Elba Damast, Venezuelan (1944 - 2005)

In her art, Pedernales, the small island where she was born
in 1944 in the Delta Amucuro, was never far from her core. Its river,
the only connection to the mainland and the jungle that always loomed
large and mysterious in the background always seemed to flow through
the blue planes and jumble of plants in her paintings and drawings.
Thoughts of her mother, Lillia were evident too. She called her "the
beautiful dame" and her first inspiration. From her Elba would say she
learned to believe in herself and to forge her own identity; she went
from using her father's last name of Perez to her mother's last name
of Damas, to own identity of Damast, and a life built in New York
City. Even though she lived far from her childhood home she remained
very close to her brothers and sisters. Elba was the third child of a
family of 13. As one of the oldest, she and her older sister helped
take care of the younger children. This early experience reinforced
her commitment to caring for others and sharing her good fortune. She
believed that the family truly is the heart - the center of life and

Elba Damast arrived in New York City in the fall of 1971. Listed here
are but a few of her exhibitions. Her first exhibition in New York
was in a group show at the Avanti Gallery. In 1976 she was featured
as one of a group of young and upcoming artists in the Metropolitan
Museum of Art's exhibition titled "Spanish and American Painters and
Sculptors." In 1984 she won wide notice for her one woman museum show
titled "Taller de Ojo," at the Galeria de Arte Nacional in Caracas
Venezuela, as well as her exhibition at the Jackie Little John Smith
Gallery in New York and Bülowska Galleriet, Malmö, Sweden. In 1989 at
the Landskrona Kuntshall in Sweden she first exhibited the large scale
installation of the Casa Om. From that Swedish exhibition, the Casa
Om installations reappeared in shows in New York, Costa Rica,
Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, Spain, and Venezuala. The Casa Om was
part of the 1995 Milwaukee Art Museum's traveling exhibition titled
"Latin American Women Artists 1915 to 1995." Towards the of end of
the 1990s she began work on the installation and sculpture Memories of
Things to Come that was first shown for three months at the Lehman
College Art Gallery in 2004. In 2003 she exhibited one of the last of
her large scale paintings, part of her Entangled Portraits series in a
group exhibition at Lehman College Art Gallery group titled "De lo que
yo soy/Of what I am."

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