Artist Marinna Elinski working on a new illustration in her yurt.
Photo: Katie Lozancich

Natural Neon

Marinna Elinski interprets the natural world through color and creation.

There’s a small cluster of yurts hidden out of sight in Kelly, Wyoming. When I arrive at the little village of canvas, I’m greeted by artist, Marinna Elinski. She leads me through the snow over a small wooden bridge to the yurt that she calls home. At the entrance, she excitedly points towards the Tetons. They’re engulfed in a sea of clouds, but on a bright day, the Grand is visible right from her doorstep. Inside, natural light floods the small circular dwelling from the dome skylight above us. Right next to the door is a table covered with a half-finished piece and a tin of acrylic paints. This tiny home doubles as her studio and she explains how it’s the perfect place to make art. There’s no wifi or cell service, which keeps Elinski focused on the intricate details that define her artwork. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to working in New York City where she went to school.

Originally from western New York, Elinski studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts. The hustle and bustle wasn’t for her, so she ran away to the West. Snowboarding served as her compass, and it led her to Mt. Hood, and then to the Tetons. “Nature is the largest inspiration for my work, which is why being in this yurt is amazing,” she explains. “I’m fully immersed in it.” Just the other day, she was greeted by a moose and its calf outside her doorstep. These experiences get translated by her paintbrush. Moose, bison, wolves, and other critters dance across the canvas in various neon tones.

A close-up of a drawing of a skier.
Photo: Katie Lozancich

One of the most striking aspects of Elinski’s style is her color palette. It’s so bright that it makes her subjects seem like they might just jump right out of the composition. “I like the play of the neon with the dark. At some point, I might move away from it, but when you go out in nature there are these intense colors,” she argues. Whether it’s in wildflowers or a sunrise over the mountains, Elinski aims to celebrate the rich color that exists outside. She didn’t hold back for the magazine’s cover this year— in fact, she turned up the throttle. “Originally there was much less going on, but Olaus of JHSM said to ‘go nuts.’ I never get told that, so I was thrilled,” she says with a laugh.

But there’s more to this piece than its vibrancy: the cover also tells an important story of change. A warming climate melts the snow in the mountains and as it trickles down, it creates chaos. Animals flee from their homes, and we’re left trying to pick up the pieces, but it only seeps through our hands. “It’s sad to see what’s happening, but hopefully these big mistakes will push us as humans to make the changes that need to happen,” she explains. This message aligns with the overall theme of this year’s issue, which explores the changes that will affect our lives and the places we love.

Marinna Elinski standing in the doorway of her yurt.
Photo: Katie Lozancich

Elinski is passionate about creating and wants to do more than paintings. She would also like to design t-shirts, enamel pins, and paint murals. From the beautiful body of work that is displayed all throughout her home, I can tell she’s got a lot of big ideas just waiting to come to life.

Katie Lozancich totes her camera to many far off destinations and recently returned from a shoot in India. @_katielo

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