Written By Ellen Falltrick (NFS Supporter)

“What kind of painting do you do?”

That is equally the most daunting and exciting question I am frequently asked as an artist. How can I quickly and impactfully explain that my large paintings depicting nudity, death, pain, self-harm and sorrow are not some kind of odd kink, but pay homage to the people that survive such tragedies. 

How do I make easily digestible the complex, painful and inspiring stories that inspire my artwork? How could I possibly illuminate the emotional turmoil, perseverance and recovery necessary to make these paintings beautiful?

Because, they are. These horrible paintings are beautiful.

My hope is that by donating funds from the sale of the Coping Mechanisms paintings, I can help to provide peace and emotional release to those that need it most.

Ellen Falltrick

In truth, I cannot easily elaborate on the inspiration behind my work which is why I fear such a question. However, to the right audience – for the attentive listener – it is the most valuable question to reach my ears. Asking me to explain my painting may be difficult to answer, but it allows me to share my vision for creating art that empowers survivors of extreme adversity. 

Painting has always been more than a hobby for me; it is the way that I express the feelings that are not easily spoken. What started as an outlet for my own feelings, challenges and triumphs quickly became a method of sharing the stories of others that were brave enough to confide their adverse experiences in me. 

I was approached by women in abusive relationships with their partners or employers, men who had been raped, people who had felt trapped, lost or hurt in a myriad of ways. As honored as I felt to receive their grief, I also felt the need to release the weight of their stories through art. Incorporating their experiences into my paintings not only allowed me release but – more importantly – honored their strength, recovery and survival. Although I do not label my paintings with the names of the people that inspired them, they know who they are; they know the depths of their own strength, courage and perseverance and, should they ever forget, they need only look at one of my paintings. 

These many stories culminated in my latest series, Coping Mechanisms. Upon completion of this set of paintings, I felt extreme peace. In fact, the emotional release was so strong that I felt guilty for keeping the healing to myself. Therefore, I pledged to donate 40% of the proceeds of the Coping Mechanisms show debut to people with stories similar to those that inspired me. Not For Sale seemed like an obvious choice to receive these funds, considering they serve those that have experienced one of the most severe adversities: sex and labor trafficking. 

Not For Sale’s mission to rescue survivors of trafficking and prevent future exploitations aligns well with my passion for empowering those that have survived exploitations of all kinds. My hope is that by donating funds from the sale of the Coping Mechanisms paintings, I can help to provide peace and emotional release to those that need it most. 

Coping Mechanisms is on display in Chico, CA at Tin Roof Bakery through January 31st. However, a virtual viewing option will be available at through February 28th. Online purchases are encouraged through the site, at which point, the painting will be shipped to the buyer’s location and 40% of the purchase price will be donated to Not For Sale.

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