“Perhaps it came from watching too many episodes of ‘Mission Impossible’ during childhood. Or from following my father’s advice about always setting goals higher than my present reach. But I’ve become in my professional life a person who has typically stretched beyond my own comfort level. Sometimes those stretches have paid off in cash, and sometimes they’ve transformed even more profitably into charitable donations to a cause or a mission near to my heart. The efforts I’ve made to set up and maintain this website are in reality a bit of payback to my wide, supportive circle of friends, colleagues, and fellow artists in the polymer clay community. When I’ve needed their emotional support, I’ve never had to ask for it; when I’ve needed their prayers, circles of white light surrounded me. I’ve become a person who believes that dedication to one’s art, commitment to the natural zone of creativity inside all of us, can be quite literally a life saving, not simply a life affirming, activity.
If, through Polymer Art Archive, I can return to my community some of the benefits you have freely given to me, I’ll feel a highly satisfied woman.”
For more than a decade, Elise Winters has been on a personal quest to elevate discussion about and enhance the image of polymer clay in the art and fine-craft community. In 1997 she organized the Masters’ Invitational Polymer Clay Exhibit (MIPCES) with the express goal of introducing the medium to serious craft collectors and curators in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Following MIPCES, in the spring of 1998 and 1999, she organized a studio exhibition called “8×10 in Polymer Clay.” Ten accomplished polymer artists from across the country were invited to send 8 pieces of work for exhibition. Elise invited curators, gallery owners and select collectors for private tours of the exhibition.
Late in 1999 she was invited to do an educational slide presentation at the American Craft Museum to educate their curatorial staff about the artistic merit of work being done in the medium. In 2001 she curated a historical exhibition in conjunction with the annual conference of the National Polymer Clay Guild. It was a first step toward organizing and preserving the mounting data about polymer’s artistic history. Since the very beginning, Elise has been collecting and preserving slides and other memorabilia that she thought might one day be valued by art historians. She knew that eventually polymer would warrant attention from serious art academics and hoped her collection of artifacts and data might become source material for an archive. Thus was born the concept for this website.
“As the concept for this site grew, I realized that my goal to archive materials about polymer history was deeply rooted in the desire to have my chosen artistic medium both celebrated and respected by the fine-craft community. A secondary goal was to design the architecture of this web-based archive as a mirror image of how our community of artists works with the clay: balancing colors, integrating distinctive threads, inserting critical commentary, layering and texturing to ensure depth. I’d like to have this website glow with the same shimmers that animate my jewelry.”