Elena Disabato – Why a Painter from Chicago Returned to Her Creative Roots
Elena Disabato is an abstract painter and mixed-media artist from Chicago. Her techniques include applying Swarovski crystals in patterned overlays, and metallics, decoupage, and scrapbooking materials. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Syracuse University in New York, Disabato studied Renaissance painting in Italy. In 2006, she moved back to her hometown and switched gears to marketing. Twelve years later, she returned to her creative roots and used those skills to line up painting commissions.
During her time in New York, Disabato received an award through Art in America magazine and exhibited her work at a gallery in Soho. But the competition was brutal. Describing herself as a “slight, flat-chested goth raver with a goal to succeed,” she felt commodified and shunned from the commercial gallery world. Determined to forge her own path, she formed a collaborative called Art + Science that held bi-monthly events at the Galapagos Art Space in her Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg..
Her work was included in an exhibition on Sustainable Architecture at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in 2017, but for over a decade, Disabato devoted her energy to promoting others. In 2018, she returned to the studio. Armed with the renewed confidence of someone who has faced rejection and persevered, and superior marketing skills, Disabato immersed herself in the Chicago gallery scene and was soon painting full-time. Her dream-like abstractions of bubbles, chromosomes, and waves incorporate pencil, charcoal, graphite, pastel, and collage, as well as non-traditional materials such as crystals.
By focusing on subconscious elements that are open to interpretation, Disabato aims to “spark joyful interactions that do not marginalize.” Her recent success as a painter, and her layered career trajectory, are an apt reminder of how easy it is to be waylaid by the challenges of becoming a full-time artist, and encourage others to find their way home.
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Elena Disabato — Artist Statement
Combining aesthetic beauty with the unexpected is something I strive for in my art. Whether a piece is representational of a specific subject or demonstrates an abstracted concept, my goal for creating art is twofold:
1. Allow each recipient and viewer to feel connected with and understood, regardless of subject matter or technique.
2. Put something original into the world that answers subconscious questions, leaving a lasting conscious impression of beauty and satisfaction.
I work in a variety of 2-D media at any scale on canvas, board or paper, all hand-stretched, primed, sized and prepared for hanging:
- Mixed media – pencil, charcoal, graphite, ink, marker, conte, pastel
- Collage + decoupage
Specialized techniques include using Swarovski crystals in patterned overlays, metallics (paint, pencil, marker), scrapbooking materials, and various finishing media.
Elena Disabato – Grant Submission Works
Metallic and glossy abstract objects intersect to form a composition derived from the subconscious. // Shown at Side Street Studio Arts gallery, “You Are Not the Boss of My Art” exhibition, March 2021, Elgin, IL, USA.
Abstract metallic bubbles form a composition derived from a dream state, representative of a chromosome.
This abstract piece features metallic gold paint and elaborates on the design of a prior work called 'Waves' exploring different colorways and shapes. // Shown at FLATSstudio pop-up gallery show, November 2019, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
This abstract piece features metallic silver paint and elaborates on the design of 'Waves,' exploring different colorways and shapes. The handmade Italian wood frame was purchased at the 2019 Ravenswood Art Walk. // Shown at FLATSstudio pop-up gallery show, November 2019, Chicago, IL, USA.
Abstract metallic bubbles form a composition derived from dream state, representative of a decanter.
Elena Disabato – Bio
I am a painter and mixed media artist living in the Logan Square neighborhood of my hometown, Chicago. Following college at Syracuse University (BFA ’00) with a semester in Florence, Italy studying Renaissance painting, I lived in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, curating the fine art portion of bi-monthly “Art & Science” events at Galapagos Art Space, until 2006 when I returned to Chicago. Three of my pieces were shown in 2007 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago at the Sustainable Architecture Chicago exhibit in tandem with Bruce Mao’s Massive Change exhibit.
I took a hiatus from my art to forge a career marketing for architects, which proved to only stifle my ability to create work for myself. Beginning in 2018, I reintroduced myself to my creative process and pursued securing over a dozen commissions in 2 years. In 2020 I decided to leave the architecture industry and pursue my art full time; I have been making new work weekly ever since. So far in 2021 I have exhibited at Side Street Studio Arts in Elgin and sold most of my new abstract body of work.
Elena Disabato on the Web And Social Media
Here is where to find out more about Elena Disabato on the web and social media:
About the Artist of the Day Series
All artworks have been published with permission of the artist. Our "Artist of the Day" series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100's of grant applications we receive. The "Not Real Art Grant" is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists, and this is one way we honor all entries we receive. Find out more about the grant program here.