I was born to 2 parents and 5 teenagers in December of 1994, and the nurses called me the Big Pink Baby (which remains accurate). My mother named me after her mother who had died almost exactly a year before, and also the joy of having a baby. Florence Elaine was all school letters and aprons and piano keys. I was caught between the beatles and nintendo games, crayons and MS Paint. When you're little your concept of the world and how it works is so limited. My in-between-ness was just what I was used to. A baby with grown siblings, an old soul with a bent for video games.
I remember always wanting to shove my hands into buckets of things. Pom-poms, pipe-cleaners, felt scraps, sequins especially. Glue and paint and crayons and colored pencils were so just my thing. I loved special little things like eating pancakes on the patio and having my bread cut into little rectangles. I dug in the backyard for pirate treasure, played fairies, and made rose petal potions. Princess dresses made my eyes sparkle and jewelry made my heart flutter.
Here I am, just that same glittery girl.
I’m lots of things, just like you are. Paradoxes and universes. I'm vastly interested in our own strange intersections. I've noticed that as uncomfortable as it can be, showing up for real can help others feel seen. It's OK if you aren't so girly, or if you don't get jazzed up by the sound of a PlayStation 2 booting up. There is so a place for you here.
My name is Elaina Florence Joy Swanson, and I’m an artist. There’s simply no other way around it. I’m self-conscious and loud and shy and impulsive and thoughtful.
Welcome to my studio, where I work and play and worry and drink lots of coffee, and sometimes a nice little cocktail. It’s messy and beautiful in here.