Chana Wiesenthal Elias

Contact Info



Artist Statement

My primary interest lies in exploring the relationships between time and place as they relate to memory, cultural identity, and the concepts of “self” and “other”. For me, art making is an exploration of the duality of our existence and the synchronicity and intersect of those experiences. My mentor, Jan Groover, told me years ago that good picture making happened when the artist “knew something” – when the looking and gaze was deliberate and conveyed meaning. It was an astounding statement coming from an artist recognized as a master of formalism. I learned photography as an art of “making” not “taking” images.

As an artist I had the privilege to pursue graduate studies at Bard College in an atmosphere that valued dialogue across multiple disciplines. My work was nurtured under the watchful gaze of my mentors Ken Irby (poet), Nicholas Maw (composer), Adolfas Mekas (filmmaker), Peter Hutton (filmmaker), Archie Rand (painter), Christine Berl (composer), and Elie Yarden (composer). I was greatly influenced by the works of Heidegger, Derrida, Walter Benjamin and Baudrillard. The rejection of a singular point of view led to my art work being informed by personal experience and vision as well as cultural, and historical constructions.
Photography is neither about technical skill nor visual acuity. It is a tool for creating a visual paradigm for the most basic comprehension of the world and our place in it.

Life is about process and photographic art permits a visual system of signage to describe that process. Art cannot be made by only learning about art. Photography cannot be taught in an institution dedicated only to the visual.

After graduate school I worked in my studio in NYC, exhibited and sold my work. After some time I found the conventional boundaries of the postmodern “art world” stifling in it's repetition and focus – the constant self reference and dismissal of Other. I chose to create a family and I have parented five children.

Goethe wrote,

“The beginning of the end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by the means of the world that is in me. All things being grasped, related, recreated, loaded, and reconstructed in a personal form, in an original manner.”

I believe that the same holds true for visual activity/art. Visual art can only be imagined and created if one understands, knows, or can even acknowledge the presence of the original. In my forty-seven years of life I have learned much about the original; about both my inner and outer worlds and the interplay between the two. My photography and method for “teaching” about photography is informed by and synthesizes many perspectives and allows for the interplay of personal experience, cultural memory, and social identity.

I am dedicated to the task of looking. It is my desire to encourage others to look as well - to experience my visioning; a creation of a personal aesthetic integrating the narrative of both “self” and “world”.

Chana Wiesenthal Elias, 1.7.2016

Artist Bio

Artist Website
IG: Chana.we

Bard College, Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

SUNY College at Purchase, School of Art+Design, Purchase, NY


ARTFTL18, Ft.Lauderdale, FL
Garland Gallery, Binghamton, NY
Artserve Gallery, Ft.Lauderdale, FL
Tedd's Artworks,Ft.Lauderdale,FL
Midtown Y Photo Gallery, NY, NY
Blum Gallery, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
National Arts Club Gallery, NY, NY
Visual Arts Gallery, SUNY Purchase, Purchase, NY
HallWalls Gallery, Buffalo, NY


*Art Instructor/Curriculum Development,
Ateres High School, Airmont, NY
*HEOP Summer Program Art Instructor
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
*Teacher’s Assistant-Photography
SUNY Purchase, College of Art+Design, Purchase, NY
*Teacher’s Assistant-Design
SUNY Purchase, College of Art+Design, Purchase, NY
*Director of Film and Photography
Shire Village Camp, Cummington, MA


Freelance Photography and Graphic Design

Book Designer, American Express Publishing, NY, NY

Editorial Work Scholar, Aperture Publishing, NY, NY