Elizabeth Crawford is a photographer, sculptor, and children’s book illustrator and writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Wahpekute land. She received her BA from Colorado College, Colorado Springs, and her MFA from Pratt Institute, New York City.
A current project taps Elizabeth’s superpower for seeing animal-like gestures in plants, honing that human penchant to visually shift reality when something catches our eyes just right. Neighborhood walks are peppered with spotting and stashing leaves, seeds, stalks, pods, and flowers that suggest something not-plant. Back in the studio, she photographs what she saw; little is added or subtracted to preserve the freshness of discovery. Natural phenomenon is the sculptor here when a curling leaf becomes a seated dog, a pod cracked open with seeds dispersing is a strolling duck. Her plant-animal inventory swells to nearly a thousand neatly cataloged photographs, highlighting the unexpected in familiar cycles of life and sharing the rewards of looking closely.
Elizabeth has been capturing “plants-being-animals” since 2019, but making, collecting, and photographing objects has long been her focus. In a long love affair with clay, she has created and exhibited sculpture since 1989. Her ceramic murals and installations appear in schools and outdoor spaces in Minnesota and New York. In 2000, she began photographing her sculpture in environments as children’s book illustrations. In 2003, Elizabeth illustrated her first children’s book with Touchstone Center Publications, Cave: An Evocation of the Beginnings of Art, by Richard Lewis. Working with the educational publisher Tools of the Mind, she has illustrated over a dozen books in their iPad early readers series.
To complement and develop her children’s book work, Elizabeth has brought her newest artwork and book concepts to local community schools, experimenting alongside students to hone the best of her ideas. Her plant photography and animation fuels ongoing collaborations with Richard Lewis and the Touchstone Center for Children (see Darrow’s Poem). She has also helped elementary grade students illustrate and publish their ideas in student literary journals and has worked with kindergartners through adults as an art educator in Colorado, Minnesota, and New York.
In her attic studio, Elizabeth assembles illustration sets and photographs the plants she collects, occasionally interrupted and always supported by her human and non-human animal family.
Elizabeth is represented by Victoria Wells Arms of Wells Arms Literary LLC in association with HG Literary.