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    Pet Rocks // Elizabeth Hardy
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    Elizabeth Hardy begins with the primordial past. The land before time, time before time, somewhere between a rock and an ethereal place. This earthen experiment crystallizes in Hardy’s two- and three-dimensional artwork.

    Literally — crystals. She grows them, worlds of them, in large baths of super-saturated borax and boiling water, quickly cooled. “A collaboration between me and chemistry,” the 27-year-old says. It’s a project she’d do as a kid with her scientist parents, who always encouraged her to creative-problem-solve, to seek nature in the dense deciduousness she grew up in near Cincinnati. A nearby hill led to a sweeping valley to a riverbank to a pure sense of wonder. “I’ve been chasing after that feeling since I can remember,” she says. “My work pays homage to the elements of the sublime in nature.”

    The family would explore caves on vacation, and now her studio — a room in her place in Old Louisville — houses her crystals, her “cave dwellers.” Some are furry. Furry? Furry. Hardy, inspired by Jim Henson films, creates objects that turn into surreal, cuddly-looking life forms. Her three big faux-fur cactuses? Super huggable. “I’m trying to push the cuddle threshold,” she says. “Sometimes I need something playful to step away from the dark stuff.”

    When Hardy isn’t working full-time as a fashion stylist, she’s in her little cave, dusty from the marble she’s learning to carve, three years into a 10-year process. Marble — that medium composed of primordial, calcic sea creatures settled to old ocean bottom, pushed up into mountains and quarried into Hardy’s hands. “I am humbled by the stone,” she says. “I want to take it with a lot of care so I honor the amount of time it took for the material to form.”

    Hardy, who recently won $5,000 as the recipient of the local Bill Fischer Prize for Visual Artists, has no upcoming shows scheduled, only study. Last year, she was funded to go to Tuscany, to pick out stone from the same region Michelangelo quarried his from. These days, she drives to Vermont to fill her car with marble. “Every trip turns to stone,” she says.

    To learn more about Elizabeth Hardy and her work, visit her website

    This originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.


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