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Meet Elena Mary Siff in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elena Mary Siff.

Elena, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
From a very early age I was encouraged to be creative as my parents were lovers of art and culture. Art was always in our home and I have always enjoyed collecting odd and unusual objects as potential future art supplies. Over the years I have made paper, created a series of artist’s books, and created public art installations. Another major interest of mine is outsider/self-taught art as my son is a painter who is considered to be a self-taught and eccentric artist. As an independent curator, I organized a large outsider exhibition titled: Radiant Spaces: Private Domain…all artists were from California and were self-taught. Another large exhibition which I curated was a survey exhibition of California assemblage art for the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art. Other curated projects I organized were mail art exhibitions which included international artists who sent me objects from all parts of the world…The Magic Show and the Fluxus Mail Art Exhibition were 2 such projects. I am a co-founder of Women Beyond Borders: A huge project which included women artists from all countries and cultures which was shown internationally for many years. Working alone in the studio is very rewarding but I have often felt the need to expand and occasionally interact with larger art communities. Most recently I have been preparing for my upcoming solo exhibition at Fig Gallery in Santa Monica (Sept/Oct. 2018). My work can be called surreal and my influences in art are surrealism, visionary art, fluxus art and conceptual art. For my solo show I am working on a series of miniature constructions made from a large variety of materials which I have collected for many years. I am visually interpreting one of my favorite surreal masterworks: Invisible Cities written by Italo Calvino. This is a collection of 55 chapters each featuring a magical city. I have chosen 30 of the cities to recreate. The text about each of these cities will be on view next to my tiny interpretations. I hope you will take a look.

Has it been a smooth road?
Of course the road to creation is often rocky…inspiration ebbs and flows. The reason I work in so many media is to keep the creative juices flowing…..no time to ever be stagnant for long as I move from medium to medium…..always experimenting. When I started collecting all these diverse objects at a very young age I had no idea what I would do with them. Eventually they are finding their place in my creative world… As Joseph Cornell (my hero) said…”Everything can be used. We have no idea what one object will tell another.”

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Elena Mary Siff story. Tell us more about the business.
I also create assemblage jewelry and handmade books of all sorts made from alternative materials, such as a carob pod, a vintage grater, a toy truck…non-traditional books can be made with anything. I sell these through my Etsy store and at a local store in Santa Monica called Artful. My use of diverse materials may set me apart from other artists…Assemblage art may not be considered as “main-stream” as painting. Drawing and sculpture or as valued by the “art world” but I will continue on my quest to be an inspired assembler.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Hopefully assemblers will be more respected (i.e. art history). Younger artists today mix media more freely than ever before…blending formats, genres, materials…it is a wide open scene and I find it very exciting.

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