www.elsabet.com

 

Bio

Elsa Gebreyesus lived in Ethiopia, Kenya, and United States before going on to receive her BA from Brock University in Ontario, Canada. After Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia, she lived there for five years, working as a Project Officer with an indigenous women's organization.  After leaving Eritrea, she came to the U. S. where she's been pursuing her career and her lifelong passion for art. In addition to her work and art, she also volunteers with organizations involved with human rights issues especially in Africa. She continues to learn from artists she admires and has been greatly influenced by modernist painters from both Africa and the West. Elsa Gebreyesus currently lives with her husband and two children in Fairfax, VA.

Statement 

Each of my paintings starts with a loose sketch, landscape or object and is built up with layer upon layer of paint. Often it will be in a state of chaos before the process of adding and subtracting begins. I do not start with an end in mind when I begin a painting, instead the challenge is to find the end. This process to me is a type of meditation - an intimate conversation between the materials and myself.

I am drawn to abstract compositions because they require us to stop and reflect, to ask questions. Abstract art is also open to multiple interpretations. Each viewer will bring his or her own experiences into play as they contemplate the work. This adds another dimension to the artwork, a sort of interactive communication that flows from the artist, to the painting and eventually the viewer.

In some of my paintings I use collage to enhance the surfaces of the canvases. I enjoy working with acrylic paint because of its versatility enabling me to work in light washes or thick applications. Drawing media in the paintings are caran d'ache and graphite. Some pieces incorporate text from my native language, Tigrinya. I also use sand and other texture media all part of the process of building visual stories that reflect experiences and internal states.

Tigrinya is one of the official languages spoken in Eritrea, a small East African country. It has a phonetic writing system consisting of symbols that represent syllables. Using these symbols in my paintings reflects my connection to my cultural heritage and enables me to express my views about the current situation in Eritrea.