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A native Floridian, Ellie Diez-Massaro has lived in the Winter Park-Maitland area for the past 30 years. She attended Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, N.Y., and received her Associate of Science degree in photography from the Southeast Center for Photographic Studies at what is now Daytona State College.

Her interest in landscape photography originally lay in her desire to capture old Florida before it vanished. It was during road trips across the United States, traveling to art shows, that her fascination with the vast open spaces of the West took hold. “When I first saw the wide-open spaces, my spirit soared,” she says. Diez-Massaro was inspired by the tall-grass prairies, the Midwest’s endless cornfields and the desolate yet sublime landscapes of the Great Plains. She found a spiritual connection to the land where earth meets sky. She transforms ordinary landscapes into magical dreamscapes through the use of infrared film and colors found more in the imagination than in real life. Her hand-painted, black-and-white photographs are evocative, slightly surreal, even otherworldly.

Since 1991, Diez-Massaro has exhibited her artwork in the top juried festivals across the country, including the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver, St. Louis Art Fair, Old Town Art Fair in Chicago, Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City and the Sausalito Art Festival. She was the poster artist for the 2005 Riverwalk Art Festival in Naperville, Ill., the 2002 poster artist for the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival in Sun Valley, Idaho, and the 2001 T-shirt artist for the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in Tampa. She has won many awards and is in numerous private and permanent collections, including the City of Orlando and Sea World of Florida.