Elena Ray
'Shivpuri' by Shankar Barua

[check out Elena's Flash artworks]

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I achieve synapses and mental flow through creative devotion. I approach art as a religion and I a lay priestess. My prayers are visual. I contemplate nature and her forms, imagining hidden meaning in the shapes of bones and shells, sunsets and landscapes. I read holy texts (what I consider holy): Jung "Psychology and Alchemy", Marija Gimbutas "The Language Of The Goddess", Krishnamurti, Rumi, books along that line. I was raised a catholic but horses provided my childhood world-view with such freedom...being out in the desert, running long distances. Discovering Artemis as an adult was an epiphany for me. I embrace all the world-views and freely mix their metaphors in my work and find that the motifs of nature speak all languages.

I also write and collage in a personal journal I have been maintaining since adolescence. I originally considered myself a poet. At the age of 13 all this writing started and that activity has set the tone for my life ever since; self-examination. Now I examine the experiences of my life for hidden archetypal structures. When vague ideas for images are born in my mind I cultivate them in my journal with sketches and words, gather together people and props, and then make photographs. My primary image-making tool is the camera. I work with a medium format Mamiya RZ, 35mm Nikons, various Polaroids, handmade Pinholes, and especially now a Nikon Coolpix digital camera. Many of the images go through an organic mixed media process. This organic processing involves painting beneath and or on top of the printed images with acrylic, watercolor, pencil, etc. I print on and collage prints with handmade paper and other textural material. I finish the images, adding or refining the special effects in Photoshop.

These are photographs. I finish the images, adding or refining the special effects on Macintosh computers. Many of the images go through an organic mixed media process. The organic processing involves painting with acrylic, watercolor, pencil, etc. beneath or on prints and the collage of prints with handmade paper and other textural material. All the elements are fused in Photoshop resulting in a high-resolution digital file. Prints of the images are available as limited production Giclee prints made with pigmented Ultrachrome inks on 100% cotton rag paper.

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"Character Bowl" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
The characters are Happiness, Longevity, Fortune, and Wisdom. The ancient bowl represents the soul, the small platform is the "body" which supports it. The characters act as thoughts which are either rising out from, or falling down into the form. They are the symbols of ego. Red is the color of passion.


"Shamans Bowl" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
Smoke rises from an ancient cracked bowl, a symbolic illustration of the ephemeral spirit.


"Sunrise Bowl" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
The morning sunrise symbolically rises from an old bowl, the soul of earth.


"Flounder Nueroa" From the Immigrant series. Color Photograph
The shape, made from the black veil floating in the desert sky, is based on the concept that the Raven is a shape shifter. This abstract image is like Rorshac blot that resembles a dark fish, symbol of the unconscious mind. An ekphrastic poem was inspired by the image: ?How many nights before a fleet of these black Pisces flood out above the tank walls of your dream sea?... In your own bowl you will discover the ancient ships of immobile deserts. There is no captain... there is no crew... there is you.


"Libertina" Color Photograph
From the Immigrant series which can be viewed at www.elenaray.com.
This is an image about rebirth: "I have been afraid of the calamity for a thousand dreams now. But no more! I go forward towards this ultimate demise with a heart of wood doused in the octane of despair. Burn down this house, this wine stained temple, scarred by the flagellants worried tooth. Pull up by the roots all of the garden, toxic herbs twisting with confusion, trees crying bitter fruits, vegetables bitter and soft, unsuitable for even soup! By inner consultation I have been appointed to the constellations-my spaceship an energy which must rocket out from this museum of efforts, a library of failure of which I will no longer be steward. I will be the phoenix who rises from the charred bones of the prison..."


"Lizard" Color Photograph
From the Immigrant series. The performer in this series, Beverly Snow, plays three parts which are all part of herself; the veiled woman, the woman in a red dress, and the masculine suited devil. Annotation/Poem:..."Do you really think I worry about my shallow satisfactions out here on the Lizard King's plantation? Should I spit out my teeth before our kiss? Are you anxious that you?ll not be missed?" This image is another version of Little Red riding Hood. It is an image about rape and our inner shadow persona who devours our passion.


"The Dreamer" Color Photograph
From the Immigrant series which can be viewed in it's entirety at www.elenaray.com. Part of a poem that begins: "The edge of the dream is where the river goes under..." She dreams of peace, wrapped in the veil of darkness, repression...She has not the freedom to do anything but dream.


