Elise Dawson is a restless Canadian artist working across various mediums: photography, painting, performance, poetry, and video. Elise Dawson graduated from the School of Fine Art at the University of Manitoba in 2012 where they served as president of Students of Fine Art and was a founding member of Chesterfield Magazine, a freely distributed publication curated from emerging artist submissions. Since graduating, Elise Dawson has been employed within the film industry and commercial art galleries in Winnipeg and Toronto. Dawson is an active champion of their artistic community. They previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors at Mentoring Artist's for Women's Art and currently serves on their programming committee. They continue to work with local arts organizations such as CARFAC Manitoba, First Fridays Winnipeg and Creative Manitoba in the promotion of artists. Elise Dawson completed MAWA’s Foundation Mentorship program with Val Klassen as well as brief mentorships with Ming Hon (Performance) and Diana Thorneycroft (Bodies of Work). They presented a solo exhibition at Flux Gallery in 2016. In 2017, Elise Dawson completed a six-week artist residency in Puebla, Mexico which closed with a public performance on Día de Muertos, at Decentered Gallery. They were a 2017-2018 participant of ace.art.inc’s Cartae open school program when they published their first collection of poetry, “SEX DEATH AND/”, a raw examination of loss and desire. Currently, Dawson is a new media artist in residence at videopool.
I read once that every image is always two: the one you see, and the one you remember. My practice is driven by this tension, between remembering and forgetting– and the gaps in the construction and preservation of personal or collective memories. I remain fascinated that scientists have demonstrated that, as the years go by, much of what we think we remember is false. Every time we remember an event from the past, our brain networks change in ways that can alter the later recall of the event. Thus, the next time we remember, we might recall not the original event but what we remembered the previous time. Every memory is a new memory in its edification and translation through my practice. I am interested in producing paintings which are not static repositories of time but dynamic triggers of perception and emotion. Often, I work from my old snapshots, which can hook me into nostalgia, remorse, or longing. Sometimes, I appropriate another artist’s work– an action that I consider as part homage, part parody, and part investigation. My process is one of total engagement with a given image, while simultaneously making an intervention to reclaim it as my own. Like a game of telephone, I use strategies of repetition to find difference in my work. Through repetition, I am asking how images fall into parts of memory, both personal and collective, how personal and collective memory mingles and then separates again. Unlike a memory, a painting will not change itself as we observe it, but our perceptions of it will continually change as we relate what we know to what we see. Every one of my paintings is a new painting in its specific rendition and its subjective perception. I am absorbed by these echoes.