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Prior Pleasures

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Prior Pleasures

an exhibition of photography by Ellen Cantor at the West Hollywood Library, on view from Dec. 11, 2018 through May 7, 2019.

Presented by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division. For more information visit or follow @WeHoArts on social media.

On view during regular library hours:

M-Th 11a-7p; Fr-Sa, 10a-6p; Su 1p-5p; closed holidays

West Hollywood Library, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood

Cantor_Alice In Wonderland

Artist's Statement

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.”  Aldous Huxley

In an age when technology is slowly replacing the tactile experience of reading a book, my work recalls and celebrates the joy of losing oneself within the pages of a favorite childhood tale.

My current project, entitled Prior Pleasures, is deeply influenced by my love of literature. This series explores memory and preservation of the past while ensuring the creation of a visual legacy for the next generation. The books photographed for this series are the ones I have carried with me since childhood. My mother read them to me and, in turn, I read them to my children, carrying on a tradition of the written and spoken word.

Prior Pleasures is created using a multiple exposure technique (without Photoshop.) I photograph the end pages, illustrations, and text. This process allows me to show the excitement of a book fluttering open and coming to life for readers of all generations. 

Rediscovering these books led me to realize the power and value of the hands-on experience of reading. As I documented each volume, I was transported to a time and place that allowed for imagination and fantasy. With this series, I examine what it is that we remember and how we honor objects that inspired our early creative thinking. Ultimately, Prior Pleasures is meant to remind us that books can excite and enrich our lives. 

About Ellen Cantor

Ellen Cantor was born in Chicago, Illinois and lives in Southern California. She graduated from the University of Illinois and UCLAX Environmental Design Program. She studied photography at Santa Fe Workshops, Maine Media and The Los Angeles Center of Photography.

Her images are about time, loss, and memory. By photographing and re-contextualizing precious mementos she has sought to understand how life proceeds and then, ultimately, disappears. She documents the artifacts of the past in order to enrich her present. 

Her work examines how families archive and pass down memories from generation to generation. This work responds to a universally relatable experience of sifting through the items left behind determining how to incorporate our inheritance.

Her work is photographed in the studio to allow her maximum opportunity to explore the momentos that are most precious to her.

Ellen is represented by dnj gallery in Santa Monica, Susan Spiritus Gallery in Irvine, and Truth and Beauty Gallery in Vancouver, BC. She is a member of the Los Angeles Art Association, Gallery 825 and the 2015 recipient of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Fine Art. 

Honors include: Critical Mass 200 in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, Ellen received Honorable Mentions in the following exhibits: “Play” at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, “TPS2,” at the Texas Photographic Society and “Tribe” at the Lightbox Photographic Gallery.

Her work has appeared on,, fraction,, Voyage LA Magazine, My Daily Photograph and Silvershotz. Other publications include Harper’s Magazine, Muzee Magazine and SHUTR Magazine.

In 2017, Ellen had solo exhibitions at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA; The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO; The Spartanburg Museum of Art in Spartanburg, SC; dnj gallery, Los Angeles and the Italian Cultural Exchange between Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825 and ART 1307, Cultural Institution, Naples, Italy and The Palos Verdes Malaga Cove Library Gallery. Ellen was also included in many other group shows including the Jerusalem Biennale, South Bay Focus at the Torrance Art Museum and the Open Show 2017 at the Los Angeles Art Association.

In 2018, Ellen had a solo exhibition “DICHOTOMY” at dnj Gallery in Santa Monica. She also exhibited at SBC/SOLA Gallery, Los Angeles; Hillel USC; The Loft Gallery, San Pedro, CA; Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825 and CA 101.


For more information on this exhibition please contact Mike Che, Arts Coordinator, at 





Cantor_Nancy Drew