ArtPrize: Artist uses fire and faith to fuel her artwork

ArtPrize artist uses faith to inspire her

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - E'lla Webber is a Grand Rapids native and drove a school bus for more than 18 years before she went part-time.

"I just wanted to get more into my art," Webber explained.

Webber's art comes after her six children, two part-time jobs and commitment to her church, but she still finds time. Webber describes her faith as the foundation of her life, and the inspiration behind her ArtPrize Nine entry "Everlasting Fire."

"The Lord gave me a crazy fire dream," said Webber. "It was like, fireballs hitting my window, It woke me up for sure. I wanted answers."

With all these questions swirling in Webber's mind, she went back to what she knows best.

"My mom always told me to pray, so that's what I did," said Webber.l

In the midst of her prayers she started breaking down her dream.

"I grabbed my cell phone and Googled 'painting with fire'," said Webber. "That's when I found they're called soot artists."

Webber rushed to the nearest Michael's craft store as fast as she could the next day to get a canvas and try the new medium for herself.

"The thinner the wick the more defined black , anything with gray is a tiki torch," said Webber. "On top of that if you see any hair on the piece -- I'll take a Q-tip,"

The canvas board must be hung about her head the entire time with Webber looking up with the fire rising at all times.

Leaning on her faith, Webber often leans on scripture for encouragement. This is when she started looking up verses in the bible that had to do with fire.

"I found out that God wrote the Ten Commandments using the same ancient based technique," said Webber. "When he wrote the Ten Commandments out, he wrote the same soot on stone tablets, until Moses destroyed it and he had to write it again with his finger."

Her art has come full circle spiritually and the dream that started it all is starting to make sense.

"This all came with a spiritual connection," said Webber. "Then the fact that I'm standing here talking to millions of people. It's just beautiful."

E'lla Webber also sculpts and does portraits in addition to fire painting. You can see her pieces displayed in Devos Place until the conclusion of ArtPrize Nine.

For more information and photos of Webber's work, visit the ArtPrize website.

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