Dana Ellyn   www.danaellyn.com

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"Learning to Crawl"
Two-person show with Matt Sesow
Inside/Outside Gallery
Cleveland, OH
August 2005

Postcard from the Show:



Review from "Cleveland Scene":

Photos from "Learning to Crawl" Opening Reception
August 4, 2005

PRESS RELEASE "LEARNING TO CRAWL" "Inside-Outside Art Gallery"
(2688 W. 14th Street in Cleveland, Ohio)

About the show (by Matt Sesow):
"Learning to Crawl" is an exhibit of two of Washington DC's hardest working and dedicated artists. The title of the show was conceived by Matt Sesow to help explain the idea that similar to the way a baby must learn to crawl before it learns to run, an artist faces a similar route in his/her development.

Students whom choose to attend art schools are oftentimes taught how to paint, how to execute "technically accurate" representations of objects, safely and under the tutelage of an "expert". The trained artist is taught to run immediately, without risk of falling or using "incorrect" materials and techniques. Oftentimes the crawling phase of learning is skipped, and the art student is left to paint post-graduation hitting a creative wall hearing the "voice of correctness" from their instructors. Although Dana Ellyn attended art school, she taught herself how to crawl as a child artist, creating as a self-taught artist, alone. Indeed, she is learning to shed the art school compulsion of creating perfect pretty pictures.

The world of the self-taught artist is series of mistakes, blunders, and accidents. A self-taught oftentimes "falls" into the pursuit of painting, without tutelage, and without support. There is no graduation and no goal to being a self-taught hobby artist. Individuals who turn to art without education are oftentimes channeling personal struggles into the art in order to help heal or explain feelings. Matt, inspired by Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" tag line, insists that everybody has at least 15 paintings in them. The real struggle is the endurance and dedication it takes to believe in yourself enough to do it all the time, get past the 15 paintings, keeping it fresh, and improving. Matt feels he is still "a crawler", with the occasional "first step".

Currently, Dana and Matt paint together at least once every week in one of their two Washington, DC studios. They have been a positive influence on each other's work and direction, continuing to crawl and run together. Thanks for looking, Dana and Matt.
Dana Ellyn:
Dana Ellyn has always known that she is an artist. Growing up in Connecticut she oftentimes spent hours on end quietly drawing in her room honing her skills of representation. Dana was recognized throughout her childhood by winning a variety of international and statewide awards for her abilities as an artist. Her determination catapulted Dana to be admitted on scholarship into the fine arts and art history program at George Washington University (Washington, DC).

Beginning in 2002, Dana left the corporate world to pursue art full time. Her abandonment of several of life's luxuries has afforded her the time and focus to create a dazzling array of thoughtful and well-conceived paintings. The allure of a Dana Ellyn painting is that it tells a story, her paintings have meaning, and sometimes the message may come as a shock... Don't let her pigtails fool you.

Matt Sesow:
Matt started painting in Washington, DC as a hobby and a way to impress a girl back in 1993. At that time, he was gainfully employed as a software engineer for IBM and had never considered painting as a way to make a living... let alone spend his free time. Since then, the thousands of paintings he's created have evolved from being curious oddities amongst friends and family, into a full-time professional pursuit with hundreds of collectors around the world. Matt's work has gained a lot of attention within the gallery and academic field studying "outsider art".

In the beginning, Matt obsessively created paintings that were influenced and inspired by a childhood accident with a landing airplane. When he was eight years old, he was struck by the propeller of an airplane that subsequently amputated his left-dominant hand. Early paintings reflected the trauma and frustration of growing up in rural Nebraska with a physical disability. While his work continues to be influenced by disability, Matt's paintings have emerged to tackle a variety of societal, personal, and historical subjects. Since leaving the computer field in 2001, Matt has been living entirely off the sale of his paintings.