Elena Stonaker is always an artist, sometimes a muse. Los Angeles almost missed out on her. She almost moved to Orcas Island, was already far from her home in Colorado when she changed her mind, rented a Dodge Charger (no convertibles were available) and drove down to SoCal on Christmas Day. There she ended up at a dinner party with one of her favorite artists, the godfather of new-age painting, Alex Gray. And now it’s hard to picture Elena anywhere but in LA.
If someone asked you describe a sculpture, you might say: hard, rigid, and immobile. None of these words would describe Elena’s pieces. Her sculptures are soft, flexible, and cuddly—practically begging to be held and touched. Her craft is impulsive and hand-sewn. “I don’t connect with machines,” she says. Since they can be taken apart by pulling at the seams, her three-dimensional quilts are ever-evolving and shifting. She refers to them with female pronouns, as in “she likes to party.” Photos of her art get hundreds of likes on Instagram, but experiencing them IRL at her Koreatown studio gives you the full sense of their texture.