To local artist and Croton-on-Hudson resident Eleanor Kwei, art serves as a bridge in connecting the community.
Growing up with diplomat parents from the Republic of China, Kwei’s upbringing led her to live on four different continents before she turned 18. She found solace in art, using it as a “visual language for socializing and blending in.” Fifteen years ago, when Kwei made the move to Croton, she sought to use her artistic skills to benefit the community.
With a BFA in illustration, Kwei is known for her work in rendering the iconic “100 Acre Woods” map seen in Winnie the Pooh Stories and Poems published by E.P. Dutton. Her recent community projects have focused on mapmaking, a pursuit she considers a “labor of love.”
Kwei’s mapmaking expertise has been applied to various locales, including Croton-on-Hudson, Hudson Highlands, Bedford and private estates. Additionally, a potential mapmaking project is in the works for Croton’s Van Cortlandt Manor at the culmination of the historic site’s ongoing renovation efforts.
Her maps are intricate pen and ink creations, serving as interpretive representations that illuminate treasured aspects of each area.To Kwei, maps provide a sense of “direction and security.” She eloquently describes the mapmaking process as “a liberating linear flow using gathered information and geographical guides, depicting reality overlaid with imagined people and horses walking about, travelers paddling canoes, or arriving at ferry docks after a southward voyage from Albany.” Her dream is to one day create a map of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Kwei’s artistic engagement extends beyond paper and canvas. As an active member of the Croton Village Committee, she plays a pivotal role in organizing events that celebrate the arts, such as Croton’s 125th Anniversary concert featuring local band Peter Calo and Friends.
Her commitment to community involvement is also evident in her membership with Croton 100, an environmental action group, and her volunteer work within Croton schools, where she curates art-related exhibitions and events, nurturing young artists’ talents.
This past summer Eleanor joined Croton River Artisans Gallery. She works with other members of the artist co-op to schedule an ongoing series of varied arts events. (For more information Øcrotonriverartisans.com.)
“We chose to move to Croton for its abundant human and natural assets,” she said. “Now I feel compelled to help spread the joy and gratitude of what this community has given me and my family.”
Sofia Cummins is enrolled at Vassar College as an English major.