*CONTACT: eilenitzelmena@gmail.com

**CV AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

BIOGRAPHY

 

I am an Afro-Dominican multimedia artist and community organizer from the South Bronx currently based in Los Angeles. I graduated from the University of Southern California in 2017, with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts. My arts practice synthesizes Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism and African Diaspora spiritual frameworks. In my social practice, I serve as Co-Director for Honey and Smoke, a global artist community and platform focused on creating space for artists to meditate on the important themes of our time through themed seasons. Honey and Smoke explores these themes through new media and interactive digital content. 

 

I have shown my work in New York, San Francisco, Miami and London and have been covered by various publications such as the New York Times, Cultured Magazine, Mujerista, Artnet, Hyperallergic, and It’s Nice That Magazine amongst others. In 2018, I participated in the LSI Artist Residency in London, UK organized by the UCL Slade School of Fine Arts and the Camden Arts Center. I am currently an artist in residence for Zeal’s Studio Incubator Program in Inglewood, CA. Zeal is a creative agency and co-op creating spaces for Black Artists across the diaspora to thrive. Through Zeal, I also curated the exhibition Who Owns Black Art? in Miami during Art Basel 2019.


 

ARTIST STATEMENT

 

My art practice synthesizes Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism and African Diaspora spiritual frameworks. I grew up in the Dominican Republic and the South Bronx, and have lived in Salvador, Brazil. I practice Ifa, a Yoruba spiritual practice and system of divination. My diasporic understanding of the Black experience strongly influences my understanding of myself, the world, and my creative practice. In my work, I depict moments of revelation, self-understanding, identity politics, and gender through the use of African Diaspora symbology. The symbolism and imagery in my work stems from the natural environment and the spiritual, ancestral, and dream realms that make up my everyday life. 

 

My works are portraits in exterior settings. These sacred natural grounds are a place where I create homes for Black bodies that are often treated as “foreign”, “alien”, or of lesser importance. I exalt the natural environment by showcasing its divinity and my spirit's relationship to the complex ecosystems surrounding me. I place these characters outdoors in order to express introspection in open space, signaling at the necessity of freedom for true growth. Imagery in my work reflects personal dreams, memories, and spiritual experiences that have acted as clues to my self-discovery. I include imagery depicting my ancestors in order to showcase the role they play in my understanding of purpose and legacy. My color palettes come from sacred color combinations in Ifa. Color is connected to different Orisha (deities) as well as various energetic and natural forces. As such, color itself comes to life and enters conversation with other more personified elements. Different strokes of color become characters of their own having conversation with anthropomorphic figures in my work. 

 

My multimedia process begins with studies on my iPhone’s markup feature. I stretch a canvas, photograph it and sketch the work on top of the photo using markup. Afterwards, I paint on the canvas following the digital study, switching from digital to analog and vice versa. The process of moving through the digital and analog worlds physically reflects my relationship to the spiritual, ancestral, and dream realms that make up my everyday life. This is important to me because it shows their streamlined relationship. It shows me the way information can be transferred through different spaces, while still retaining its original energy. 

 

The sacred, spiritual environments reflected in my work are the grounds upon which I process and bring meaning to personal revelations, subconscious messages, and other spiritual information. In these energetic settings, the Black spirit isn’t arrested. The Black imagination and aesthetic thrive because these realms emit a frequency of freedom and healing. I aim to create works that showcase the wisdom and magic that nature and Black minds, bodies, and spirits are home to. This wisdom is a tool for self-actualization and protection. It is a tool for survival.

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