Elena Sisto

Elena Sisto

Fellow: Awarded 2013
Field of Study: Fine Arts

Competition: US & Canada

School of Visual Arts, New York City

In her paintings Elena Sisto uses the structuring ideas of abstraction to mine content that relates to her interest in how people define their own identity and present themselves.

The combination of abstract means and figurative content often results in imagery that has a simplified or slightly cartoonish cast. Sisto uses the economy of cartooning language to access emotion directly and to keep the image functioning on a structural level both in terms of form and content. This way she bypasses a more anecdotal approach.

She aims to invest the paintings with the real weight of experience, but keep the figures emblematic. A character in Sisto’s world is a persona rather than a person. Her content-development process fluctuates between the pop culture/social (signified by the abstracted language of cartoon) and the personal (signified by elements of realism). There’s a touch of cubism as well. She finds an interiority through fracturing and simultaneity, seeking to avoid using a specific narrative to spell things out.

Sisto’s current work centers around the artist’s experience of being in the studio, and the passage into adulthood of young women artists. Her characters are an invented hybrid of fiction and reality. They are images of women as workers, thinkers, and creators. In creating them she has been much influenced by the students she teaches at the School of Visual Arts.

Sisto has had nineteen one-person shows, including at the Maier Museum in Lynchburg, Virginia; the Katzen Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Greenville County Museum, Greenville, south Carolina; and the Miami Dade College of Art + Design, Miami, Florida.

She exhibited work in the 43rd Biennial of Contemporary Painting at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C. and numerous group shows throughout the U.S.

She’s been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants, fellowships to Yaddo, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Millay Colony, the Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant, a Hand Hollow Foundation Fellowship and scholarships to the New York Studio School, the Skowhegan School, and the Yale Norfolk Program. Sisto received the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts 183rd Invitational Inglish Griswold Nelson Prize in painting.

Her work has been written about or reviewed in the New York Times, Arts Magazine, Art in America, Art News, Modern Painters, Art Forum, the Orange County Register, the Newark Star-Ledger, the New Art Examiner, Review Magazine, the Boston Globe, the L.A. Times, Art Journal, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among others.

Her work has been included in numerous public and private collections.

She organized and moderated a panel for the College Art Association on drawing and has taught at the School of Visual Arts (since 1997), Columbia University, Rhode Island School of Design, the New York Studio School, The Yale Norfolk summer program, and the Chautauqua Institution. She’s been a visiting artist at about thirty-five art schools, colleges, and universities.

Sisto is newly affiliated with Lori Bookstein Fine Arts where she will be presenting her first exhibit entitled Between Silver Light and Orange Shadow, which will be on view from April 25th through June 1st, 2013.


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