Siri Elena is a photographer and multimedia artist based out of the west coast. In June 2016 she graduated with a BA in Arts, Media, and Design (media arts emphasis) from DePaul University as well as a BFA in Theatre Arts from The Theatre School. Her work focuses on the idea of identity in the contemporary world and the comic potential of vulnerability drawing on inspiration from classical paintings, experimental theatre, and her own existential crises. She has worked as a photography intern with DePaul Art Museum, and done commissions with the Chicago Fringe Festival, Michael Silver & Co., Steve Turner Gallery LA, and Victory Gardens Theatre, among others.
I started making photos for the same reason I started working in theatre. I believe both mediums have the ability to make an audience think critically about their own lives by looking at the experiences of others. In my photography, I work most with the idea of identity—specifically how identity is malleable and confusing in a world where we each have curated identities for our personal, professional, and many online selves. I prefer working in series, allowing me to curate my own work to have its own identity.
In my photo series Body of Love, I take on how we feel about our own bodies in terms of our relationships, working with volunteer models and personal letters to create large-scale multimedia works that have traditional references in a modern context. With Homestead, color-centric digital photographs tackle the trouble of returning to a place that no longer feels like home, as I explore where I grew up with a deep-seated anxiety for past identities and collective small-town history.
As a visual artist who also works in the theatre, I find myself attracted to the relationship between directing for film and stage and collaborating with models in front of a camera. I draw inspiration from my theatrical work and the concept of existential comedy. Samuel Beckett and Anton Chekhov’s plays have a casual honesty to their characters that I try to produce in my photographs, and the rich environments of experimental film sets have been the primary catalyst to recent interest in installation work. In the visual world. I’m drawn to the brutally honest, personal, and funny drawings of Noelle Stevenson, Kate Leth, and the fascinating portraits of personal and familial identity of Christine McConnell.