Colleagues honor Elsi Vassdal-Ellis for her 40 years at Western

by Chris Casquilho, WWU College of Fine and Performing Arts
Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 2:43pm

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From left: Paula Airth, Kit Spicer, Cristina de Almeida, Kent Smith, Elsi Vasdall-Ellis, and Brittany Schade

On Friday, June 9, at the Annual Senior Portfolio Exhibition at Academic West on the WWU Campus, Elsi Vassdal Ellis was honored with a gift by design colleagues and CFPA Dean Kit Spicer to commemorate her 40 years at Western Washington University.

Elsi began her teaching career at at WWU in 1977 as part of the VICOED (Visual Communication Education) Program. She joined the Art Department in 1985, laying the foundations of what later became Western's design program. In 2012, as Area Coordinator, she spearheaded the move of the design program into an autonomous department, and since then served as its Chair until her retirement. Elsi's career span has coincided with the transition from analog to digital processes that have permanently altered the discipline of graphic design. Elsi was a tireless advocate for the department's success by building its curriculum, mentoring its faculty, and securing the needed resources to turn its vision into a reality.

Regarding Elsi's creative practice, the book became her primary medium of expression in1984, and she continues to produce and exhibit her artist books in national and international group and solo exhibitions. Her books are housed in some of the most prestigious public collections in the country. Elsi's passion for book arts and printing technologies have inspired generations of students and colleagues. Her commitment and profound knowledge of materials and processes have helped make Western's design program unique in its kind.

As stated the inscription on her retirement gift, Elsi Vassdal Ellis will be missed but never replaced.