Ellen Fullman is an artist, musician, and sculptor of sound. Combining her longtime loves of sound and form into new artistic directions is something Fullman pursues by design and by chance. After graduating with a B.F.A. in sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute, one of her first performances was 1980's "Streetwalker," in which she wore her "Metal Skirt Sound Sculpture" for New Music America in Minneapolis. Not long after, Fullman noticed the haunting, seemingly endless tones made by long, vibrating wires. This accidental discovery sparked one of her longest-running projects, the Long String Instrument. The instrument consists of 100 wires, with 90-foot-long bass strings and 30- to 60-foot-long treble strings, all tuned with just intonation. It is played by three performers rubbing the strings gently, bringing out its eerie sound. Not surprisingly for such an ambitious project, it took a while to develop and record this instrument; Fullman's first recording with it was 1985's Long String Instrument, released by the Dutch label Apollo Records. Change of Direction was released in 1999.
While the Long String Instrument has been one of the main projects of Fullman's career, she has pursued many other works during that time. In 1986, she received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship; some of her other awards and grants include NEA Visual Artists Fellowship in New Genres in 1989 and 1990, and a New Forms Regional Initiative project grant for her collaboration with vocalist Tina Marsh in 1992. Fullman's other collaborations include a 1986-1989 composer/choreographer project with choreographer Deborah Hay, "The Man Who Grew in Common Wisdom," in Austin, TX, and an appearance on Poi Dog Pondering's 1992 album Volo Volo.
She continues to collaborate with the Deep Listening Band, and her albums Body Music and Staggered Stasis appear on their Deep Listening label. Fullman currently teaches composition classes and leads sound meditations at her Candy Factory studio in Austin. ~ Heather Phares