2013 Leadership in the Arts Award - Individual Recipient | Chrystene Ells, Regina

Sponsored by Her Honour, the Honourable Vaughn Solomon Schofield, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan

Chrystene Ells, Regina

Accomplished interdisciplinary artist Chrystene Ells spent 20 years in California working in the traditional special-effects industry for George Lucas's effects shop, and on films like Nightmare Before Christmas. The industry shift to digital media led her to earn a BA in Digital Animation from California's Expression College of Design, where she then served as Director of Fine Arts, teaching a range of classes. A co-founder of San Francisco's Bindlestiff Studio live theatre venue, Chrystene developed significant skills as a performer, director, and playwright.

Fascinated with the Saskatchewan story of the Depression-era shipbuilder Tom Sukanen, Chrystene moved to Regina to make the feature film Sisu about his life as her University of Regina MFA thesis project. Since graduation, she has completed several short local films and presented the acclaimed play KaleidoCycle at the Globe Theatre. As artist-in-residence (2012) at the Saskatchewan Filmpool, she guided local artists making their own puppet films, which she presented at Calgary's International Festival of Animated Objects, as well as at Regina's inaugural IPUFF (International Puppet Underground Film Festival), which Chrystene conceived and curated, and which was co-sponsored by Dunlop Art Gallery and the Filmpool.

A multi-talented artist, Chrystene's broad experience includes puppetry, scriptwriting, mime, directing, prop fabrication, mask making, sculpture, and painting. She has given numerous papers and lectures, and is a University of Regina Fine Arts sessional lecturer. At this spring's Regina Mayor's Arts and Business awards, Chrystene won the category of Innovation in the Arts. Her current project, Hello in There, guides Saskatchewan seniors in expressing poignant memories through visual art.

Photo by Clara Edvi-Antunes