Sue Ela was born in the United States in 1948. She had made Aliyah in 1970 and has resided in Jerusalem ever since. She completed her undergraduate studies at Boston University, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Fine Arts. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D in Psychology at the Hebrew University.
As an artist, Sue provides her own creative perspective on universal concerns such as interpersonal relationships, parenting, and femininity. Her conviction that people have the ability to change and grow in their relationship with themselves and with others is expressed in the flow and movement of her sculptures. Sue gives the observer an opportunity for a personal dialogue, to connect to their inner world as they encounter her work.
1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
I’ve always been interested in art and have made all kinds of art projects from a very young age. I took art courses and visited museums whenever it was possible. I especially liked Impressionism, and sculpture was the medium that attracted and inspired me. I was told that I had talent in making handicrafts, but the last thing I expected was to become an artist myself.
2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
After a 30-year career as a psychologist in the public sector in Israel, I signed up for my first sculpting course at the Israel Museum. For me, sculpture was a natural continuation of my work as a psychologist, giving me an opportunity to deal with subjects connected to my work in new ways. I examined different avenues of expressing the complicated emotional realm that I encountered in my work with children, couples, families, and individuals. I wanted to make abstract, flowing sculptures, and, having a passion for dance, I also wanted to sculpt dancers. After studying sculpture with Paul Taylor, I studied for seven years under the direction of the late Pesach Flit. What started as a hobby, slowly became a second career. I participated in various solo and group exhibitions in Israel and abroad.
I am always amazed and awed by the fact that a piece of clay or stone becomes alive and turns into something magical, surprising and significant. I love watching people connect to my sculptures, trying to figure out what they see in it and what they imagine I intended to express.
3) What do you need as an artist today?
I just hope that I continue to feel creative and to sculpt and that people around me enjoy what I create. I need children and adults who connect to my work and enjoy being a part of it. My dream is to get funding for the entire sculpture park that I designed.
4) What creative project are you working on now?
Based on my individual pieces of sculpture, I have designed a family sculpture park, which is experiential and interactive. It encourages direct contact between children, adults, and the sculptures. The sculptures themselves become abstract and magical, stimulating the imagination and encouraging familiar and treasured experiences like climbing, sliding and swinging. Two of these interactive sculptures were built and placed in Modi’in, Israel in May 2013.
My favorite sculpture for the park is a peace-dove sculpture, which depicts my strong belief that most people on both sides of a conflict want to live together in peace and harmony. One side of the sculpture portrays a peace dove and the other side shows a couple dancing, symbolizing the fact that it takes two individuals to live together harmoniously, just as it takes two nations to live together in peace. I have also designed a peace-dove slide on which children can slide and play together with the hope that when these children grow to be adults, they would live together in peace.
In addition, one of my sculptures of dancers is currently being cast in bronze and enlarged to two meters in height for a park in Be’er Sheva.
5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
I hope I will still have the ability to sculpt and to create in ten years, and I would like to see my whole sculpture park be realized.
6) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
It is very inspiring to me to be an Israeli artist. Sculpting has opened a totally new and exciting world for me. Something that started as a hobby has become a second career. It is especially exciting for me as a psychologist and as a grandmother to combine my love for children, art, sculpture, and creativity. Watching my grandchildren, who were all born and brought up in Israel, slide down together on my very own sculpture slide at the opening of the sculpture park in Modi’in was one of the most thrilling and fulfilling moments of my life.
7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF supporting Israeli culture in the past 75 years?
The truth of the matter is that I was exposed to the America Israel Cultural Foundation’s supporting Israeli culture only recently. I was amazed and impressed to find out the scope of the support given by AICF over the past 75 years to so many Israeli artists, many of whom have become renowned worldwide.