An historical room with paintings on the wall.

Elizabeth Colomba

New York/France
Artist in Residence, 2019

A portrait of a person sitting in front of a canvas on an easel.


Artist Statement

Informed by historical and literary sources and iconography, I compose a visual language that incorporates my Caribbean and French heritage combined in the tradition of classical academic painting. As a part of my practice, I research historical characters such as Phillis Wheatley and Chevalier de Saint Georges immortalizing them as their contemporaries could have. My work allows portraiture to become a political space while honoring presence in a story where the black body was relegated to invisible subjects carrying the burden of history. Creating images that challenge our learned perception and unconscious reactions helps us to re-evaluate what we know. While acknowledging the past, I wish to bend an association of ideas, so a black individual in a period setting is no longer synonymous with a slave or subservient, and by extension becomes the center of their own tale.

While at Headlands

I’ve been cultivating the concepts of leisure, class, and blackness. While drawing my inspiration from classicism and European art, I want to explore what it is to see the black body embodying a space where it takes part in timeless lightness. In leisure, Blackness is seldom allowed to embrace leisure, as it might dangerously be perceived as indolent, while white cultural forms are universalized as normal forms. I’m interested in depicting how leisure choices are used to construct exclusive identities by having black characters occupying a space routinely inhabited by whiteness. My final project will be large watercolors. I have worked with this medium before, however always on a small scale. While at Headlands, I plan to develop the concept by drawing studies and sketches, navigating between different themes of leisure. A few will be outdoors, and the geographical setting of Headlands will allow me to use the landscape as inspiration.