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Art & Inspiration

A collaboration between Diane Elliott and her daughter, Souther, "Art and Inspiration" follows Souther's journey through the creative process, reflected upon as she gradually loses her eyesight to Macular Degeneration. As an artist, Souther, who goes by a single name, has juxtaposed a memoir of her life with a lavishly illustrated, art book. (Illustrations and photography by "Griffiti.") The book flickers with snippets of stories that are as compelling as her jewelry. Proceeds from the book are dedicated to research for treatment of macular degeneration.

The appeal reaches beyond the universe of those who admire sophisticated, wearable art. As the jewelry pieces surrender the stories of their inspiration, they illuminate her story. She offers fragmented insights of herself as a child, growing up amid the shifting mood swings of her mother, a talented, published poet stymied by bipolar disorder, a mother who would retreat into the depths of depression, lying on the couch chain smoking cigarettes for days.

A necklace titled Dustmote, glimmers like specks of dust in the light, which she finds an apt description for growing up with a bipolar parent. The benign neglect of her childhood spawned a spirited sense of independence as she grew up in Bozeman, Montana, learning to hunt and butcher game from her father and to tend the garden and family farm animals from her mother.

The faceted garnet beads crocheted into a necklace remind her of eating brilliant pomegranate seeds at Christmas and of the death of her younger sister. She contrasts the graceful antique glass drops and olive green pearls of another necklace to her own rebellious nature. Another necklace was inspired by thoughts of what she has learned in parenting her own son.

At 16, Souther left home and hitchhiked across the country. Years later, she audaciously chose a career as an architect, in part because no one thought she could do it. The crunch of project deadlines reminded her of the careening rollercoaster ride of living with her mother’s mood swings.

This book is about more than Souther's art and inspiration, and it is more than a memoir. The subtext involves “threading the needle blind,” plunging ahead as she slowly loses her vision to age-related macular degeneration. Diagnosed in 2001, Souther remains driven by her artistic vision, even as her eyesight fails.

When a woman walks into a room wearing one of her necklaces, the jewelry makes its own statement. The interplay of intricate patterns and lush colors conjure distinct moods. The book’s page-length stories do the same. Taken together, they offer insight into an artist’s life.

If you are interested in additional information about “Art & Inspiration,” please visit the "Souther Group Publishing" Facebook site in quick links.