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Talking with Women of Wonder: Elaine R Defibaugh

In celebration of Women’s History Month, SHOWFIELDS wanted to take this moment in time to highlight the female founders and artists who are pushing the envelope with mission-based topics that resonate most with our community. We like to refer to them as our Women of Wonder or “WOW.” This week we will be sharing an interview with with artist Elaine R Defibaugh.

Introducing Artist, Elaine R Defibaugh

What motivated/inspired you to start creating, thus beginning your journey as an artist?

ED: I was motivated to create art work when I was 5 years old. I was born with a congenital heart disease. As a result, I was home from school a lot. Like any 5 year old ,ill or not, I would get bored. We had a big closet in our bedroom which I used as my studio. I would go in there for hours and experiment. One of my first experiments was putting paint on children's blocks. That was my first attempt at printmaking. This discovery was the foundation of my creative inspiration, which has driven me throughout my lifetime.

As a female artist, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?

ED: I would say that the most significant barrier in being a female artist is to be recognized in a world of art dominated by men. I don’t have a problem with men, however I do question their continued recognition & credibility before a female. This was especially true earlier on in my career. My paintings are abstract and influenced by the abstract expressionists. Female artists such as Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning & Grace Hartigan dealt with this throughout their lifetime. Artists such as Louise Bourgeois & Georgia O’Keeffe also struggled with this issue. However, they managed to break out of that mold and paved a way for artists such as Judy Chicago. On a silly note, being short doesn't help, especially when I like creating large works.

What was your inspiration for Mysterious Flow and/or "Don't Harvest Here" featured on Showfields' website?

ED: The pieces “Mysterious Flow” and “Don’t Harvest Here” were inspired by my interest in sea plants and the restoration of coral. I began working on the series “Coral on the Verge” in 2017. I started with visits to the Frost Museum of Science and began taking photographs of the display tanks. My work has always been inspired by nature in particular with shadows of fauna and foliage. These two works were the plants of the sea. They are elegant and possess an ethereal yet strong quality much like women do. To me these plants look as if they are holding their heads up high and facing any danger that may encounter during their lives in the sea. You will also notice that I evolved these photographs adding fluorescent markers to bring the sea plants to life and strengthen their identity. Funny answering this question reveals a deeper part of myself, my inspiration, necessity and desire to continue to challenge myself creatively.

What is your dream project?

ED: You may think this is silly, however my dream project has always been to create art live in front of an audience at Carnegie Hall. That has been my dream since I was a child. I love for my work to be seen and that’s why I continue to create installations such as the “Nite Dive” elevator that I was commissioned to do by Showfields in Miami.

What role do you believe the artist has in society?

ED: I feel that a visual artist needs to use the one thing that separates us from other creatives. That is how we convey our visual experiences creatively and transform it into a story/world that viewers can immerse themselves in. It’s important for artists to show as much about the world that touches them regardless of its beauty or ugliness.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female artists?

ED: My advice is do not accept the word NO. We are better than that. Keep on creating regardless of any obstacles that may come your way. Keep challenging yourselves and embrace your God given purpose in life.

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