devastation baby

Visual Art

Darn Nigh Hopeless

Seth Ellison

About the Artist: Seth D. Ellison is a Philadelphia-based painter and multimedia artist. He was born in Beckley, West Virginia in 1984, and lived mainly in the southern United States before moving to attend grad school. His formative years were spent compulsively drawing in preparation for a future career as a Walt Disney animator, a period in his life that deeply impacted the paintings he does today. Seth received his BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2009 and then an MFA from the University of the Arts in 2012, both with a concentration in painting and studio art. He has also studied graphic design at Concord University and was accepted into the SCAD Lacoste program. He has exhibited his work in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, among many other places.

Image 1

Artist Statement: My work reflects my own personal experiences in relation to my upbringing in the rural South. It is a place that has been relegated to the margins of American history and culture, a position that left me with a sharp awareness of my own identity and its connection to it. I revive and express the region’s struggles and contradictions, interweaving my own personal narrative within its sociological mythology. What emerges is darkly comedic and allegorical, composed of isolating landscapes that are inhabited by tragic and exploited figures uncovered from the recesses of the American psyche. My appropriative painting process leads me to draw from past art traditions, such as the 17th and 18th century European masters who gentrified agrarian landscapes. I then amalgamate these sources with mid-20th century American publications and memorabilia featuring derogatory depictions of Appalachians and Southerners. This hybridization of influences proposes an examination of American stereotypes, its limitations, and fears, permeated by an underlying yearning for transcendence. Instead of suppressing the inevitable outcome using these sources — the bucolic, nostalgic, and sentimental — I embrace and recontextualize them through my own contemporary vantage point, raking over the embers to see what still needs to be said.