Danielle Ellen Owensby

Danielle Ellen Owensby, also known by the acronym of her full name, “deo”, is an artist and writer who graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a MFA in Photography in 2017. Her visual work focuses on trauma and the fragility of memory, namely confronting difficult memories and finding ways to portray events that are seemingly unrepresentable. When she isn’t making heavy work, she likes to travel and make fun narratives with her lens. Owensby’s work has been exhibited coast to coast in venues such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum (Grand Rapids, MI); The Knockdown Center (New York, NY); and 1650 Gallery (Los Angeles, CA). She currently lives and works in Chicago, as an Instructor of Photography at the Lillstreet Art Center.

Trauma Tableaux

My work explores the complexities of childhood trauma, identity, and memory through constructed photographs and metaphor. Trauma is very difficult to talk about, let alone represent. With my disarming use of color, juxtapositions that reference play, and the transference of factual representation onto innocent objects, I play to the strengths of the constructed image to create a means of thinking about this difficult topic.

The act of constructing the scenes for the camera and creating installation spaces harkens pack to playtime as a child, where we created our own worlds. I am now creating metaphoric plays for the camera, drawing from my own experience as a survivor of childhood trauma, to create a visual language that can be universally understood. There is a delicate balance I work from, teetering on the fine line between chaos and order, awful and sweet, and presence and absence. Materiality assists me in exploring this binaries, as I use childlike iconography such as teddy bears and bright colors, as well as bed sheets and obsessive collections. The anxiety found in this meticulous organization reflects the anxieties of not only my own experiences but of others who have suffered and survived.

To view more of Danielle Owensby’s work please visit her website.