Angela Ellsworth

Angela Ellsworth


b. 1964      STUDIO IN PHOENIX, AZ

West Region of USA
Angela Ellsworth
A fifth-generation Mormon, Angela Ellsworth was raised in Salt Lake City, UT. Her great-great-grandfather was Lorenzo Snow, the fifth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). He was convicted of polygamy in 1885 and incarcerated. As a self-identified feminist and queer artist, Ellsworth addresses in her work family dynamics that do not conform to the “norm,” whether located within the early history of Mormonism or in contemporary same-sex relationships.
In her Seer Bonnets, the artist constructs surrogate portraits of historical “sister wives” (nine for her famous ancestor, 35 for Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church). Each bonnet is embellished with thousands of corsage pins, their pearls creating individualized patterns on the outside, while their points provide a prickly interior. In one conjoined pair of bonnets, Ellsworth suggests the unique familial dynamics that might develop among women in such differently configured families.

I’m interested in non-heteronormative ideas of family and what happens when part of the family is deemed illegal: the other wives, the children of those wives. This project really captured when the Fundamentalist LDS ranch was raided [in 2008] in Texas and the 400 kids were taken away. It struck me that the federal government can come in and disrupt family like that.

— Angela Ellsworth