Elise Peterson can do it all. As a multidisciplinary artist, she has an incredible ability to take seemingly ordinary elements and create beautiful narratives inspired by history, technology and social commentary. She’s a writer, an illustrator of children’s books, a podcast host and a mom. But what we love most about Elise is her dedication and belief that creative passions belong at the forefront of your priorities. Becoming a mother doesn’t mean you give up on your dreams and your interests. Elise is inspirational and yet completely genuine. We’re excited to introduce you to this stunning artist and share more about her philosophies, creative energy and how she’s making the world a more beautiful place to be.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’ve lived all over, but have spent the past 10 years in New York and Los Angeles. In that time, I have had my hand in quite a few projects, but the common thread that unites my work is storytelling. I’ve always been fascinated by exploring the truth and the many factors that evolve our personal truths. This inclination has led me to illustrating children’s books, working as a multidisciplinary visual artist, writing, on-camera hosting and podcasting. I’m also a mom to an incredibly funny and loving 2-year-old son, Sargent.
We love your podcast, Cool Moms. What made you want to start this project?
I was living in New York at the time doing some gallery hopping in Chelsea with a friend. I was also six months pregnant. It occurred to me, in that moment in between Kara Walker canvases, that I would not be the same person I was before ever again. Would my childless friends still want to hang? How would I prioritize myself in the midst of motherhood? I sought out the advice and stories of moms that I admire and respect. These conversations became the inception of Cool Moms. I wanted to give a platform to women who unabashedly prioritize their passions while still embracing motherhood. It’s now become a wonderful community of not only the mamas that lend their voice to the platform, but all of the folks that I am able to connect with in person and via social media.
Any favorite episodes or guests from the podcast?
Oh damn! I couldn’t choose a favorite simply because each episode provides something unexpected and unique to the guest. My favorite part is to be completely prepared for an interview and then come away with something I didn’t expect. It happens every time.
Can you tell us about your artistic practice? How would you describe your style?
I work in installation, sculpture, collage and moving image. I’m engaged by how identity interacts with varying sociopolitical factors. My work is informed by the past, reimagined in the framework of the evolving notions of technology, intimacy, cross-generational narratives and intrapersonal discourse.
It occurred to me, in that moment in between Kara Walker canvases, that I would not be the same person I was before ever again.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
Literally anywhere. Mostly from things I don’t understand, want to feel close to or that I am trying to run away from.
How do you deal with creative burnout?
I think stepping away and finding ways to reconnect with myself are the most helpful—praying, reading, enjoying nature or spending time with my son.
How would you describe your personal style? Do you have a daily uniform/look?
Animal print, neutrals and fun shoes on a good day.
You have a free day all to yourself. How do you spend it?
I’d work out, read, drink lots of bubbly, hit a museum, enjoy a decadent meal and FaceTime with someone I love.
What does a typical morning look like for you?
Emails, making breakfast, praying, tarot cards, a walk with Sargent, phone calls, learning something, more emails, make art if I’m lucky (in no particular order).
What are your all-time favorite, must-read books?
All-time favorite is hard for me unless we are talking food, but The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a classic I could read multiple times. I also just finished The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I didn’t want it to end.
Currently listening to?
Sasha Marie Radio – Chapter 10 is it!
What is on your nightstand?
Water, a book, my phone and crystals…and a snack.
Current beauty routine?
Drink water! I use a daily cleanser and protect my skin with an antioxidant—vitamin C is my favorite. I wear sunscreen every day and exfoliate at night. I use a variety of products: Michelle German Aesthetics (her line is available to the public soon!) and Osea are two of my favorite brands.
Are there any causes or movements you’re particularly passionate about right now?
Economic and educational equity for marginalized people specifically for Black people. I’m also always driven to make art accessible for everyone through creating public art exhibitions and beyond.
Anything exciting on the horizon for you?
More life! Also, I’ll be releasing a fun, downloadable coloring book very soon, new episodes of Cool Moms are coming and some exciting brand collaborations. Stay tuned.
“You use up everything you got trying to give everybody what they want.” – Nina Simone
Connect with Elise
Photos of Elise + Sargent by Priscilla Gragg