"Two Shadows" Color Photograph
From the Immigrant series. The raven is a noted trickster in mythology. This is an image about the shadow self, an embracing of it, a dancing with it, yet still an inability to integrate it. And so projections and denial become even more subtle. A poem accompanies this image: "She pursues me... It is my very soul she craves... and to be me... as her... To pour my center in her mold.... To have my mold to hold her center... I am clever... I keep my shadow shifting... contorted, distorted... I am not afraid to frighten... I can dance with devils... who delight in her torment!!!! they dearly love to thrill me... an angel in their midst."


"The Clay Pot" Toned Black and White Photomontage
From the "Safara" series. A contemplative woman photographed on a remote dry lake-bed in the Mojave desert, a place that seems to breathe with a meditative emptiness. We wanted to create an image illustrating a woman's inherent connection to the planet, that she was of the earth, and that it was her essential self. The photomontage was made in camera. On a tripod the lake-bed was photographed, then the film was backed up in the camera and she was photographed on the same section of film, creating perfect registration of cracked earth blending into her figure.


"Guardian Of The Gate" Toned black and white photograph
From the "Safara" series. To protect ourselves we must sometime feign terrifying qualities. It is naive to believe that the world is a nothing but a kind and gentle place-we must protect, fight if necessary. But it would be best to simply frighten off the threat and theatrics are of great help in this. On psychic terms this protector maintains a vigilance against the lies and manipulations that could damage our sense of well being and ability to function at our highest potential. Every woman needs one. In our culture though fierceness in not prized in women.


"Mirages In Her Soul" Toned Black and White Photograph
From the "Safara" series. Entering the river, this image tells the story of entering into one?s own unconscious realm, the spiritual realm. Water represents the unconscious. If understood archetypally baptism is a conscious entering into the mysterious realm of God. She is trepidatious as rebirth into the world of gnosis is no light matter. Elena Ray Archetypal Images Of Women Photography and Photo Based Mixed Media Image


"Moth" Black and White Image Series
From the "Safara" series. Photographed in the mojave desert as night fell. A skeleton like woman drawn to ecstatic worship of fire and light. Annotation: "Out here night fulfills the promise of darkness... so who can blame another for their fetish of light..? We don't know how far in the blackness it is until the next fire oasis... a farness which contains those things unseen..."


"The Sunbride" Toned Black and White Photograph
From the ?Safara? series. The mind and the sun unite in a moment of illuminated experience on the sands of eternity. Photographed on the Ibex dunes in Death Valley. The dunes are remote and pristine, a perfect place for a marraige of light and awareness.


"Ancient Nature" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
An old barren tree looks out from a knot in it's bark, a mystical and sorrowful eye that possesses strange magic from ancient times.


"Ancient Wine" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
The ancient vision, represented by the eye in the illumination pyramid, weeps blood which spills into her breast. She is holding up a cup which is an icon of life and she is passionate, angry, and unwilling to let go. She is a crone, an older woman, and she knows that passive reflection will not rectify lost dreams.


"The Bird Madonna" Photomontage
This image consists of two photographs. The female figure holding the nest was photographed in the studio against a black background. The wing was photographed on a board which I had painted black with light grey tones, which gives the image it?s painterly quality. Photo montage is a good tecnique for exploring memory and time. Through the blending of multiple images we see the elapsing experience of her creative endeavor. She is wearing a white feathered gown, a suggestion that she too is bird, a white dove, symbol of peace.


"Butterfly Bride" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
The butterfly symbolizes many things: transformation, spirituality, inspiration, the whims of the soul. It seems to whisper these things into her ear. She is in the garden, like Eve, but it is a desert garden beyond the borders of Eden, beyond childhood. Yet she is calm, like a buddha, at one with her state of being. Her skin has a bluish hue, like a hindu goddess. She is a culturally mixed unique being, newly released from the chrysalis of innocence.


"Change" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
A fallen leaf changes it's spring time green to autumn red. The changing leaf symbolizes the life cycle.


"Epiphany Of Cosmic Consciousness" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
Epiphany Of Cosmic Consciousness illustrates a moment of being connected in all ways to all things..the universe. It is a psychospiritual experience I?ve heard many people speak of, that passes all too quickly yet leaves it?s experiencer dazzled. The white horse in the image is symbolic of purity, strength; all the virtuous energy in us that heroically bears our passage. The feathers are a metaphorical reference to the flight of the soul.


"Fertility" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
She is holding an abundance of eggs (she collected them from all kinds of chickens and ducks at a local ranch she was caretaking) in a wooden bowl that represents her womb. The collage element to her right alludes to the shape of a vessel. The look in her eyes is love, joy.


"Gnosis" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
A mystical sunflower shaman listens carefully to a small bird perched on his hand. This is an earth based image which tells the story of an organic communication that was shared by all things living in a primordial world.


