagement by shifting the purpose of art to beyond its typical intent. Her goal is always to acknowledge and accurately represent the contributions of Black Americans in a way that celebrates Black Excellence. This goal inspired her to conduct residencies and facilitate participatory art and design projects with the Illinois Arts Council, Chicago Public Art Group, and Architreasures before launching Studio Elaine; where she has produced more than 60 mosaic installations for over 50 Chicago and suburban schools. Notably, she was the first artist to conduct hands-on mosaic workshops with youth in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.

In 2005 Elaine spearheaded Off The Wall, a diverse youth summer employment mural program in Oak Park IL, focused on training high school age artists in every level of the creative process of mosaic making, from inception to installation. She still serves as Master Artist of Off The Wall program and today several of her former participants, both college students and college graduates continue to hone their skills as they benefit from her mentorship beyond the program through paid apprenticeship opportunities with Studio Elaine. Her intent is to advance the art form of mosaic making by continuing to cultivate the next generation of mosaic artists.

In addition to her work with communities and educational institutions her commissioned installations can be seen at Brookfield Zoo, a leading educational institution and top tourism attraction with over 2 million in attendance annually; The Boston MA, headquarters building of The Community Builders, a leading nonprofit real estate developer; The Historic Rosenwald Courts Apartments, once the home of Nat “King” Cole, Gwendolyn Brooks and other legends in Chicago’s African American community and Englewood’s 7th District Police Station in Chicago. Her studio work has been acquired by numerous Black Art collectors and featured for several years in the Black Creativity exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.

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.


Photo by John McBean

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