Ellen Priest is an American abstract artist who is inspired by music and most notably by jazz. She lives and works near Philadelphia. Priest received her Master of Divinity from Yale University Divinity School in 1977 with a dual qualification in Christianity and the Visual Arts. As an artist, she is largely self-taught.
Priest's jazz-based abstractions balance directly on the border between painting and sculpture – vibrantly colored spatial illusions when read from a distance, and 3-D relief constructions of layered, collaged paper when seen up close. Jazz has been her subject matter since 1990. Drawing is always central to her process, as well as standing on its own. Ellen's inspiration comes from surprisingly diverse sources: life-long visual art influences include Cezanne's late watercolours, Matisse's color and compositional structure, and Abstract Expressionism, especially the paintings of Willem De Kooning and Joan Mitchell.