Ella Tulin Was Renowned Sculptor and Activist

Ella Tulin, whose monumental sculptures of the human form - voluptuous, weighty, ironic and humorous - were cherished, collected and displayed over much of the world, died in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 27. She was 75.

All of her figures are created in her signature understanding and forgiving style, announcing "We are here, so very boldly, uniquely, and powerfully rooted here." Ella liked the figure, she said, "because of the endless ways you can see it in relationship to everything else - to a landscape, a chair, to other figures."

Born in Takoma Park, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C., Ella lived in Bethesda, Md., for the past 41 years, and summered in West Tisbury, more recently with her husband, Nick Mosey, whom she married in 2000. Ella studied literature, art and art history at American University, and did studio work there in painting and sculpture.

"I started with painting, but wandered into the sculpture studio and never came out," she once said.

Ella continued sculpture studio work at London Polytechnic in the United Kingdom and at the Corcoran School of Art, earning her master's degree at George Washington University in art and art therapy.

She created powerful figurative work, initially in terra cotta, in her Bethesda studio, subsequently working with the New York foundry of Dominico Ranieri to cast in bronze or other materials. "The way I celebrate life is through the making of sculpture. I sculpt women, earthy, vulnerable, open, sexy, joyful, pained and exuding life. The woman's pelvis cradles the world," she said.

A longtime activist for peace and freedom, Ella was a founding member of Women's Strike for Peace. In support of this work she traveled to Czechoslovakia under Soviet occupation to take financial support to Charter 77 writers and artists, to Chile after Pinochet's overthrow of democracy to monitor human rights abuses and to bring back documentation for Amnesty International, and to post-revolutionary Cuba to press Fidel Castro for an open judiciary and government. And, upon her return to the United States, to counter the anti-Cuba sentiment generated in the country.

Her colossal seven-foot piece, Fully Empowered, was the centerpiece, program cover and award design for Progress of the World's Women, the International Art Exhibition at the United Nations in New York in June 2000.

Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions in London, Paris and Moscow, as well as within the United States, in Washington, D.C., Bethesda Md., New York city, East Hampton, N.Y., Boston and West Tisbury, Cincinnati, Ohio, Boca Raton, Fla., New London, Conn., and Portland, Me. Add to those the selected collections at the National Portrait Gallery and the Stewart Rawlings Mott Foundation.

"Ella Tulin is a world-class artist who melds urbanity, craft, wit and love in a substantial body of work that will greatly reward our most serious attention," said David Levy, former director of the Corcoran Gallery and Museum of Art in Washington, D.C.

David Mosey, brother of Ella's husband, Nick, summed up Ella's vivacious life: "Ella had extraordinary vitality - from heart, soul and brain - it glowed through every fiber, as if she'd plugged into some high energy source, and never bothered to unplug. She always sizzled with life.

"Ella retained the capacity for Swiftian outrage - outrage at the despicable way in which our societies treat those least able to protect themselves - outrage at cruelty - outrage at stupidity. It was the obverse of her love affair with imperfect humanity, and it should remind us that when we lose the capacity and the energy to be outraged, we are abdicating our responsibilities as civilized human beings.

"Ella was abundantly generous. She was not generous because she liked you, but because being generous was the right way to be if you were a card-carrying human being."

Beloved wife of Nick Mosey, Ella is the devoted mother of Leah, Peggy and the late Michael; loving sister of Emily (Sam) Loube, cherished grandmother of Maya, Maggie, Henry, Jasmine, Ieuan and Beatrix. She also leaves two step-children, Tam Mosey and Julia Jones.

Memorial services will be held in Washington, D.C., on April 22, and on the Vineyard on a date to be announced in the early summer.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy in her memory may be made to Through the Kitchen Door, 3305 Pauline Drive, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 or at www.kitchendoor.org.