31 Women

HER Extinct Series - 31  Women

ELENA ZOLOTNISKY: HER (Extinct Series)

Oil on mylar mounted to panel  
13.5 x 15.5 in

Elena Zolotnisky grew up in Moscow. Her father worked as a freelance illustrator and a set designer at a Moscow Movie Studio. Encouraged to draw and paint, Zolotnisky became serious about art and attended VGIK (All State Institute of Cinematography). Majoring in the Art of Animation, her culminating project at graduation was a ten-minute hand animation movie titled From 9am to 6pm. Zolotnisky was the creative director, and both the director and the screen writer were women. The movie is about one day in the life of a woman architect juggling the demands of her creativity, career and family. It was groundbreaking because they were the first all-women’s creative team and it was one of the first animations made with adults in mind. The movie is still shown in Russia, often around March 8th, International Women’s Day. Zolotnisky notes that the celluloid, the transparent plastic sheets that were used as a surface for painting and drawing animation, are still a part of her practice today. She currently works with oil on a variety of supports but favors mylar/celluloid as it is the hardest to control, super slick surface. She finds these materials very challenging and engaging, keeping her totally focused. Zolotnisky’s day starts with a 10 mile walk around Lake Merritt in Oakland. She explains “when I do not have that walk my whole day is thrown off. It clears my head, I can daydream about the day ahead and think about my new projects.” Her practice has changed with a deepening of her understanding of her own painting. For many years she found her paintings to be very controlled, perhaps because of the editorial illustration she was working on, or because she was still trying to “find” herself. Now she refers to this earlier body of work as “coloring between the lines”. Gradually after a period of ups and downs, creative blocks, and moving thirty years into her career, she understands her painting. She understands how to make it alive, change and grow. Inspirations shift, though she does get inspired by faces live or in photos. She admires a strong point of view, craft, a deep understanding of the media, a voice, a vulnerability, a mystery. She states “those revelations make my day. They tweak my creativity in this or that way, very slightly. They stay with me on my early morning walks.” A female role model from history is Hellen Keller and her role models from present days are some of her girlfriends. “They live in different parts of the world. Some of them have been having a very hard life—poor health, insufficient funds, but they keep it together. They persevere. They grow old as I do. They have their problems, but they never give up. They inspire me.”

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