gmhTODAY 02 gmhToday May June 2015 - Page 34

Artfully yours Artist finds inspiration from South Dakota to California Written & Photographed By Laura Wrede S outh Dakota is a land of many extremes. There are flat dry prairies surrounded by high mountains with glacial lakes. Summers can soar above one hundred degrees and scorch every thing in its wake. In the winter, the wind chill can drop to less than 20 degrees; a temperature so cold that it can cause frostbite in less than thirty minutes. In the springtime, it’s as if the land forgot the harsh cold winter as miles of colorful prairie grasses and wildflowers fill the view. This was home to artist Elissa Neshiem for three decades. “When you live in one place for thirty years you become connected to that landscape in a magnificent way,” said Elissa. “Each highway and dirt road is a map to your internal compass 34 G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E telling you, this is where you are and this is where you are going. There is no doubt or fear even when you discover a new road, because you are home. This is what growing up and living in South Dakota is to me.” The Black Hills National Forest, Buffalo Gap Grasslands, the eerie Badlands, the red clay of the southern hills in Fall River, high meadows and canyons in Spearfish, all were the familiar sights to Elissa growing up. They became the visual seeds that sparked her creative imagination as she traveled often over long dusty roads to visit family. “Much of my close and extended family lived scattered amongst various small towns in western South Dakota. As MAY / JUNE 2015