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Like most of us, the artist is deeply connected to, and concerned about, the natural world which resonates on emotional and spiritual levels. Entomologist Edward O. Wilson has coined the word ‘biophilia’ to describe his hypothesis of humankind’s affinity for the natural world which, he feels, is innately coded within our DNA. He calls nature “the refuge of the spirit, remote, static, richer even than human imagination.”

The artist found her calling in her early forties when she moved from the city to the Southern Tier in New York State, surrounded by dense woodlands, stone walls, abandoned apple orchards and a diversity of wildlife. After years of living, working and commuting in Brooklyn and Manhattan at various non-profits and corporations, including outpatient mental health centers and the Brooklyn Hospital Center, her dream was to move to the country. It was the solitude and quiet that first allowed her to paint (Biophilia) in a small upstairs bedroom of a little farmhouse at the top of a winding, dead-end dirt road. Living in the woods she had found her utopia.

And now, returning to a daily art practice after running a brick and mortar gallery on Beacon’s Main Street for six years (theoganzstudio.com), the artist’s current work explores the connection between memory and forgetting; nostalgia and acceptance. Girl by the Sea and Guardian Series are both inspired by the discovery of a photograph of the artist taken by her mother when the family was in Étretat in 1959. Eleni was not quite 7 years old. Girl by the Sea initially plays off this one image in smaller sketches (15 x 15 inches) in ink, oil and graphite, celebrating a-more-often-than-not idyllic childhood where summers were spent in the northern wilderness of Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan in the 1960s.

The larger Girl by the Sea/Guardian Series (51 x 32 inches) jettisons the peripheral details of the memorialized Étretat photograph and brings the “girl” holding the bird front and center. Working through the losses and grievances inherent in one’s personal history, the artist has achieved a tension between the past – in the thread work and “sewing” – and the cathartic qualities of letting go, if not forgetting.