"Handmaiden For Kali" Color Photograph
Kali, blood thirsty Hindu goddess, sleeps, but her guardianess maintains the vigil. Like a gargoyle on the gate this image "protects".


"Hidden Artemis" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt. She is a virgin goddess, and rules the forest. She is the archetype of the wild feminine. "I am the hidden Artemis...Secrets are my language... I run the nymphs from the 5th moon... My voodoo butterflys hunt crystal rivers in mudra forests... Thought becomes me, stealth transforms me into temple bells... Your heart is beating, I can feel it... Pounding drum, breezes stirring, parrots calling, snakes uncoiling, arrows flying, YOU are falling." To be hunted by Artemis is an honor.


"Illuminated Nest" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
A birds nest with eggs is revered and nourished by the life giving sun pouring from a liquid blue sky.


"The Inquisitive Little Night Creature" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
A barn owl directs his preternatural night time gaze at the viewer. His wing resembles a vampires cloak...Owls have a long history, from virtually every culture, as mythological symbols and omens both good and evil.


"The Origins Of Taboo" Black and White Photograph
Many people ask me if this a photomontage? It is not. It is a straight black and white photograph captured in a preternatural moment. The concept was to express a metaphoric embrace between humanity and primordial nature. The wings symbolize the heart in it's eternal desire for flight as the hawk's scream expresses the protective spirit of the lover. This is nature crying out that it wishes to enfold us in it's mysteries.


"Phoenix Rising Color" Photograph
The forest is burnt, all is lost but the promises of water. The story of the Phoenix, a bird who rose from the ashes, is a parable for perseverance, for survival, a story that reminds us of our potential for rebirth. Kayla, the dancer in this image, was the choreographer for a Las Vegas review. She relished the chance to perform in something more meaningful.


"Stone Circle" Toned Black and white Photo
Still life study of stones in a circular infinity. Circle is a symbol of wholeness, completeness.


"Temple Hands" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
Hands reaching up and forming a temple shape.


"The Heroine Who Had Committed A Great Crime" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
She is nude; vulnerable. She is in the fetal position; protective. She covers her face; shame, fear. She is painted; impure...beautiful! She is beneath us; we look down on her. How many women in history, and in this global community, are this wounded heroine simply due to their circumstance of being a woman?
"We cannot overlook the fact that there is still much thieving and hamstringing of women's talents through cultural restriction and punishment of her natural and wildish instincts." Clarissa Pinkola Estes "Women Who Run With The Wolves"


"The Secrets Of Paradise Dream In You Soul" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
The subject of "Secrets of Paradise..." is the guide of the soul who in jungian terms is called the "anima"vulnerability. She is the angel, the heroine, the goddess who shines through the psychological darkness like a bright sky beckoning the beholder to follow their dream, risk the passage, and at all costs continue the quest. The adorning Peacock feather is symbolic of royalty and potency. In alchemy the peacock is cousin to the Phoenix, the mythical bird who rises from the ashes. The central theme of the image is the feminine eye, focused, a visionary awareness that resides in the human psyche.


"The Sky's Desire" Color Photograph
Sleeping bypasses the normal restrictions that the conscious mind places on thought. In this image who is dreaming; the bird, the woman, or us? This is a vignette of desire, to be held unaccountable yet to experience the rapture of an untamed sexuality and an unfettered existence. Her nudity represents vulnerability, and it is what binds her to nature. The winged wild beast, a powerful predator, watches, yet seems ever aware of the tenuous moment. And like most erotic dreams, he will fly away at the slightest disturbance.


"The Sky Shepherdess" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
Innocence, hope and naive trust in magic... I am faulted for such sentimental images, but they are in me, so I think even I have something left untouched! This image was photographed on a clay hill in the Mojave desert where I once lived. The girl was my next door neighbor and inspired this image. She just looked so wholesome, angelic and sturdy. I think maybe she did ride the stars.


"The Violinist" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
An old musician laughingly cradles his yellow violin in an evening of whirling stars. He is pure joy in his love for life and the moment.


"The Transfiguration Of The Bride" Color Photograph
The Transfiguration Of The Bride. This image of fire in the heart chakra illustrates the erotic awakening spirit of woman.


"Unrealized Pasts Are Heard Here" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
She is a fallen angel. Caught in a moment of un-time, limbo...like weightless fluff, a person of no substance. Yet she has not hit ground, bottom. She has blown into dead branches which represent a purgatory of the spirit. The bluish color of the image casts a deathliness on her plight. Yet through strange grace possibilities still exist...


