Artwork

 

(sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things", Sound of Music)
Bluebirds on boxes and frolicking foxes, kingfishers fishing and bicycle wishing, barn owls that fly with the moon on their wings, these are a few of my favorite things. -Emily Nell Yellow Bird

As her untrained ancestors of the past, weaving watercolor and paper-cutting, this contemporary folk artist finds joy as she incorporates her PA German heritage while painting the many charms of nature.

Chust Fer Fancy

Of all the peoples who immigrated to America, perhaps few are better known for their distinctive arts than the Germans who settled in Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. In August 1733 the Elizabeth sailed into Philadelphia and unloaded a band of German immigrants onto the rich soil they were yearning to farm.The settlers were devout, simple, honest folk, prepared for hardship and used to hard work. The potter tried his hand and produced utilitarian objects of beauty while the cabinet maker did his best to fill his order for a dower chest. The smith turned out graceful hardware for the new home and the Fraktur artist used garish colors and naïve drawings to record the birth of a child, celebrate a marriage & more.

"Chust fer fancy" is a PA Dutch phrase that translates to "Just for Fancy". Historically, the Pennsylvania German Lutherans & Quakers loved to decorate in detail everything from furniture to gravestones and plates to butter molds. They are referred to as the "Fancy Dutch" while the Amish & Mennonites, also PA Dutch, are referred to as the "Plain Dutch".

How Are My Paintings Unique?

Iris in Watercolor? I enjoy painting them- but they lack energy. They lack the "IT factor". They're not me- not anymore. A few years ago, these were the thoughts playing through my mind which caused me to ask myself, (drum-roll please)…How are my paintings unique? I was speechless. Having no answer made me feel uncertain and insecure about my skills and direction as an artist. This moment set into action, a chain of events, some conscious decisions and others that were totally out of my control. As in science class, when one mixes oxygen with phosphorus, an explosion occurs. I didn't blow up, but it created a new vision & clear path with a solid foundation. To read more, click on my Artist Statement.

Her paper cutting is most impressive!  You can certainly see her heritage through this paper-cutting tradition.  The panelists enjoyed seeing the innovation in her work, and she defined the evolution in her work very well.  They are lovely pieces… - MAC Innovation Award, Semi-Finalist, Panel Comments

I do not know what to say - I am SPEECHLESS at the sheer beauty of this exhibit. I watched your excellent interview and was struck by how comfortable you are in your own skin. I think this has been a hard-won battle and I am JOYOUS to see you as YOU!  What a spectacular tribute to the gifts God has given to you, Emily!   – Dr. Anita Voelker, Professor of Education, Messiah College, Grantham PA

Resources:
Arts of the Pennsylvania Germans, by Swank, Forman, Sommer, Schwind, Weiser, Fennimore & Swan, published by W.W. Norton & Co., 1983
Fraktur: Folk Art & Family, by Corinne and Russell Earnest, published by Schiffer, 1999
Arts of the Pennsylvania Germans,by Swank, Forman, Sommer, Schwind, Weiser, Fennimore & Swan, published by W.W. Norton & Co., 1983
Fraktur: Folk Art & Family, by Corinne and Russell Earnest, published by Schiffer, 19
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