Ceilon’s Story

The Short, Official Story

Ceilon Aspensen has been an artist her entire life, has a BFA in Drawing from Mississippi State University, and paints in her studio every day in Shelby, Montana, just 80 miles east of Glacier National Park on the high plains of Montana. She is also the art teacher at Shelby Junior & Senior High School in Shelby, Montana. She taught high school art full-time Baltimore City Public Schools in Baltimore, Maryland from 2006-2011, founded and ran BozeArts in Bozeman, Montana from 2013-2016, and taught art as a volunteer and served as an art mentor in the Bozeman area for many years prior to earning teacher certification. She is also a doctoral candidate in American Studies with an emphasis in Contemporary Native American Art at MSU Bozeman, and will defend her dissertation in the spring of 2020.

Most of her work is relatively Jungian in nature. She usually starts with between one and three images, selecting images that strike her at the moment, montaging them together, causing the image to invoke a feeling of yearning or longing for forgotten or favorite places, or for as-yet unfound places. If she is true to her intuition when choosing images and completing the piece, when it is finished it tells her a story about herself, from somewhere in her unconscious mind. Ceilon considers her work particularly successful when the viewer has a similar experience of the image, even though the ‘story’ may be different for each viewer.

The primary medium Ceilon works in is drawing and painting, with occasional forays into printmaking and ceramics. She sells her work online through this website, through Fine Art America, through Zazzle, through her business page on Facebook, directly out of her studio, and through retail outlets when possible. Currently, a limited collection of Ceilon’s work is available at Fieldstone Mercantile in downtown Shelby. Her work is certified Montana Made by the Montana Department of Commerce, and is available to retailers at wholesale prices. (Contact Ceilon at 406-551-0907 or by email at artmaker@ceilon.com for information about buying at wholesale.)

Ceilon also teaches art classes in her cozy home art studio. Students may take both group classes or private lessons in a wide range of media, such as painting (acrylic, watercolor, or oil), drawing (pencils, colored pencils, pen and ink, pastels, oil pastels, charcoal), relief printmaking, visual journaling, or collage. You can book a class with Ceilon by calling 406-551-0907 or sending her an email at artmaker@ceilon.com.

A Longer, More Personal Story

As the short version of my bio states, I have been an artist my entire life. I cannot remember when I was not drawing, painting, or making things out of various materials. I am a maker. I make things. That’s what makes me happy, so that’s what I do. There’s not much I can do to explain why that is. It’s in me, that’s all.

I spent most of the first ten years of my life in Europe, born in France, lived in West Berlin (when it was West Berlin), and attended first through third grades at Munich American Elementary School, the DOD school in Munich Germany. My parents are from the same small town in Alabama, and I spent all of my summers on my grandfather’s farm until I was about sixteen. Those were formative experiences that affected me and my art in ways I could never have imagined at the time. I can see the effects of those experiences when I look at my finished artwork. I wonder if others can see them, too.

Teaching has always come naturally to me because I’ve always been responsive to people asking me to show them how to do things that I know how to do. Interestingly, according to the revamped and updated Bloom’s Taxonomy, being able to teach a thing is the highest level of synthesis of a subject and demonstrates mastery of the subject. It may be intuitive for me to have always felt that once I learned something for myself, the next step was to teach it to someone else. It could also just be part of my nature to just want to share what I have with others. Regardless of the reasons, making art and teaching have always gone hand-in-hand with me. If you look at my CV you’ll see that even in my pre-teaching-years day jobs I was always teaching, somehow.

About thirty years ago I moved to Montana to get out of the South (which is a yet even longer story that I’ll have to get to know you better to tell you). There are a lot of reasons that I moved 2500 miles from my nearest relative to a place completely foreign to me, but after a few years here in Montana it became apparent to me that I had done it unconsciously (or subconsciously) to be able to learn what I thought about things, instead of just what my family thought about things. I found my own voice and my own story in Montana.

Making art is and always has been about finding my voice and my story. Drawing, painting, and printmaking have always been the fastest route to my inner thoughts and feelings, and to my inner story.

Today I am a full-time junior high and high school art teacher, which I passionately enjoy. I get to help students find their true voice and inner story, even though I know it may be years before they become practiced at listening to themselves and trusting their story. It is an honor and privilege to get to work with these kids, and I recognize that working with kids is the most important, lasting work I will likely do in my life, in terms of a legacy that outlives me.