For the second interview in our ABCD (Artists, Builders, Creators, Dreamers) series we are fortunate to speak with Elyse Jacobs, MA. Elyse is an artist, educator and writer who is originally from Brooklyn, NY but now lives in San Francisco, CA. You can find her writings at Tools of Peace as well as at the Excelligence Learning Corporation. She is well known for her puppetry but uses many forms of art and creativity to teach children. She is currently writing a book on preventing violence by and against children and youth. We are excited to have her here to share her thoughts on art, creativity and forts!
Why do you do what you do?
I am passionate about art, giving children a voice, and contributing to a more peaceful world. 30 years ago, as a puppeteer who had also worked in the schools through CA Arts Council and other grants, I was asked to develop a program of conflict resolution with puppets for preschoolers. This ongoing artist residency at Pacific Primary in San Francisco allows me to combine puppetry, the expressive arts, communication and peace-making into a program that continues to thrive. In its expanded form, the program is called Expressive Arts.
One key to violence prevention is developing social and emotional intelligence in young children. It’s an antidote for social isolation. Using puppets to enact the developmental issues common to preschoolers and facilitating appropriate interactive solutions with the children has proven to be extremely effective.
What was the first thing you remember building/creating?
My first memory was of an oil painting at age 4. I attempted to paint a blue eye on a yellow chick and was astonished when the eye turned green. I can remember how it felt moving the blue paint in thicker and thicker circles to form the eye. Actually, I was quite annoyed for no matter how much paint I used, the eye did not turn back to blue.
My first myth was written at age 6. It told the story of the first Easter egg from a rabbit named Rainbow who laid her egg in a rain puddle coated in leaked automobile oil. I was a city kid from Brooklyn making up stories to better understand the world around me. Thankfully no one mocked me for not knowing rabbits didn’t lay eggs.
Who or what has influenced and inspired you most in your art/building/creating?
My mother, an artist who painted, was my first major influence. She instilled her love of art and nature in her children.
Observing the changing sky and using our imagination to discover animals and other shapes in cloud formations
Sitting on the floor of the Brooklyn museum drawing the exhibits.
Exploring the beauty of the Botanical Gardens in Prospect Park