Esther Elia Show opening at Park Life May 19th, 2023

May 10th, 2023

Esther Elia

Shraya d’Ashureta

Park Life Gallery

May 19th – June 25, 2023

Reception 6-8 pm Friday May 19th.

Park Life is happy to announce the opening of Shraya d’Ashureta, an exhibit of new works by Esther Elia.

“Shraya d’Ashureta” loosely translates in Assyrian to “the light of the Assyrian woman.” This references my crude attempts at lamp making, but also my earnest joy of painting Assyrian bodybuilder deities over the last few years. As we all doom-scrolled through the pandemic, my feed was filled with Instagram reels of Assyrian women in my community bodybuilding and powerlifting. I started painting my community members as bodybuilder deities, referencing our ancient pantheon, and thinking of these new figures as the offspring of our ancient ancestors who followed us into diaspora to provide strength and protection for us there. These “new” deities now show up in different applications as I think about ancient Assyrian palace art, large bas-reliefs and monumental sculptures, and play with dimension, material, and concept.

As a final thought, I’ve been reflecting lately about Assyrian women — our intensity, many times our unlike-ability — the many women in my lineage that were tough and lacking in warmth. As I represent them in deity form, they’re allowed to be intimidating, even unlikeable. Their job is to protect, and I wonder how I can better celebrate the “bakhta karobta” (woman who angers quickly), the QinTayta (dangerous), the Palashta (fighter/warrior) — how these traits can illuminate my own path – can become my own “shraya” (light).

Esther Elia is a mixed Assyrian-Irish artist from Turlock, California. She graduated from California College of the Arts, BFA 2019 and University of New Mexico, MFA 2023. This is Esther’s second show at Park Life.