Born in 1999, Elise Chomiczewski was born and raised in South Jersey. She attended Good Shepherd Regional Catholic School and was chosen valedictorian of her eighth grade class. She attended Collingswood High School, and in 2018 she commuted to Rutgers Camden. Her primary focus has been on painting the figure. This interest, originated in the eighth grade, has taken her to further investigations in portraiture in contemporary art. She began her explorations in portraiture by experimenting with fractured versions of her face and overlapping them to explore at what point the human face becomes transformed and unseen by the human eye. This led her to instead focus on her face as a whole. She is also the recipient of the William M. Hoffman Jr. Award for Excellence in Drawing and Painting.
When meeting someone or coming across something, we tend to notice the face first before anything else. There is so much we base off the face – how it looks – in order to make a judgment. Because of this, sometimes we cover up, turn away, and hide behind a mask. I’ve spent many years putting on different types of masks: in school, at work, around my family, with my children, in front of acquaintances, and around friends. I’ve always been more of an observer rather than a participant, leading to my more subdued and shy demeanor.
I’ve been interested in the depiction of the face to explore its imperfections and hone in on the inescapable acknowledgment of it. My faces in my work are all so slightly different but still me, emphasizing this idea of masks and differing presentations depending on my social surroundings. The largeness of my faces forces the viewers to confront them and contemplate their approachability in their blank stares and unnerving disembodiment. There is a tension between the preservation of the face and a feeling of being trapped within it, reflecting my history with shyness and hiding away.
In addition to exploring the role of masks in certain social interactions, my works also explore the idea of beauty and imperfection. In our society, women in particular are often expected to wear a “mask” of makeup or undergo cosmetic surgery to achieve a certain standard of beauty. However, the faces I present in my artwork are far from perfect and instead embrace the imperfections that make us human.