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In meticulously detailed drawings, I create layered, ambiguous narratives. Through my fascination with transformation, artifice, and disguise—often themes or vignettes plucked from folk tales and stories—I build unsettling scenes that gain energy from unresolved endings. In uncanny depictions of humans and animals, absurd possibilities lurk behind everyday moments. People and animals wear masks, discover supernatural powers, and interact in ways that may delight viewers or upend expectations. Carbon pencil and charcoal allow me to create work that is clearly hand-drawn, but realistic enough to be disorienting. My art expresses my own unanswered questions about identity, memory, and the stories that profoundly affect our lives.

Ellen CornettAbout Ellen Cornett

I am from Kensington, MD, and have a BA in Studio Art from University of Maryland in College Park.

In 2000, after more than 25 years as a graphic designer, I returned to fine art. Inspired by the work of Wolf Kahn and Paula Rego, I began telling stories in pastel, charcoal and carbon pencil, and had my first solo show in 2008. I have exhibited extensively in local and national shows. In addition, I teach drawing and painting at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop.

In 2019, I was invited to participate in an interactive exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum, “Rirkrit Tiravanija: (who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green)” where, along with 14 other artists, I created charcoal murals on the museum walls.

I maintain a studio in Cheverly, MD.

All artwork is available for sale, and a portion of the proceeds benefits programming at Hill Center. Click here to purchase art.

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