Ellen Kenston is synonymous with fish – freshwater, to be clear. Her work predominantly utilizes them as a symbol of herself, by and large, as subjects through which she can discover more about her undeniably Midwestern self. She is contradictory by nature. The way she works emulates the seiches common in Lake Michigan: a familiar push and pull that heralds the beginning of new work.
Her multidisciplinary work is often accompanied by writing that discloses the struggles she faces in her attempt to understand the paradox of life and death, among countless other dualities. Fish remain a focal point of her work due to their impact throughout her life as an ever present element of decor and endless source of inspiration. While she actually thinks fish are gross, slimy, and smelly, that doesn’t keep her from exploring the depths of what they have to offer her in their wholly dead form. With that said, all fish aside, her work revolves around one body of water: Lake Michigan.