Michelle Elzay Death – Artist, interior designer, and historic preservationist Michelle Elzay passed away on Saturday, the 25th of March 2023 at approximately 12:53 am. Michelle Elzay died after battling metastatic breast cancer. She was 49 years old at the time of her death. Michelle was announced dead at her home in Chelsea surrounded by her devoted father Michael, dear friends, her cat Orlando, and held by her husband.
Michelle was a true New Yorker, sought out by friends and acquaintances for her knowledge of the city and the best of everything: food, fashion, culture, and exercise. She had a contagious enthusiasm for all things physical. An athlete since childhood, she earned a black belt in Judo in grade school.
Michelle Elzay biography
Born in Sands Point, NY to June Lauck Elzay and Michael Elzay, Michelle graduated with honours from Smith College, a school and community of friends that remained close to her heart for the rest of her life. Michelle earned an MFA from Columbia University, where she fell in love with her classmate and fellow artist, Matthew Brannon, whom she married in 2003.
Her conceptual portrait photography was multinational, historical, and archive-based. Her art emphasizes little communities that are resilient to time and fashion, honouring traditions and hard craft. She photographed nuns, falconers, psychic healers, and fencers. Her final series was a ten-year research endeavour and collaborative restoration of an 1834 Nantucket mansion. She discovered Essex Boston (1741, manumitted 1769, 1827), a former slave, who owned the house through significant primary research.
Michelle photographed house debris while researching and writing. “Essex Boston and Family 1” is in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s travelling exhibition “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today.” Michelle loved Nantucket. Michelle and Matthew lived in Nantucket, the alternating time between NYC and their repaired property. Michelle restored numerous island houses using her interior design skills and a lifetime interest in historic preservation.
She and her partner Pen Austin received the 2016 Nantucket Preservation Trust Architectural Preservation Award. June, her mother, will be buried there. She was a popular interior designer. Her interest in the families and histories of her homes shows. Her design studio was full of textiles, artifacts, and furniture, showing her insatiable collecting and special sensitivity to material culture, history, and humanity as shown through what we produce.
Michelle Elzay obituary
A celebration of Michelle’s life will be held at The Church of St. Francis Xavier at 46 W. 16th St., New York on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, at 2pm. Services to follow at a later date in Nantucket. Donations in honour of Michelle are welcomed at the following organizations: Smith College Fund, MA, Animal Haven, NY, Marla Ceely Lamb Fund, MA.
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