Elsa grew up on the Northshore of Boston, by the sea, with an evolved hippy family; a household without a TV or barbies, atypical of a “normal” American childhood. She spent her free time in the wilderness, naked, in places of extreme beauty. Art became and has always been her passion. Making things is both a compulsion and a release. Elsa has always created mixed media, currently utilizing the objects found in nature such as plants, bones and stones, however her primary medium is digital imagery, photography and video.
After going through some difficult personal experiences as a young adult with depression, anxiety, relationships, substance abuse, body image, and also after working in fashion for a brief time, she began to utilize the camera as a tool, therapy, an outlet for heartfelt emotions rather than a mechanism for constructing unattainable beauty. She began taking nude self portraits, also turning the camera on loved ones: soulmates, friends, and humans encountered throughout the natural waves of existence. By keeping the image raw, only manipulating color and patterns, the natural form of the body is maintained, thereby contributing positivity and truth to the ever-changing, oversaturated, modern visual landscape.
Born Wild is the name for her ongoing series & exhibitions. She was named, in part, after the lion “Elsa” in the movie Born Free. Much of the human experience and most narratives across disciplines are operate around the concept of “freedom.”
Elsa has exhibited around the country at galleries including One Art Space, Greenpoint Gallery, the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Chashama NYC, and Ophelias Denver.
[We are all born wild, free, one with everything. We are the earth. The nude body is a primal truth. Photographs of humans in the natural elements alongside other sentient beings, serve as reminders that we must respect one another and the planet.]
We are B O R N W I L D; Human beings, animals, water, rocks, trees, we are all one, we are the earth. Born free, a mirror of one another and our universe. The sun, air, wind on my bare skin, dirt, salt, sea, being nude in nature, feeling free, that is my ecstasy.
Why do I shoot nudes? Because the human body is so powerful and magical… it is the most unique and strong instrument that we will ever own, therefore we must treat it with more care and respect than anything else in the world. We must learn to honor our bodies, fellow human beings, animals and the earth. We are all one. The nude body is a primal truth.
Photographing both myself and other people without clothing, framing a space absent of manmade objects, allows me to embrace & share the intrinsic universal oneness. Nudity for me, reveals and resembles reality. Being among the wild things, breathing, climbing, swimming, sitting, reflecting, capturing what it is to simply be, is my therapy.
Our modern visual landscape is overly saturated, especially when it comes to topics of sexuality and the human figure. I hope that my work allows people to view the body in a more natural, accepting way, thereby contributing to a body positive narrative.
"You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners." – Dostoevsky
Life is fragile. Mankind, the human mind and body are unique, mysterious elements of our planet and the greater universe. Making images of nude bodies in nature is a way for me to experience and express this collective, timeless vulnerability and unknowingness.
What is art? Freedom? How does one truly enter a state of liberation?
The mind is an interesting place, as is the body in space. My work is inspired by the unknown, oneness, rebirth, transformation of collective energy, and the innate human desire to achieve nirvana, enlightenment, or whatever word one may choose to define a mystical experience. We are all interconnected, and in order to achieve individual or societal solace, we must respect one another, and help those who are more imprisoned than ourselves.
Humans are animals are nature, and the relationships cultivated with one another are constantly changing with the stream of life. Subjective experiences and understandings of words define conception. The way that humans categorize themselves, primarily as a superior species, yields a shallow respect and relationship with planet earth. We must move beyond the damaging part of the ego and learn to sit, think, contemplate, hypothesize, realize, & accept the unknown nature of the universe.
"... The human experience is infinitely vast, as is the wisdom buried in every crevice of the natural world." - Kim Krans [The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Guidebook]
*All photographs are taken by Elsa Marie Keefe on a basic Canon DSLR, edited in camera RAW & photoshop, including composites, some containing two or more layers. The images are captured with a digital camera, in nature, all over the world. Some of the images are self-portraits, while others include people who enter my life with a similar vision for existence and the shared human experience. The intention behind the "natural" setting, lighting, and nude human figure, free of any modern day material items, is to create a timeless, sublime visual experience; to move the mind beyond the material plane, suggesting a surreal reality between realms, worlds, words, ideals, or ideas of reality [heaven, earth, and the space between].
*All images are exclusive property of Elsa Marie Keefe /// born - October 9, 1990
Born Wild, solo show / April 2019 / Greenpoint Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Peoples Choice Awards / March 2019 / Greenpoint Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
She Is / March 2019 / One Art Space, NYC
Conception / February 2019 / M1-5 Lounge, NYC
ARTIFACTS / December 2018 / One Art Space, NYC
Ophelias / 2018 / Denver, CO (large-scale nude art film video projection behind live performance by EL JAVI)
Eternal Summer / July 2018 / One Art Space, NYC
Hostel Fish, multiple shows / April - July 2018 / Denver, Colorado
CPAC (Colorado Photographic Arts Center) Annual Members Exhibition / June - July 2018 / 'mortal danger'
The Human Collective / March 23, 2018 / video projection behind DJ set for @nicoledesoul @ftgreenebar w/ music by @kiddg3nius & event production by @brogthepredator
"She Is" / March 16, 2018 / One Art Space, TriBeCa NYC
Colorado Vibes / March 16, 2018 / Spectra Art Space, S. Broadway, Denver, CO
RAW DENVER / November 2017 / The Church, Denver, CO
Transformental / October 2015 / performance art, video, live music, dance, moving meditation
locations / venues
New York City
One Art Space
Chashama (see "Transformental" and "Freedom" for links above under 'Exhibitions')
The Church Nightclub
Miami - Art Basel, Lemon City Studios (collaboration with Eddy Bogaert, see 'collaborations')
the human collective
e&e / MADMIND (health & wellness)
*site is currently under construction