Bold in color, vivid visions, piercing in nature. Thought-provoking, discussion-inducing themes with a highly political edge. As a classically schooled artist graded and judged for her technique, Washington D.C. resident and full-time painter, Dana Ellyn, has taught herself to let go of all inhibition.
Paintings, big and small, hang high and low around Dana’s studio; each painting cries-out a personal and global message. Dana’s electrifying paintings challenge the mind, public perception, and the organized institutions upon which our collective and individual ideals are placed.
Some of Dana’s paintings may seem singular in theme, but looking at the details, letting your mind churn, she combines and connects themes on everything from government, politics, religion, gun control, culture, marriage, animals, the food industry, and more.
“My work doesn’t appeal to everyone, but my paintings are supposed to make you feel uncomfortable,” Dana says with a smile. Dana loves engaging in heavy discussions with people and answering tough questions from her audience.
For example, Dana’s horse-slaughter themed painting, The Awful Truth (with Dom Perignon), has inspired many intense conversations. Dana’s artistry hits the viewer just as Dana wants it to: To make people think and be conscious.
Not everyone is receptive to Dana’s confrontational paintings. For example, her meat-free themed painting, Deli, which startlingly interprets the reality of the Asian dog and cat meat-trade, was removed from an exhibit because exhibit coordinators thought the work was insensitive to and might offend the multi-cultural student body.
As a vegetarian who has traveled the world extensively, Dana is extremely aware of and sensitive toward meat-related customs in foreign countries as well as meat-related issues in the United States.
“The food industry is fascinating to me,” says Dana, who has been working diligently on her meat-free themed series paintings, Playing With Your Food and Look Me In the Eye and Tell Me I’m Delicious. Her meat-free artwork is an extremely important and personal issue.
“I’ve had meat issues since I was a kid,” Dana says. “In our home, there was never an option to not eat meat. I continuously got in trouble for dissecting my dinner.”
Revolted at the look of uncooked meat and disgusted with the texture of cooked meat, young Dana eventually made the connection between raw, bleeding meat and the flesh of once living animals.
Finally, when Dana met and married independent full-time Washington, D.C. artist, Matt Sesow, she became a full-fledged vegetarian, just like Matt.
Like all of Dana’s razor-edge art, her meat-free art collection, begins with silence. “I read books on my subjects. I will think and stew. Sit in different places around the studio,” Dana says of her creative process. She will jot down a couple of keywords and phrases and make some scribbly, very primitive sketches.
“My paintings may not materialize the way I thought they would. Sometimes, I make last minute additions here and there, but I am very happy with the results,” Dana says.
“I’ve come to like the shock value of my art, but I do have a line I will not cross. I come-up with ideas I will not paint,” Dana explains. “Sometimes the subjects bum me out and I’ll paint a nicer version and vision.”
In the end, Dana is pleased to paint what she calls, “a public service announcement with an ounce of awareness.” Dana’s activist art grabs your attention and will definitely inspire a philosophical discussion and possibly a heated debate.
Dana Ellyn is the featured artist at the Anti-Fur Society Animal Rights Conference, May 31 to June 2, 2013, in Alexandria, Virginia.
Register for the Anti-Fur Society Animal Rights Conference, May 31 to June 2, 2013, at the Sheraton Suites in Old Town Alexandria, 801 N Saint Asaph Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314.
Read the speaker biographies at the 2013 Anti-Fur Society Animal Rights Conference.
Visit Dana Ellyn’s extensive art gallery on the web and follow Dana Ellyn on Facebook.