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Celebrate, sculpture by Ellen Woodbury

“Celebrate” is a stone sculpture of exuberance and relief. I chose a little, lithe and limber cat, one of my favorite animals, to express my joy.


I designed “Celebrate” in late May 2021, when our culture was just opening up again after the global pandemic. There was much to be thankful for; the return of good times with friends, the reawakening of art shows, going back to the movies, enjoying live music again. Months of social distancing and mask wearing were finally coming to an end. I read that it might only be a lull before a resurgence of cases (which is now happening) but what a relief, however temporary!


Cats are my muses and my comforts. They are the animals with whom I am most familiar, and I often carve them in stone and bronze. I know their anatomy and ways of moving through my experiences studying and animating them at Disney. I have shared most of my life with their elegant company. They embody my idea of joyful expression.


Making small stone sculptures is always a challenge, particularly in a hard marble such as Atlantic Black. A size comparison with a gallon of orange juice illustrates the diminutive size of this piece.

Celebrate stone sculpture size comparison
“Celebrate” size comparison with a gallon of orange juice.

The wide spread arms were a risk to make because the smaller they are the thinner they are. But, they survived the process, so therefore a risk worth taking. One never knows how far one can push a stone until one tries. It is the exploration part of the creative process, and very exciting in a nerve-wracking sort of way. There is no manual, only the courage to try.

The Stone

The stone is Atlantic Black marble; the secret quarry is located in some country somewhere along the Atlantic Ocean. We keep the location secret because many veins of glorious black marble throughout the world are now spent. The great blacks, Belgium and Mongolian Imperial, are all used up.  Luckily, this new black marble is equally beautiful.

Atlantic Black sometimes has gorgeous bands of fossilized seashell, like the tail form in “When Horses Fly”. The block for Celebrate had no bands of shell, only fossilized confetti particles of shell fragments, very appropriate for a sculptural celebration.

The stone matrix is extremely hard and made a metallic clinking sound when the shards fell to the cement floor of my studio as I was cutting the stone. This makes me wonder if there is some sort of mineral or metal combined with the primordial muck which became this gorgeous piece of the earth over hundreds of millions of years of heat and pressure. These are staggering concepts when pondered.

Celebrate Back View, sculpture by Ellen Woodbury
“Celebrate” back view.  Photo by Mel Schockner.


The covid crisis still rages in many places in the US and throughout the world. We still have quite a ways to go. Even so, I celebrate my new appreciation for what I used to think of as ordinary life, the people, animals, and places I treasure.

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