Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette

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All of my Eggs in One Basket, 2007, plastic eggs, wire.

The Washington D.C.-based artist Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette never planned to become a weaver. In 1991 she was studying to be a graphic designer at North Carolina State University College of Design and found herself walking past the weaving room regularly. Finally, after wondering what it was all about, she got up the courage to ask Professor Barbara Schulman to teach her how to weave and Schulman obliged. She gave her a piece of paper that showed her basic techniques and, Morisette laughs, "I stayed up all night working and the next day the professor showed up and was shocked at my determination. She had that look on her face: 'What did you do?!'"

That sleepless night Morisette knew she had fallen in love with weaving and shortly thereafter dropped her graphic design major. Her eventual thesis was created on a frame loom. Seven years ago she took her weaving to a different level, one beyond just textiles, by incorporating found objects. It began at the time she gave birth to her daughter, Clementine Rose, and someone brought Morisette a bucketful of McDonald's toys that were marked not appropriate for children under three. "I didn't understand why this person was giving these toys to me," she says. But as she looked at them day after day-a bright mix of colors sitting in a big crystal bucket-Morisette realized she wanted to do something with them and decided to weave them into a piece. The result weighed so much, she needed assistance getting it off the loom. "I didn't take into consideration how heavy the piece would be, and when I finished it weighed 40 pounds," she recalls. "I learned I needed to make things smaller."

With this lesson learned, Morisette began acquiring lighter objects from Ebay and working them into her new pieces. Once people heard about what she was doing, however, she no longer had to purchase items-people just started bringing things to her. She discovered an audience that was passionate about not just the final product, but also the material used in its creation. "What I love about using found objects is people appreciate it even more," Morisette says. "I'll make a piece with hair rollers and people will say 'My grandma used to wear those!'"

In doing this type of work, Morisette, who is now 36, has discovered that her art reaches many different people at many different levels. Because her studio is located in a community center in Greenbelt, Maryland, people who might not have seen her work often stumble across it. "They come for dance or music and they'll walk through and look at my work without any expectations," she says. "People approach my work the way they can. Some people will appreciate it as art or some kids will say, 'I could make that. That's just a bunch of shoelaces strung together.' But the most important thing," Morisette concludes, "is that people make a connection at some level."