Review Me: Elsie Gray: Realistic Intense
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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Elsie Gray: Realistic Intense

Elsie, thank you for accepting our invitation to talk about your art. Tell us about your artistic background story and if there was a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as a visual artist?

Always was interested in drawing as a child, at an early age I was unable to talk, my tongue just didn't work, up until I was about roughly 6 years old, I was very discouraged by reading, math, and science courses growing up, and drawing made me feel better about myself. Took me to a place where I didn't have to worry about anything other than what I was creating. Therapeutic in a way. Throughout my former education, continued on with art; however, I could speak now, but remained silent, I suffered from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and anorexia/bulimia, these problems that I have faced helped me with my art however, by creating inspiration and wanting to spread awareness of these mental illnesses. Wanted to convey to the audience just how real the struggles are and how they're not just simple little non-important issues, these are issues that affect thousands of people and are very serious, so my art and pieces want to scare and make the audience understand just how important these illnesses are.

You are amazing. You did not give up and resort to a sedative called art. You create artworks to depict the problems you were struggling with and also help people with similar dilemmas. Was there ever a moment of doubt to question your art career entirely?

I have doubted my work several times, before I started making the pieces I currently create, there was a time that I thought art only solely relied on drawing people's faces, and I was TERRIBLE at it, couldn't get the proportions accurate enough, I then came to realize that art doesn't just mean drawing people's portraits, and began to take a more abstract sculptural approach I've discovered during my undergrad.

Our readers are willing to know about their favorite artist’s daily artistic life. What is your daily routine when working in your studio?

I get in my studio, and I clean. I cannot work in a messy studio, everything has to be put in its place and I will spend the next hour or so putting it there. I then take out my sketchbook and look at all my ideas I have so far for the piece (pieces) etc. put my hair up, my welding boots on, and anything loud on a speaker turned to the highest degree. Sometimes ill have an idea and just go straight to making the piece, oftentimes, I just melt something on a canvas, throw something on a canvas and see what that looks like. I put magazine images related to the pieces in / for trying to create, and tape them all over the wall, my studio often looks like a crazy detective’s office.

How cool! Now we are eager to know more. So, take us through your process of making your artworks.

At first, I develop an idea I want to reach the viewers with, I then think of personal experiences. I tend to like to incorporate personal items in my works, such as patient itineraries, pill bottles, and personal notes I wrote in my notebook while attending treatment.
I often build the scary thin outline of the structure with thin wire, nice I have the structure completed, I cover it in the skin, also known as black trash bags, I will then melt the bags with a heat gun to the pieces to give a melting/distorted look, makes the pieces come alive.

It seems that drawing attention to eating disorders and embodying how these disorders emaciated the body and mind is the concept that you convey in your artworks specifically. Is there a central concept connecting all your works together or each series or artwork is unique?

Central connecting points would be mental health and drawing attention to eating disorders and the fatal quest of thinness often reflected in the media of today's world. Some artists allow the artwork itself to speak to the viewer, and some prefer to provide detailed artwork descriptions to guide their audience in order to receive the message. Would you like to give a particular interpretation of your work to your viewers or you prefer to leave the whole interpretation to your audience? I prefer to have my artwork speak for itself, I attempt to make my pieces very gut-wrenching, so when the viewers look it immediately gives a reaction, either scared, uncomfortable, or uncomfortable.

Great job! Elsie, How do you get inspired? How do you seek and use inspiration for your works?

I’m very inspired by people. After being hospitalized for a severe eating disorder, I looked towards others around me in the facility for inspiration in my artwork.

Where your subjects come from? How do you select your artworks subjects?

My pieces' subjects come from personal experiences, as well as what a majority of people struggle with.

Artworks are often best driven not just by emotion but by artists' messages that will then provoke an emotional response in both the artist and viewers. Is there an artwork or series that you would like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for my piece "starving nightmare" this is my first piece that was in a gallery, It really kicked off my idea for future pieces incorporating the effects of an eating disorder. I think it’s very important and eerie and that's exactly what my goal as an artist is, of course, that and drawing attention towards the illness in an abstract sculptural way. People are very hush-hush when talking about these things, that shouldn't be the case, as with my work I will continue advocating and drawing attention to this slow death.

Since our readers enjoy your works and the message you transfer via your art, they constantly ask about your new endeavors or projects. Any upcoming works or future projects that you would like to share with our readers?

Future endeavors include, working on a current series, depicting the female body and its “fatal quest to thinness” will be 4 pieces of series ranging from life-size sculptures, to more abstract expressionist paintings with depictions of the human body associated with the pieces. Plan on continuing this idea of battling the idea of thinness as I've recently digressed with my weight personally. I will be continuing to create pieces that explore more of the physicalities and negative outcomes these disorders can result in, such as infertility, organ failure, and poop bags.

What are your art influences? Which artists were the key influences in your art career in different eras?

Eva Hesse
Magdalena Abakanowicz
Zdzisław Beksiński
And of course Gustav Klimt
With their usages of color, shape, and form in their sculptures, and paintings it gives the audience a very urgent initial feeling when first looking at the pieces. Varying from life-size sculptures, to murals or paintings, these artists and their work have inspired me in getting across a message very effectively and quickly to the audience's eyes by use of size, materials, and concept.

And, if you could meet one of your ideal artists from the past, who would it be and what will you ask about?

What inspired Eva Hesse in her work, and what her process for making pieces entails.

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