About the Work

About the Photography

I make self-portraits for all of the ubiquitous and psychological reasons that humans have rendered their own image for centuries; to prove I exist. Unlike today’s “selfie” craze, often presenting false personas of perfection, I am reluctantly and courageously tearing my mythology apart. Since late 2013, I’ve been exploring lessons taught at home, school, and socially, in conjunction with the tales I have subconsciously berated myself with. Broadly, these are images of the Hero unraveling her personal Odyssey. Specifically, this work explores my struggles with trauma, depression, self-doubt and self-loathing. Catharsis occurs in the place of stark honesty when facing the wounds. Empowerment comes in peeling back the layers of noise and ego, making countless exposures until my heart and mind are satisfied with the result.

In 2013 the images began to organically develop as I struggled with the emotional fallout of a motorcycle accident and three unexpected family deaths. Haunted by feelings I couldn’t remember and words I couldn’t forget, I needed a way to express and explore the emotions. In 2015 I committed to a year-long photo project of daily self-portraits that persisted four years. Through my mother’s cancer diagnoses, treatments, surgeries and, most recently, a hip replacement, to the conclusion of my 21-year domestic partnership, living on my own, the loss of friendships and making new ones, as well as the growth and development of my spiritual practice, the self-portrait has become a remarkable tool of self-reflection, introspection and empowerment for me. I will continue to make self-portraits, perhaps not daily, but certainly always because the joy, heartbreak, and absurdity of being human will never cease to astonish and motivate me.

I am a documentarian, storyteller, editorialist and voyeur. Captivated by Caravaggio’s use of light, Francesca Woodman’s fearless self-examination, Duane Michals’ text and sequences as well as David Lebe’s light painting, photography is the constant that ties my past to my future. It is an action; a way of being and thinking that informs, distracts, consumes and enriches my experience of this life. It is a habit, a process so familiar that it feels like muscle memory. I push the shutter to document, collect, and transcend the moments that will be transformed by time, memory and sentimentality. My images are visual metaphors of emotion, unpredictable in concept and method, driven by the narrative.


About the Books

I came to book arts the long way around, through photography. 

This makes perfect sense to me; photographers make a book-like form every time we assemble a portfolio or construct a wedding album. Pace, sequence, and narrative are at the root of the product. But the one thing that has always bothered me about the completed portfolio or album is the lack of permission to touch the image, the paper it was printed on, the emulsion used. Heaven forbids we leave a fingerprint. 

Books, on the other hand, have no such taboo. They are designed to be held, carried and curled up with. They are intimate, transportable and tactile vessels of potential.

The books here are more fun and friendly than they are heavy and laden with meaning. They are explorations of material, structure and process with minimal content, born from the seduction of dimension and movement possible with an artist book. Photographs are usually flat, so to make something to hold, that moves and expands, is exciting. I am equally smitten with paper--the way it folds or doesn't, takes ink or not. Its weight, its drape, its color and texture. Tactile. Touch-able. Portable.


Why Manhole Covers? 

First, they are ordinary and mundane, urban and suburban artifacts. They offer a glimpse into the past and speak of the present. Tugging at my interest in material culture, they also feed my obsessive photographic gathering of like objects. They record time, transformed by trucks and tires and messy road crews. They are icons of industry and logos of past and present companies, artifacts of commerce and invention. They are markers, mandalas and oversized coins. They are diverse and beautiful and serve a range of purposes. They are the same yet different. They are the thresholds to the industrial nether world that lurks beneath our feet.

I see these iron discs as doorways to the subconscious, opened only by experts in the field of personal awareness and enlightenment. I also read them as metaphors of bodily function: Water, Gas and Steam. They scream at me telling me where I am and what I need to do: City and Communication. They remind me to pay the electric and telephone bills. And they make me aware of the simple fact that water, gas, electric, steam and telecommunications come from somewhere, they do not simply appear, it is not magic. I also see them as metaphors for the individual in society; jostled by pedestrians, moved by cars and pelted with various sundry deposits of litterbugs, the individual, like the manhole cover, is invisible in society. We/they come in various shapes and sizes, gleaming and embellished, similar yet different with something unique to offer.


About the Facsimiles

Elena's knowledge of conservation practices combined with her digital imaging skills have made her an asset to museums and libraries seeking book, print and ephemera facsimiles for research and display purposes. Merging modern digital output with traditional art practices, Elena is capable of producing accurate and functional copies of your books and ephemera. Working from your digital scans and detailed information about paper stock, weight, age and condition, she can determine the best modern paper stock and digital output parameters to produce the most realistic facsimile you will ever see. No more embarrassing xerox's, disarming your alarmed display cases or tedious page turning.