Artist Ess. Too Deep for Anchors.

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may. 11. 2022

Too Deep for Anchors.

Words by artist Steff Elisa.

“When I was born I donned a spacesuit for living on this plane, it was this body, my spacesuit, and it had a steering mechanism whis is my pre-frontal lobe and all the brain that helps with coordinating and stuff. Just like those others who go to the moon and learn how to use their spacesuit…how to grab things and lift things so I learned how to do that.And then you get rewarded with little stars, kisses and all kinds of things when you learn how to use your spacesuit. You get so good at it that you can’t differentiate yourself from your spacesuit.” -Ram Dass

To be completely candid, I started out making art using astronauts and sea divers simply because i liked how it looked. One of the first pieces I made, “Too Deep for Anchors” (pictured below), places a deep sea diver in outer space. I liked the dichotomy, two opposing subject paired together. I got an outstanding response from many, some asking for canvas prints, others for t-shirts and apparel. The image gained more attention than I ever would have imagined, so I ran with it. By now it’s become, well, my “thing.”

Mostly, people tell me the images make them feel something. More than often, I’m asked, “Why I’m just so sad! The astronauts and divers seem so heartbroken, so lonely!”

I’m not sad. I’m not heartbroken or lonely. I, of course, have experienced all of these feelings. I am also always that people are more inclined to seek out art (in any form) when they are experiencing a stretch of time sitting in emotions such as these. I believe it is incredibly important to have a space -a song, a poem, an image – to lose one’s self in when feeling this way. To know that somewhere in space and time there was someone else that felt similar to you, maybe exactly like you! To have that basic human connection through a piece of art is profound.

I love hearing that people feel something when viewing my art. Comments on the visual elements are secondary. I am much more interested to know the art evokes raw feeling and emotion. This segways to the next question people ask, a little less often than I’d like.

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This piece featured in Artwalk Magazine Issue 02 and this is the page it was shown on.

“Why the astronauts? Why the sea divers? Why the faceless suits?”

I enjoy these questions. They afford me the opportunity to ask the asker, “Why do you think? What makes most sense to you?” And through their answers, I get to learn a little about them and where they are in life. People always place themselves into the suits and, in turn, relate to the characters and surroundings with ease. The reason; anonymity.

Anonymity allows the viewer to step freely into the scene. Attaching a face to artwork mostly separates the viewer from that face. The viewer is one being, the face in the art, another. It makes good sense. As humans, we first see things from our own viewpoints. Strip away the face and now the viewer can become the main character. Instantaneously, the viewer is connected to the work of art. Just like lyrics to a song, we derive our own meanings that connect to our life experiences, and that’s what gives music and art this powerful ability to move us. To connect with us. And to allow us to feel connected with something much greater than what and who we are.

Music moves me. Each piece I make is musically and lyrically driven. The idea usually starts with a song or quote that takes up residence in my head and manifests, ultimately, as one of these artworks. Their titles are often titles to songs, or pieces of lyrics in them. None of the images are forced. They come to life when they no longer fit inside this headspace. What a wonderful gift for me that I get to share this with whoever cares to see it.

I was initially asked to do this article and talk on my process, how I actually create these images. I’m a digital artist with a background in fine art and graphic design. I use original photography, found images, and photo manipulation. I print on canvas and apparel to keep cost down so that anyone can justify their decision to purchase and own a piece of art they connect to, rather than taking a snapshot of it because it was “just too expensive.” But I’d like to retain a bit of anonymity here, myself. It doesn’t much matter how I create these pieces, or what programs or technology I use. It doesn’t matter what I look like, or the story I’ve personally linked to any one of my images. It’s not even what any one person specifically feels from this art, or any art. What actually matters is that art exists. That you, the reader and viewer, feel something. Whatever that something is.

We are all simply little spacesuits, living, breathing, and hopefully feeling – as many things as we are able. Learn how to use your spacesuit. Take it on endless adventures. Allow it to connect with other spacesuits, and reap the beautiful rewards that come your way. But also learn how to differentiate; yourself from your spacesuit. We can retain anonymity, if we so choose, and still be vulnerable and relatable. So, every now and again, take off the helmet and share your story with a few good ones. Let others see you – unique and as you are – and share your story in the best way you know how.