ELY KISH


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BIOGRAPHY

PERSONAL
 

Born March 17, 1924 in Newark, New Jersey under the name of Kiss, changed to Kish in 1973. Daughter of Eugene Kiss (painter, decorator & actor) and Teresa Bittman (mother of seven children)
 
EDUCATION
 

Essex county vocational school in productive art 1942. Institute of fine art 4 years. Fine art in California with Ejnar Hansen and Julian Ritter. San Miguel de Allende 1949 to 1951.
 
AGENT
 

Huguette Vrancken R.R.1 Lavigne Rd. 1863 Hammond, Ontario KOA 2A0 Canada.
 
PUBLICATIONS
 
TELEVISION:
MAGAZINES:
EXHIBITS:
BIOGRAPHICAL/CRITICAL SOURCES: NEWSPAPERS:
WORK IN PROGRESS: "THE BOOK OF LIFE" Ceutury Random House. London. England. 15 Paintings by Ely Kish. To be published in 1993.
"DINOSAUR POSTERBOOK" & "POSTCARDBOOK" Publisher Benedikt Taschen Verlag GMBH. Germany. Illustrator Ely Kish.
"THE TINY PERFECT DINOSAUR BOOK, BONES & EGG AND POSTER" Tyrannosaurus. Somerville House Publishing, Toronto, Canada. For U.S. Andrew & McMeel Distributer. Illustrator Ely Kish.
 
MAJOR PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
RADIO:
AWARDS: "AN ODYSSEY IN TIME" The dinosaurs of North America. Finalist for 1989 GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD. for non fiction.
"ACTRA AWARD T.V. PROGRAM OF THE YEAR" with C.T.V. C.J.O.H. "CANADA IN VIEW, A PORTRAIT OF ELY KISH." Producer Sandy Armstrong. March 1990.
In 1993 ELY KISH was appointed to "MEMBER OF THE ORDER OF CANADA"

One of seven children, Kish grew up in a poor section of Newark, New Jersey. She told Suzanne Kingsmill in an article for Canadian Geographic: "They would shoot tommy guns across the street at each other. We'd lie on our bellies ... watching the shooting and knife fights. It was quite a neighborhood." In school, she refused to take traditional "girls'" courses like home economics and was the only girl in carpentry class. Encouraged by a school principal who recognized her artistic talents, Kish attended a technical high school where she took nothing but industrial arts courses, and also took four years of art courses during the evening.
 
After graduation, Kish traveled throughout the United States and Mexico for fifteen years, earning her living at a variety of jobs, including painting billboards, designing greeting cards, and various construction-related jobs, all the while continuing her work as a painter of landscapes, portraits, and nature. She began using a masculine name, Ely, a shortened version of Eleanor, feeling that this would alleviate problems she encountered in the male-dominated world of fine arts. In the late 1950's she moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen.
 
When Dr. Russell commissioned Kish to illustrate A Vanished World. she was able to quit her job at a display company and devote all her time to her painting. She told Kingsmill, "That was the first time I had a chance to paint for my living." Her paintings for A Vanished World established her as a top-ranking paleoartist, and led to her being commissioned to paint murals depicting prehistoric life at several other museums around the world.
 
After many years as a realist painter creating works of art directly from nature, Kish has developed new artistic approaches to create her prehistoric subjects. "For a woman who has painted from living models most of her life, the limits imposed by her dinosaur art highlight her adaptability, patience, and professionalism," notes Kingsmill. In order to make her images as scientifically accurate and realistic as possible, she first sculpts the skeletons of her subjects in papier mache, then forms their muscles and flesh from a variety of materials, consulting with science experts and studying actual fossils throughout this stage to ensure accuracy. Kish then uses the models as a guide for both her preliminary pencil drawings and her oil paintings; they enable her to see exactly how contours should be shaded and how light should reflect off each individual creature.
 
Kish told Kingsmill that her imagination allows her to envision how creatures she's never actually seen behave during various activities: "I'm the dinosaur. I dream of what I'd do, how I would eat, how I would feed my baby and how I would protect myself. Once you get acquainted with the animal, then you can imagine it turning, moving."
 
WORKS CITED:
 
Kingsmill, Suzanne, "Recreating the World of Dinosaurs," Canadian Geographic. April/May 1990, pp 17-27.
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:
Canadian Geographic. October/November, 1990 Museum & Arts Washington. July/August, 1990 Washington Post. April 12, 1990, p. Cl.
 
© 2001 Ely Kish
 
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