Elise McAuley can be found dancing her little heart out in the ballet (she’s been at it for 17 years), behind the camera or occasionally photo blogging on Things and Stuff. Write her an e-mail and her response will drip with color, sweetness and sincerity. These characteristics of her personality are definitely reflected in her photographs, which closely resemble the most candid elements of our society; her eye is trained to take in the emotion that most people omit in their everyday lives.

Now Elise opens up for Smile Politely.

Consumed by: Nostalgia, comfort and exoticism.

Age: Forever 23.

Hometown: Manhattan, Kan.

Occupation: Photographer, ballet dancer and project coordinator.

One item you can’t live without: My sweet one.

Bored by…: Boring stuff.

Which course helped you grow as an artist?: Too many! Every single class I took through Parkland’s art department was truly amazing; Ninth Letter of 2007 at the UIUC with Jennifer Gunji and Uncle Daniel Goscha; and Modern Japanese Drama with Professor David G. Goodman of the East Asian Language and Cultural Studies department.

Dream job: To own an art gallery or candy shop or both?!

Art means…: Something fresh that still that looks good — looks matter to me and I’m not afraid to say it.

What is Champaign-Urbana’s art scene missing?: Candy shop (our new gallery).

What are you working on next?: How to open our new gallery.

Inspiration/motivation comes from…: Popular culture, people, sound and humor.

Most prized piece you’ve created: A six foot piece of my dog, Disco. It’s huge, minimal, funny and simple. I built a glossy white frame to boarder and presented it on a red wall. Now I have a 115 pound dog.


Ordinary person, place or thing about Champaign-Urbana: UIUC’s art department — somebody please donate money to re-do the entire building.

Extraordinary person, place and thing about Champaign-Urbana:
Persons: My creative sidekick, Tristan, always thinking with me. Dean Schwenk and Kim Robeson — the most imaginative and talented couple I know.

Place: Bea Nettles’ art studio in her basement.

Thing: Having a unique realm of individuals.

Elise McAuley will also be in the Gala performance with several other dance schools and dancers on Saturday, August 15 to kick off Champaign’s 5th Annual Downtown Festival of the Arts. You can find more of her fun-lovin’ photographs on her MySpace page