Biography

Elyse Defoor is an artist and curator based in Atlanta who responds to the wonders and tragedies in this world. Her drawings and paintings, sculpture and photography along with her large scale installations have gained international recognition.

In 2008, Defoor’s series “X.U.ME” was presented as a solo exhibition at the Alexandria Museum of Art in Louisiana. X.U.ME is Defoor’s visual response to having seen the Xs marked across the New Orleans landscape after Hurricane Katrina, and was initially developed during her month long residency at The Hambidge Center in 2006. X.U.ME was featured at the Spruill Gallery, Atlanta in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of Katrina in August 2010. In addition to an interview with NBC’s “Weekend Today”, a PBS special was created in October, 2010 about Defoor and X.U.ME.

In February 2010, Defoor’s solo exhibit at the Wm Turner Gallery in Atlanta introduced “Via Dorso: Sonnets to Unguarded Moments” to critical acclaim. ArtsCriticATL reviewer Jerry Cullum described Defoor’s exhibit as “classicism becomes contemporary” and “the combination of tradition and innovation is mesmerizing.”

Defoor’s past experience as an environmental graphic designer brings a wealth of knowledge of materials, production techniques, and project coordination to her exhibitions and public art installations. For two weeks in September 2011, Defoor’s “one million thoughts of joy” digital installation premiered, and was seen by over 1,750,000 viewers in downtown Atlanta.

In March 2012, Defoor suspended 23 wedding dresses in an outdoor location in Castleberry Hill. This unpublicized installation marked the second phase of “Relics of Marriage” which initially began as photographic portraiture of previously worn wedding dresses hanging from a single chain in her studio. An indoor mixed-media installation of Relics of Marriage exhibited in conjunction with Atlanta Celebrates Photography 2012 at The Arts Exchange in Atlanta.

Due to popular demand, Defoor created the first version of the Relics of Marriage art photography book in which she paired the portraits with statements—ranging from biting to poignant to sugary sweet — given primarily by the dresses’ owners. Copies of this special edition accompanied a selection of large scale framed prints from the Relics series for her inaugural solo New York exhibition at Umbrella Arts Gallery in New York City, April – June 2015, and one is in the collection of the New York Public Library.

From her “Exposed” series of mixed media drawings, Defoor was invited to be one of twelve artists to participate in “The Drawing Experiment” at the Chastain Art Gallery in Atlanta, July. 2015. In August 2016, her work from the Belted series was exhibited at Whitespace Gallery as part of “The Garden of Unearthly Delights”, in celebration of the Bosch Quincentenary.

Sponsored by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Defoor’s solo exhibit “Unbridled” at Gallery 72 in Atlanta, included two large-scale installations of her work from “Belted”, “Exuvia” and the “Relics of Marriage” series, in the Spring of 2018.

In October 2019, Defoor created “Uncloaked”, a large scale installation at Thomas Deans Fine Art. New works of sculpture and photography from Exuvia were included in addition to her most recent drawings from the “Exposed” series. Currently, she is working as an artist in residence at EBD4.

Defoor’s curatorial experience began in 2012 at the Arts Exchange. She created EBD4 as her studio, and continued her curatorial efforts there with “40 over 40” in 2017, and a national call which resulted in an exhibit of artists from nineteen states along with her own installation for “Loss. Redemption. Grace.” In October, Defoor curated the “Drag Queens & Club Kids: Al Clayton” exhibit for Atlanta Celebrates Photography 2019.

Videos of “Elyse Defoor– Art Installation / Loss. Redemption. Grace”, “Uncloaked”, “Unbridled”, “all of us, alone” and the first day of the Relics of Marriage outdoor installation in Castleberry Hill Atlanta, along with exhibit tours, NBC, and a PBS special, may be viewed here.