Ellamarie Woolley

Arts & Crafts | 1913-1976

The San Diego-based artists Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley were introduced to enameling in 1947 through a demonstration given by ceramist Richard Petterson at Scripps College in Claremont, California. Jackson Woolley was in his second year of studies at the Claremont Graduate School and this single workshop changed the course of the young couple’s life.

Ellamarie Packard was born in San Diego in 1913. After studying at San Diego State College and the Art Center School in Los Angeles, she taught at the Francis W. Parker School. While there she met and married fellow artist Jackson Woolley in 1940.

After serving in the army during World War II, Jackson and Ellamarie moved to Claremont to pursue studies in art at the Claremont Graduate School. During their time in Claremont (1946-1947), the Woolleys became a central part of the Pomona Valley art community.

The Woolleys’ earliest enamels, made between 1947 and 1953, were for the most part functional, intended for use or display in homes and offices. Among their favorite forms were plates, ashtrays, and boxes. While occasionally each artist worked separately, most of this early work was produced through a close collaborative partnership between husband and wife. They signed and numbered these pieces sequentially based on the order in which they were produced. Like the work of the Cubist painters who inspired them, the Woolleys’ compositions included overlapping images of faces and figures, seen from varying points of view, suggesting multiple vantage points and perspectives.

Starting around 1953, they each began to produce works on their own, signing them independently. In the late 1950s and 1960s, Ellamarie Woolley’s work became increasingly abstract. Influenced by Pop and Op art trends popular in the late 1960s, Ellamarie Woolley created a series of two-dimensional enamel panels which through the placement of color and shape appear to move in and out of space.