by Jennifer Naze
Ellen Sicotte was born in 1902. At the age of 19, she married Frank Carrier and together they ran his parents’ farm. After an accident which left Frank partially blinded, Ellen took over the farm chores. Not only did Ellen complete farm chores, she was the Township supervisor, community barber, designed and sewed for “hard to fit” women and an avid hunter and fisherman.
This hard working mother of four loved nature and could spend hours watching a family of beavers work on the Chocolay. Ellen also loved to garden and had a rainbow display of tulips planted around a custom made windmill with rotating blades, which she built. Ellen even designed her own kitchen cabinets to create her dream kitchen. The windmill and kitchen cabinets weren’t the only folk art pieces that Ellen created, she was also a painter.
In her “retirement” years from farming, Ellen picked up the brush and palette. One of Ellen’s most sought after creations was a 16” x 20” painting of the family farm. Each of her children coveted the piece. So, Ellen painted four replicates of the painting but each of those had a different cloud formation. Ellen entered her paintings in the Harvest Festival (now known as the Marquette County Fair) and won blue ribbons for her work. Ellen was also one of the first group of exhibitors in the early years of Art on the Rocks. Ellen Sicotte Carrier didn’t have any trouble selling her paintings celebrating life in the Upper Peninsula.
If you are wondering what other works of folk art depict a celebration of north woods lifestyle, you have until September 2nd, 2016 to view and enjoy our special exhibit The Folk Art Tradition of Upper Michigan here at the Marquette Regional History Center. The exhibit includes a painting by Ellen Carrier, titled “Spring Flood.” This exhibit highlights pieces from other museums, artists and items from our own permanent collection. Don’t miss the chance to celebrate folk art with us!