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ELLIE PINZ STUDIO by Bridget Broihahn

Photo by: The News-Gazette

There is a certain connotation when considering art history-big textbooks filled with pictures of art that can only be accessed in a large museum and then only seen behind thick walls of glass.

Ellie Pinzarrone-Ellie Pinz-is here to teach, inform and inspire those who teach, as well with her innovative videos and gallery. Ellie Pinz Studio, which has been in its current workspace since this past January, was recently awarded not one, but two grants from the City of Urbana. There she works on her art, which is that of mixed media embroidery, but also is in the process of creating and compiling a library of art resource videos for teachers and students. With titles like, "A dog looks at abstract art," "Eleven ways to banish artist's block," and "Write an A+ essay about art in four steps," she has already captured the attention of local educators.

She's unique: she has an M.A. in art history, but is also a practicing artist, too. Once an assistant for a prestigious Chicago gallery and a former staff member at Northwestern, this experienced young woman decided she needed to get out and do what she does best: instill a passion for art, its history and legacy.

"This work is very important. My goal is in making art and art history fun, digestible and a way to help people with their own art," she said from her gallery at Colab on Main St. in Urbana. "Not to bash the gallery, and I was included in the elite part of it, too, but I was not completely happy."

Her husband, John Wise, said she needed to figure out what she wanted to do.

"I needed to make things with my hands," Pinzarrone said, adding that with the help of friends and family she found her way to Colab.

"My friendship with Maria Ludeke, Esteban Gast and Matt Cho have really helped me jumpstart my business," she said. "This group has catapulted me."

She said it makes sense that she would want to be away from the elitism of art and back near its creation again. Her police officer father and teacher mother are also artists, both of whom nurtured Pinzarrone's self-expression in her art. Her mother was recently awarded the coveted teaching award, the Golden Apple for her work as an art teacher.

The apple certainly does not fall far from the tree in this family, because teachers here in East Central Illinois have already started collaborating with her for their next year's curricula. Art teacher, Nicole Kelly and history and enrichment teacher, Tom Murdoch, both from Mahomet-Seymour, sat around a table at Flying Machine coffee one summer morning, with laptops open and notebooks spread out. From the looks on their faces the conversation was intense.

"I'm thinking we could do this..." Kelly said while Pinzarrone wrote copious amounts of notes about a new video presentation they were steadily collaborating on.

"This is what Nicole and I have been looking for. Ellie is awesome, having already done much of what we are hoping to do," Murdoch said. "Plus, she has a background in history, so my mind is churning with ideas for student-generated videos of historical interpretations of period videos and photographs. I have been wanting to do this for years but never knew quite where to begin!"

To contact Ellie Pinz Studio, go to:, follow her on Facebook at:, Pinterest: Ellie Pinz Studio or Etsy: