All in with artist, Stephanie Elder

By: Unisa Asokan

If you go out to see shows in Atlanta, chances are you have a piece of Stepanie Elder’s art.  She and her mom distribute her work, carefully protected and packaged in small plastic bags. They swarm into the show like a set of bees loose from the hive, kinetic and potential energy outlines their bodies like laser halos. If you haven’t seen them dancing at an Atlanta show, you probably will.

What would the universe look like if the only inhabitants were characters from Stephanie Elder’s artwork? Floating in the air, sharks swimming, sharp-toothed ghosts, creatures twisted in motion.  I picture them moving like characters from a video game, interacting in some other world.  Do they bump into each other? Do they fight? Slip past one another without a glance?  On found CDs, postage stamps, old convex tv screens, postcards, tiles, wood, discarded lottery tickets. There’s a method to their scattered existence. She only uses the ones in the best shape. You might have one.

“They get mad because they don’t’ win. They throw it to the wind,” says Mom, then Stephanie, “I’ll come by and pick them up.”

My daughter really does work very hard. She wants everybody to enjoy. Some people have more than one, but everyone should have the experience of having art in their life.” – Mom


The day we met up, she went to see the Descendents at the Masquerade. Before that the The Damned, The Sonics, Melvins. Negative Approach, Dinosaur Jr., Eagles of Death Metal, Mastodon at the Fox. The list is almost as long as the Tight Bros roster.

Did you go to the East Atlanta Strut? 

 “No. I went to see John Oates!”  

“Daryl Hall and John Oates, That’s her centerfold,” adds Mom. 

They call the pickup truck their "boyfriend on wheels."

 

An airplane runs south-north overhead like clockwork. Cars fly by on Glenwood.

Their pickup truck aka Boyfriend on Wheels has six years of band stickers carefully preserved by shipping tape and scotch tape.  Some of the stickers are falling off.

Empty spots, Tall Bear, Brother Ali, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, MLK Eyedrum sticker, Drivin N Cryin, Hawks, Twin Tigers, Whores., Rumours, Unknown Hinson, Slothrust, plus many more, stuck all over the Boyfriend on Wheels.

Sharon Jones sticker

 

 

Oh, look there’s soul-singer Sharon Jones.

 

 

 


Who are some of your favorite Local musicians?

“I like Cousin Dan. He’s local. I saw him a couple weeks ago. He was at the Masquerade.

Little Tybee. Their guitar player Josh kinda reminds me of T-Bone. He played with Hall & Oates until he passed.

He was in the private eye video, did all the fancy guitar work from the 80s. That’s him. He was the heart of the band. He was always there to work out the key changes.”

What do you think of the new Masquerade?

“It’s pretty good. I like the location.They made it really nice, what they turned the Underground into. It’s a nice venue now. I really do appreciate the way they changed it.”

How long have you been in Atlanta?

“I’ve lived here all my life. Me and mom, we both. She was born here. I was born here. Georgia born.”

Stephanie Elder art at Masquerade

Inside the Masquerade, you’ll find 14 pieces of Stephanie Elders’s art carefully arranged on the office cork board. Photo – Elena De Soto

Do you play music at all?

Played the trumpet for five years.

She plays harmonica but stopped carrying it around because of metal detectors. 

“This is my thing. I draw. I go see the bands. I give them a little piece of art. They can hang it up, do whatever.”

A frequent caller to WAOK and V103 as a kid she’d call in to win tickets, but was too young to go see the shows. So her parents would go instead.

“We can use them. Thank you very much. Thanks for winning. We’d come home and tell her about it,” Mom recalls, “After she graduated from high school she said ‘I’m old enough now, Mom. We can go.’ You know, I’m retired, I’m free to go. That’s why we are able to go downtown, see the concerts, make friends.”

In the early 2000s, she started showing art at festivals around Atlanta. Selling stickers. Showing art. Last summer, she had a show at Collect. “We had a little party. Quite a few people came. Black Lips showed up. They are a local band.”

Sephanie Elder and Cole Alexander of the Black Lips

Cole Alexander of the Black Lips, Stephanie & Mom at the Masqerade.

 

 

“Best dancers in ATL.”

“Omg I love them, have her art on my wall!!!”

“They are so cute. I bought her art last time I saw them!” – Instagram

 

 

 

“She’s just seemed cool so we invited her backstage and hung out. I posted a picture then everybody started telling stories of how they dug her and her friend.” – Black Lips’ guitarist, Cole Alexander.


Where are you from?

“Clayton County. About 40 minutes.”

Damn. That’s a commitment.

“I like seeing different musicians and hanging out with my different band friends and stuff that started bands and playing around for a long time.”

If you could have anyone come to Atlanta to play, who would it be?

“Hall & Oates.” It all comes back to Hall & Oates.

H&O, “That was her centerfold.” -Mom

Stephanie Elder is everywhere you look. A sticker on a guitar case, dancing at a random show, salvaging objects thrown to the curb, an art show, a concert, the drum head of Atlanta band, Beije.

Beije @ 529, Atlanta, Ga.


She’s done other stuff like access TV programs. Her artwork appears in the horror flick, “ACE the Zombie,” screened at the Plaza Theatre.  If you look hard enough you can see Stephanie as an extra in We Are Marshall, and as an extra in Remember the Titans Denzel Washington, locker scene at Grady High School.

“It’s always a work in progress as an artist. To be an artist is great, but you have to do more than draw and paint.”

Like what?

“We deliver furniture. Move stuff for people. Clean yards. Do yard work. Recycle. Pick up old refrigerators, stoves. Cardboard. Old tv sets, flat screens that fell off the wall, I take them apart, the front glass is thick. Get thin plastic out, cut it out. Paint on it.” 

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

“Maybe the MET Gallery. The High Museum. Defoor gallery.” she says without hesitation.

 

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