Elsa Neipris Waller
Elsa was born in Malden, Massachusetts and began her lifelong passion for the arts by taking courses at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and receiving her bachelor’s degree from Boston University. It was at BU where she met her future husband, Julian Waller, whom she married in 1956. Elsa continued her studies at the California College of Arts and Crafts and, after moving to Vermont in 1968, began her career as a fiber artist. A lifelong learner, Elsa continued taking classes at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on Deer Isle in Maine, and she received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 1994.
A creative vanguard, Elsa worked with many forms of fiber including wall hangings, free-standing sculpture, and traditional loom work. She also innovated with materials such as belts, extruded plastics, and homemade rope, sometimes even spinning her own yarn. Her work remains in the collections of the R.H. Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont, the Kirkland Gallery of Millikin University, IBM, the Prudential Center in Boston, as well as many private collections. She also exhibited her work in galleries and spaces across the US and was one of the Vermont artists who was chosen by Joan Mondale for an exhibit in the Vice President’s home in Washington, DC.
Elsa had a quiet strength and brought resilience with every endeavor she undertook. This was brought to bear when she learned in 1973 that she had multiple sclerosis, ten years after having her first attack. Even with this often-debilitating disease, Elsa was a loving wife, raised two wonderful children, was a leader in her communities, traveled the world, and built a thriving career.
Elsa was an inspiration and influence on many, whether it was through sharing her experience with other people with MS or other artists. She mentored apprentices, taught classes at the University of Vermont, and was a founding member of the Vermont Women’s Caucus of the Arts.
When Elsa lost her beloved husband of 65 years, the silver lining was that she continued to flourish. In this period, many came to know Elsa anew, as she brought forward her great sense of humor, quirky personality, and delightful wit. Indeed, she gained many new fans in the last months of her life.
Elsa was predeceased by Julian and a son, Avram. She leaves behind her children Nomi Munroe and Seth Waller, Nomi’s husband Scott Munroe, Seth’s wife Sandy Lewis, grandchildren Kayla Munroe, Jackson Waller, and Elizabeth Waller, sister and brother in-law Judy and Charlie Greenbaum, and dear family friend Donna Harris.
Elsa’s family would like to thank the caring and devoted staff of the Skilled Nursing unit at the Cardinal at North Hills in Raleigh, North Carolina for being an integral part of her final years. Donations can be made to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts https://www.haystack-mtn.org/support or Deer Island Heritage Trust https://www.islandheritagetrust.org/donate-now.