To view all works available by Heidi Elbers visit artsy. Connecting with my cultural heritage as a Louisiana native, I paint what I know and that is a celebration of artful dress influenced by the elaborate costumes of Mardi Gras but with a reductive sense of elegance and style. My mother grew up in the bayou as a daughter of a fur trapper, while my father’s mother was raised in the world of elaborate balls and social soirées. I marry these two worlds in the costumes I create for my muses, close friends and acquaintances that fit my own personal aesthetic. Pieced together from lingerie and fur pieces, laced and beaded, stitched and glued, the outfits I create transforms them into mythological gods and goddesses or a tribe, if you will, of superior beings that escape the blemishes of everyday trials and tribulations. My grandmother used to say, “You can’t feel bad if you look pretty,” an adage that I embrace in my creations. Fur, feathers and foliage bring a natural element of something more elemental, connecting these very civilized beings to more fundamental origins, elevated by beauty and a sense of innate self-possession. From photographs taken in my studio, I translate these mirages of celestial beauty in oil on paper and canvas in an alla prima style that some interpret as watercolor at first glance. There is a quiet stillness that allows the viewer to observe them, often in a moment of self-reflection. Even when the model gazes outwards, it is as if they are gazing inwards, into a mirrored image that contains their thoughts and adds an element of mystery. All that glistens is not gold, but with paint, brush and imagination, for a moment, I escape into a world of beauty that outshines ordinary or austere reality and gives each cloud a thread of silver lining.
I am influenced from growing up in New Orleans. Connecting with my cultural heritage, I combine elements from the mystic of the bayou and elegance of Mardi Gras.