Houma artist Ellen Chase McCord recycles paper for use in paintings

2021-12-25 06:00:08 By : Ms. Kerry M

Houma artist Ellen McCord brings new life to unwanted paper bits and shreds to serve as a backdrop for her paintings of Louisiana architecture and wildlife.

McCord, born and raised in Thibodaux, holds a bachelor of arts degree from Nicholls State University and previously served as director of the South Louisiana Center for the Arts in Houma. Though she has experience in other art media, such as ceramics, McCord focuses on papermaking and painting. 

“I love things that are repurposed," McCord said, adding that being able to upcycle unwanted paper brings her joy. "It's shredded paper that nobody wanted and I made it something beautiful. I think that's what I love so much about papermaking."

To make the recycled paper, McCord blends shredded scraps with water to make a pulp, which is then placed in a frame on a screen mat. The frames she uses range in size, which gives her variety in paper sizes to paint on. Once on the screen, excess water is removed from the pulp and it is set in a drying rack until completely dry. McCord often tints the paper or adds other elements to the pulp, such as gold leaf or confetti. 

One of the things she enjoys most about papermaking is how elements from the old paper used can become little surprises in its new form.

For instance, McCord made a painting for the Chick-fil-a in Houma in which she recycled the restaurant's bags and french fry boxes into paper. She intentionally left certain bits of the material in the pulp to get "little peeps" of the logo subtly throughout the new paper. She then painted on top of the paper, featuring the restaurant's logo in the center with Louisiana-themed elements surrounding it, such as birds, an alligator, a boat and the shape of the state of Louisiana.

Her paintings usually feature birds, alligators, oysters and New Orleans homes.

Her artwork and prints of her paintings can be found online at her Etsy shop, etsy.com/shop/ellenmccordarts, and at local retailers across the state:

This story is part of an ongoing profile series to showcase the artistic talents in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. If you are an artist or would like to suggest an artist for a future profile, please contact reporter Emily Enfinger at eenfinger@gannett.com.

-- Emily Enfinger is a reporter for The Courier and the Daily Comet. Follow her on Twitter at @EmilyEnfinger.