As Solid as Skin Can Be by Dessa Ely

About the exhibition

Throughout June and July, Lakeshore Arts will be hosting an exhibition, titled “As Solid as Skin Can Be” by emerging artist Dessa Ely, featuring work in various mediums on the subject of loss.

Dessa Ely makes images and objects using processes that mimic personal experiences. Through a careful combination of experimental materials and alternative processes, she hands over control from herself to the work, developing objects that are a product of both herself and the rest of the world. 

Through her work, Ely examines the impermanence of innocence and childhood in a world that forces girls to grow up too fast, contemplates the fragility of existing as a mixed Asian person in  a Western world obsessed with categorization,  and explores what it means to process and heal from loss. 

Ely creates art through techniques that mirror her own experiences of loss. Cells within a leaf die to produce an image that will eventually fade and decompose. Polaroid images are destroyed so that they may be joined with another image. Images on rice paper warp and contort to objects beneath them. Witnessing pieces of herself being created outside of herself allows Ely to process how these pieces fit within her own identity, and how she fits into the rest of the world. 

Dessa Ely will facilitate 4 art-making workshops throughout the exhibition, where participants will create cyanotypes and rusted metal artworks that will then be added to the exhibition.

Steel artwork by Dessa Ely

Exhibition Hours

Exhibition Hours – Tuesday, June 6 to Friday, July 14

Tuesdays: 1 – 5PM

Wednesdays: 1 – 6PM

Thursdays: 12 – 7PM

Fridays: 12 – 7PM

About the Artist

Dessa Ely is a 19-year-old artist based in New York City and Toronto currently working towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts at The Cooper Union’s Fine Arts program. She makes process based work using various mediums, about loss, racial identity, healing and the individual experiences of herself and others through time.

Upcoming Workshops

Metal Rusting Workshop – Thursday, June 8th and Thursday, June 15th

By forcing metal to rust, artist Dessa Ely gestures towards the act of aging and life’s transformation through time. In this workshop, Ely will guide participants through the non-toxic chemical process of rusting metal while they create their own images. Participants will be invited to add their new artworks to the exhibition, to be returned to them at the closing of the exhibition on July 14th. 

Workshop will be running 6:30PM to 8PM.

Cyanotype Artwork Workshop – Thursday, June 22nd and Thursday July 6th

In this workshop, artist Dessa Ely asks participants to consider the concept of (im)permanence through cyanotyping fabric. Participants will be invited to bring personal objects to guide their cyanotype designs. Pre-treated fabric will be exposed to sunlight, transferring prints of these objects to the fabric. What remains are shadows of personal items. Participants will have the opportunity to add their new artworks to the exhibition, to be returned to them at the closing of the exhibition on July 14th.

Workshop will be running 6:30PM to 8PM.

Volunteer at the exhibition

Want to make a positive impact in the community arts? Become an summer volunteer!

Lakeshore Arts is currently seeking volunteers for the roles of: Exhibition Attendants and Workshop Assistants. Learn more about each position and apply here.

Artwork by Dessa Ely