Dawn M. Ellis

Creative and Multidisciplinary Artist

To tackle intractable problems, we step back, shift lenses, and pull upon the known and unknown to engage. As a creative, Dawn brings this kind of perspective shifting, testing, and turning to all manner of creative work, both in the arts and in life.

Visual artist

Black lung scuplture hangs next to pink lung painting
Dark lungs, light lungs

Dawn’s artful work spans genres and disciplines.  Visual works play with a range of materials, from natural, traditional, to found. With a long history in clay and photographic image, Dawn now also explores Strappo, a dry transfer monoprinting process and mixed media work.   Nature and biology, and their interrelated symmetries, textures, and forms inspire her.

Trained in sociology, poetry, and story, she weaves illuminating glimpses of the light and dark aspects of humanity into her work. Click <here> for more of Dawn’s visual work.

Performing artist

Dawn midsentence performing song and poetry
Dawn Performs at #CCX2019. Photo tweet @RILatinoArts.

On the page, stage, in communities and nature, Dawn uses word, text, sound, song, and movement to generate poetic moments that distill essence from the human experience. Whether capturing an unseen grace, seeing nature through new eyes, mixing hope and fear, or finding clarity in complex issues, her pieces evoke personal and more universal journeys.

As a performance artist, Dawn associates with the New England Performers Artist Retreat in Brattleboro, Vermont and Northhampton, Massachusettes. Stage work includes work with Lost Nation Theater, Ice Fire Productions of Waitsfield, VT, Green Candle Theatre Company, Tony award winning Bill T. Jones and the Arnie Zane Company and Green Candle Theatre Company. Dawn performs choral and symphonic works with the Green Mountain Mahler Festival Chorus, Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and the Burlington Choral Society.  She has also worked with the National Symphony Orchestra and Delaware Symphony Orchestra.  She has sung and toured the U.S. and Asia with various groups, including Whim ‘n’ Rhythm and Out of the Blue which she cofounded. Click <here> for more on Dawn performing.

Word Artist

As a poet, Dawn crafts essence of word for the page. Using sound, texture, rhythm, and movement, Dawn can bring those words to life. She both reads poetry and transforms poems into performances.   This past June 2019, Dawn performed and shared her poetry as part of integrating the arts into action as she led a group of 300 people from around New England hosted by New England Foundation for the Arts. Dawn holds a Bachelors of Arts in English from Yale University, with a focus on theatre and poetry. Click <here> for more Dawn word work.

Roots propel shoots,
To spark hope buds
Of living and learning
Wrapped up in mud.

Stretch to the sun,
Gift riches from soil,
Riding shoulders and boulders
Of olders who toiled.

You shift shape.

~ (c) 2018 Dawn M. Ellis, excerpt from “Dandelion Rising”

Teaching Artist

A master teaching artist, who has worked in institutes and seminars across the U.S., Dawn engages youth and adults in creative journeys. Pulling upon her creative tool chest, she collaborates with hosts to help them learn, build community, find inventive solutions, and amplify people’s strengths.

Groups telling stories to each other to connect.
Dawn’s creative prompts lead to heightened listening. Photo by Jeffery Filiault/ NEFA.

Dawn’s listening, advocacy, and helping work carry her across community divides. She brings a frank, fresh voice to hidden, absent, and challenging topics.   With one foot in rural and another in urban America,  Dawn intently observes people, nature, and life across the U.S.. Her art gives dignity to the worlds we share and our places of respite. As an artist-researcher, Dawn infuses creativity into analysis, education, and systemic thinking to help communities across the country improve their capacity to help people. Click <here> to learn more about Dawn’s teaching and social change work.


Leading Inclusion Thinking through Creativity

As part of year long coaching of the New England Foundation for the Arts, Dawn brought her creativity into the service of leading a group of 300 people through explorations of equity, access, diversity, and inclusion. Burlington, Vermont’s Channel 17 covered Dawn’s reflections on the work in this news piece.

Dawn Ellis discusses inclusion work with New England gathering using poetry reading/ writing, vocal work, prompts, small group work.

Dandelion Rising

Dawn Ellis and visual artist Gordon Sasaki of Hawai’i and New York City are deep into collaboration on a visual book of poetry.  This book weaves together the story of a young girl of color and a dandelion coming of age. Concurrently, they emerge as radiant assets in spite of society’s disregard of their worth.  Themes of sustainability and social justice intertwine.

 The work includes poetry and visuals by Dawn and illustrations by Gordon.  To support this independent artistic work through donations, distribution, resources, or hosting author talks or interactive workshops, donate at the Go Fund Me site <here> or contact Dawn by e-mail <here>.

Frog Hollow Awards Dawn Ellis Grant

Dawn Ellis holds journal and stands by former Executive Director of Frog Hollow, Rob Hunter in the downtown Burlington, Vermont gallery.
Dawn Ellis and Rob Hunter celebrate Frog Hollow awarding a 2018 grant to Dawn.

Spring 2018, the board of directors of Frog Hollow, the U.S.’s first craft center, awarded Dawn Ellis an Equipment Grant that will help her develop new creative works in clay.  With this support, Dawn will enhance her Life Vessels series with pieces integrating both handbuilding and wheel throwing.