Elise Winters’ legacy

Elise Winters, 1947-2019, portrait by Barbara Bordnick

Polymer’s finest champion, Elise Winters died on New Years Day after a long struggle with cancer.

While we absorb the sadness of her passing, it may be comforting to read How Polymer Hit the Big Time, the story written by Monica Moses about Elise in American Craft Magazine’s October/November 2011 issue.

It begins, “In the 1990s, Elise Winters became convinced polymer artists weren’t getting the money or respect they deserved. “The whole field needed to be elevated,” she says. A natural strategist and organizer, Winters set out to make that happen.”

And she did make that happen.

The Racine Art Museum (RAM) was the first to put together a permanent collection of polymer art. Then RAM director Bruce Pepich helped pave the way for smaller chunks of Winters’ collection to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Newark Museum; the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Elise elevated our craft and artists around the world mourn her loss. Our community will forever be in her debt.

  • reply Lisa Clarke ,

    Oh, such sad news.

    • reply Katrina Sarlin ,

      Very sad news. My heart goes out to her family. There are fond memories of Elise, her energy and talent.

      • reply Sarah ,

        Oh, so sorry to read this. I am a long time admirer of her amazing work. So grateful for the contributions she made. May God grant her family comfort and peace.

        • reply Laurie Mika ,

          Very saddened by this news…..the legacy of her impeccable craft will long be admired ….as well as her success in elevating the art of polymer.

          • reply Barbara Briggs ,

            So sorry to hear of the passing of Elise Winters. Her work was unique and so beautiful.

            • reply Wendy Moore ,

              Such sad news Cynthia. Elise contributed so very much to our field. To our self identity I suspect. Sending love to you and all those who knew her personally. Thank you for this tribute and please thank Farm for her touching tribute.

              • reply Eli Collins-Brown ,

                I remember seeing her work in a couple of the first books I purchased when I got into PC. Her work was among a group of artists’ that continue to inspire me to new heights.

                • reply haydee hirsch ,

                  this is so very sad—I knew Elise from the NYC PC,
                  my condolences to her family, her work was just so very beautiful—-she was a inspiration to many people.

                  • reply Gina Tauro ,

                    Ms. Winters was and is an inspiration to so many, my 2 siblings & myself included. We all were in the Dumont High School photography program. She also taught me ceramics. Here I am today teaching art in a NYC High School. I can only hope to inspire my students the way she had.

                    • reply Cindy Lietz ,

                      I am so sorry Cynthia for the loss of your friend and trailblazer for our polymer clay community. My heart goes out to all her family and friends.

                      • reply Adrienne Tauro Greenberg ,

                        I am so sad to learn of the passing of Elise Winters. As an art teacher at Dumont Hugh School she had a profound impact on so many lives …especially mine, my sisters, and my brothers. Thank you Elise for opening our eyes to the world or photography and art. May you rest in Gods peace.

                        • reply Barbara McGuire ,

                          Thank you for this tribute Cynthia – I am grateful for the courage and perseverance that Elise embraced to be a leader in our movement. To me it represents not the elevation of a ‘material’ – but an acknowledgement of the energy behind the material – which really is the expression of soul. I am grateful that she saw us all as souls – each in our own path. Elise gave me eyes to see a world I never knew. Thank you dear one. – Barbara

                          • reply Henry E. Liebling ,

                            I remember her from Brighton High School (Rochester NY). She was a good person then and for her entire life.

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