Artist Tracy Ellyn opens solo exhibition/fundraiser

By Lee Stephens….

Temple Beth Am members (l-r) include the artist Tracy Ellyn, Susan Stiphany, Mindi Notrika and Ed Schwartz surrounding Tracy’s piece titled, Sim Shalom: Orange Plum Blossom, inspired by Cantor Lisa Segal of Temple Beth Am, whose exquisite voice seems to emanate from the artwork itself.

Tracy Ellyn, founder of Miami Art and Design, has spent a lot of time nurturing her art and design students’ awards and exhibitions, but on First Friday Gallery Night in November, it was her turn to exhibit her own works from her most recent series, “Judeo-Japanese: Arts and Letters.”

The series, inspired by Ellyn’s world travels and life experiences, contains layer upon layer of small handwriting, staining, texture and beading, which come together in a symphony of eclectic wisdom from the ancient Jewish prophets to the Zen masters to the arts and minds of brilliant modern philosophers.

Netzach Tiferet: Victory and Beauty of the Lotus, is one of the key pieces in her collection. With Hebrew, Japanese and English elements, it contains the image of the lotus flower, the ancient Japanese symbol of victory and dignity, as it grows from the mud yet is not defiled. Its beauty eventually becomes a throne, according to legend and history.

“For me, the lotus’ victory (netzach) and beauty (tiferet) serve both as a personal metaphor and a metaphor for the Jewish people, and indeed for all people,” Ellyn said.

Revealing insights and enlightening metaphors are her universal theme. The pieces are not meant to be religious in nature, and not specifically Japanese or Jewish per se. Rather, all fellow human beings would find each piece in the collection uplifting and life-affirming.

“Did you know that you must water the bamboo every day for four years before it breaks ground, but once it does it grows 60 feet in 90 days?” Ellyn said. “That’s why I use the bamboo as a metaphor for faith (emunah in Hebrew).” Indeed, if you look closely at the tiny details of Emunah: Sage Bamboo, Faith, you will find the word faith in Hebrew and Japanese, along with sumi-e style bamboo brush painting elements, and tiny, hand-written, encouraging words about the four-year journey of the bamboo.

“In the end, after four years of faith, the bamboo becomes the most beautiful, self-sustainable, and strong of all trees and plants,” the artist said. “In fact, in Asia, it is used as scaffolding for skyscrapers rather than steel. So, you can see the universal theme and the life-affirming metaphor of the piece.”

Other major pieces in the series include, Sim Shalom: Orange Plum Blossom, Echad: The Great White Light of One, and Chachma: Wisdom of the Plum Blossom.

The smaller sumi-e pieces in the collection continue the penchant for uplifting and inspiring. Each one brings the message of shalom to all people, within the context and beauty of Japanese simplicity and harmony, and features the classic “four gentlemen” of ancient sumi-e painting, as well as a variety of new age messages, such as “Balance of the Spirit,” “Peace and Harmony,” “Strong and Beautiful,” and “Never Give Up.”

The opening for “Judeo-Japanese: Arts and Letters” took place on First Friday Gallery Night in Coral Gables, Nov. 5, at The Angel’s Ring Gallery, 86 Miracle Mile.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Tracy Ellyn’s artwork went to her Zen Tov Project for Healing Through the Arts, which contributes a variety of efforts including art supplies for Haitian orphanages, scholarships for magnet art students who cannot afford their class art trips, and funds for special needs children as part of artist Ana Moreno’s Special Kids Fund, a division of Art Atelier.

For more information on Tracy Ellyn Fine Arts, a division of Miami Art and Design Inc., contact agent Lissette Abella by email at, or you may contact the artist directly online at or by email at

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