Eleanor LaBranche – A Young New Hampshire Talent

“Mother I am Made Of” by Eleanor LaBranche.
“Mother I am Made Of” by Eleanor LaBranche.

By Kimberly J.B. Smith
Contributing Writer

When I was interviewing for my first job as an art teacher, an administrator from a city in New Hampshire asked me, “Are you an artist or an art teacher?” Really? The fact is that art teachers can best explain the passion of creating by being practicing artists themselves. And so it is that the New Hampshire Institute of Art is presenting Practice What You Teach – A Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Art by New Hampshire Art Educators. I encourage you to see this show! The show runs until April 10 and you will be delighted by the talented and diverse artists who share their expertise with New Hampshire students.
One of the New Hampshire art educators you will see at the show is Elly LaBranche. I was drawn to her work because of her use of mixed media in subtle and sophisticated ways. Featured here is a work by LaBranche that incorporates handmade paper with acrylic paint.
A recent graduate of N.H.I.A. with a BFA in 2012, LaBranche is presently teaching at the Newmarket Elementary School. There, she teaches grades 1 – 5. Her art class (or group studio) is a sanctuary for her students who are able to experience the purity of creating original works of art and the beauty of expressing their individually.
LaBranche makes a firm commitment to spending time in her own studio every week. Her process involves drawing, painting, layering and constructing. Her mixed media works include fabric and handmade paper in conjunction with acrylic paint and drawing. With all these materials at hand, LaBranche explores themes abstractly – making visual the concepts that are difficult to put into words. Her most recent body of work is titled The Wild Divine. In this, she explores life and death in connection with energy and the soul. Visually, you will see growth rising and featured by light juxtaposed by bones and earth featured by darkness.
As all artists will tell you, LaBranche also has a list of artists who serve as her inspiration. They are the much loved Georgia O’Keeffe, the introspective photography of Francesca Woodman and the intellectually challenging contemporary abstractions of Kenichi Hoshine. The deeply poignant poems and writings of Anne Sexton have also inspired a visual dialogue in LaBranche’s art.
And so I encourage you to visit N.H.I.A. at 148 Concord Street in Manchester and take in this show of New Hampshire artist / educators. For more on Elly LaBranche’s art, check out her website labrancheart.com . It will give you an indication of her artistic trajectory. I think you will agree that her future is bright!

Kimberly J.B. Smith is an artist and art educator. You can followe her on Facebook at Kimberly J B Smith Art. She welcomes your emails at artgirl@weirs.com.

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