Elise Lauterbach lives on a small homestead in the Blue Ridge Mountains, outside Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband, the writer Preston Lauterbach, and their three children. She is an avid gardener, shepherd, cook, and book collector.

She was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, educated in Memphis Public Schools and the Memphis College of Art. She received a B.A. in English at Haverford College where she studied with the painter Ying Li, and attended the International School of Art in Montecastello, Italy. Elise was a visiting student at Pembroke College, Oxford University, and attended the University of Virgina for graduate school in English literature.


As a child, I was always backstage. I grew up watching ballet assembled-- people coming from around the world to choreograph, design, stage, and dance in a gilded Vaudeville theater. Performance was fleeting. I liked making things that were more permanent. I still enjoy painting objects and places that are solid-- old-- lasting, and forming them into objects--paintings--with heft and texture. I can tell you the provenance of every object in every still life, including the price, no matter how long ago acquired. I gravitate to landscapes shaped by human history, landscapes whose history I have learned to read. I enclose ephemera in beeswax resin, my amber, to preserve and layer it.

I began to study the history of book on the way towards a PhD in English (I could paint whilst being paid to read books-- it was a good racket for a bit) but materiality once again sidetracked me-- touching indentations of type, studying watermarks, figuring out construction, engaged me more than the literary history I'd intended to write. Thingness gets to me. Bibliography reminded me again that making things is a wonderful way to spend one's life, and then motherhood shocked me into realizing that I had to choose how to allocate my energy.

I have been a shop girl, a production assistant, and archivist, an antiques dealer, and an English professor. I have always been a painter.

Making things again won, and I get to make gardens, food,  children, and paintings.