"Upward Looking Fallen Angel" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
A man holds up his fallen wings behind his back, looking towards the sky. He asks the question; can one return to a state of bliss? The objects in space around him are fragments of reality from his metaphysical angel self as it breaks apart.


"We Are The Illumination Keepers" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
Light releases from a woman's mind. Indigo blue is the color of the chakra located in the 3rd eye forehead area. This image is a reminder that it is we who are animated with prana, that same brilliant life force that the yogis use to access higher consciousness.


"Zen Path" Photo Based Mixed Media Image
From a lovely japanese garden a stone path crosses over a small creek.
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Reverse Interlude
Excerpts From The Personal Journal of an Obscure Female American Artist Ending 2/29/04

2/29/04
I am an extraordinary person...going through the wreckage, trying to salvage what is worth salvaging and to know the difference. Some parts are obvious; swiss cheese, paper turned to mud...other parts aren't so obvious...I feel both grateful and saddened by what was lost and what was saved. So much was saved! So much was lost!! There was a lot!!! I have been a prolific writer.By the mid 90's my poetry was actually worth reading-how unfortunate that it faded out of my life just about that time. Gawd my early teen poems are mostly pretty bad...saved a lot of those.

2/28/04
Part of me has ceased to exist.
How could I have known?
What was eating me away thrived in a secret darkness
hidden from me.

Lost. At least ten of my journals, another ten damaged profoundly, all early works. Lost to termites. Lost to my carelessness.

VOID-
a place where no light illuminates, no energy activates.

2/21/04
Dream Fragment
Frodo. When he proclaims his last lie the door accepts the key and swings open. It is a modern "card" key. Behind the door lies some important musical instrument (a piano or an organ).

2/15/04
I am me now. Even poverty cannot separate me from my true identity. I paint. I poet. I am the mystical recorder of profound secrets.

I don't court poverty. I dream of abundance, freedom, pleasure and happiness.

Not to live my life as dictated by FEAR this week...not to allow poverty to infect my imagination which is being sent down into the holiest of magical caverns beneath the sea with access only from the desert; a secret place protected by vicious copper and turquoise adorned Javalinas. On the lizards back I shall be escorted by prismatic ravens down to the sacred chamber.

1/30/04
This morning, decent privacy followed by fresh baked cornbread and FEAR. Fear will not help me on this quest. Yoga. Bunny in a box. Fear is a stupidity breeding ground. I am a spiritual warrior. I am angry today. SO ANGRY...being ignored by the industry...keep trying so fucking hard. Everyday working for NOTHING.

1/19/04
PROTEUS.
The medium I work in can be so insecure...it has no body. It can assume almost any form though but it's essence is light reduced to mathematics, and that lies on a little computer chip, a coffin of sorts with a living inhabitant>>>>>>The (biblical) Guff w/ a soul waiting to take form.

1/14/04
I rescued a quail from Cleo today...chased her until she let go of it, and it flew off.Will it survive it's injuries? Don't know. At least it was not eaten alive by my murderess.

11/17/2003
Who am I? Hello, shouldn't there be a sign? On the outside it's obvious. On the inside it's all code.

I crave the aloha kiss.

As an artist I am caving in on myself. There is little appreciation. There is much craving...people who want to devour...

11/10/2003
I am the mudra. I am the art in america. I am clarity and intuition. I am the beacon of a helping hand. I am spinach and chive jive. I am the movement. I am marketing the handbook of essential knowledge. I am zig zagging courses of sequential spaces. I am alternating between community and natural light. I am anxious of tight urban site. I am illuminating untitled moments.

11/6/2003
I dreamt about hawks last night. There was a man in one dream who knew so much about hawks. Junior jumped up and fed from his gloved fist willingly. The man fed him a perfect little yellow butterfly.

11/2/2003
So much of who I am is in wanting to possess. Ego. I want to possess the beauty and the spirit of the hawk. This is the overpowering aspect of my relationship with the captive wild bird. Other parts of me are truly caring and admiring. I witness the selfish and egotistical aspects of my personality, as well as the nurturing observant qualities, while I interact w/her. Impatience is always the first sign of ego.

10/22/2003
Last night a person sized Robin made love to me, his red breast was like a balloon.

10/15/2003
The desert
the change to underground
the river is still warm
but this golden morning the heron
stays closer to the shadow
and contemplates
the spin of the earth.

9/16/03
I thought that because I was different that things would be different for me. I misunderstood the tenants of survival.

~
Elena Ray
Fine Art Photography
3411 Rosser Road
Ajo, AZ 85321
USA

e-mail: elena@elenaray.com
wwweb: www.absolutearts.com/elenaray