Anastasia Pelias was born in New Orleans, LA to a Greek immigrant mother and a first generation Greek-American father. Her artistic practice is rooted in the dual cultural identity of both her native and ancestral roots in New Orleans, LA and Skopelos, Greece. Blending the vibrant, compassionate nature of a New Orleanian with her weighty Greek heritage, Pelias creates work that is rich with personal depth of emotion and the spirit of exploration. Through a nuanced interpretation of paint, color, marks and ritual objects, Pelias unapologetically embraces the overarching subjects of life, death, love, sex and the human experience, in particular the female experience. An abstractionist in the truest form, Pelias’ work reflects a seriousness and dedication to the traditional principles of painting – both the concept and the actuality.
Pelias received her BFA from the Newcomb College of Tulane University in 1981 and her MFA from the University of New Orleans in 1996. She has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions at galleries and museums nationwide, including Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Heriard-Cimino Gallery, the McNay Art Museum, the Pensacola Museum of Art, the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, American University (Washington D.C.), Proteus Gowanus (Brooklyn, NY) and the Louisiana State University Museum of Art, and publications nationally including Hyperallergic, New American Paintings, ArtDaily, and New Orleans Art Review. Her works appear in permanent collections at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Mobile Museum of Art, and in private and public collections throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Pelias’ work has been featured in notable exhibitions including, The Whole Drum Will Sound: Women in Southern Abstraction, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in 2018, and Per(Sister): Incarcerated Women in Louisianaat the Newcomb Art Museum in 2019. Her recent solo exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in 2019, titled Destiny is Destiny (sing my song), included paintings and sculpture. In 2018, Pelias was commissioned to make a site-specific sculpture and painting installation, mama, by the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX, on view through Spring 2019.
In her studio practice, Pelias embraces a process that is both intuitive and intentional. Her work moves from paintings on canvas and works on paper to site-specificinstallations and sculpture. She invites the viewer to experience a suspended moment and also to engage in their own consciousness. The human-size scale of her interactions with diverse media allows the viewer to immerse oneself in the work as opposed to simply being an observer.
Greek rituals and icons, the rich Afro-Caribbean culture in New Orleans, the shifting landscape of both her immediate environment, Louisiana, and of her familial home, Greece, all equally inform her work.
Relationships have always been at the center of what motivates Pelias to make art. These often include formal relationships dealing with color, marks and space as well as the different kinds of tension that exist between objects and forms. Her work draws upon relationships between people, their narratives and their environments, while also exploring the complexities and absurdities of these connections – between man and woman, and between mother and child; deep ancestral connections that are ever-present, that resonate even if they’re not always understood.
Pelias wants to reveal the poetic moments that exist within and between these relationships. She hopes to create work that is full of emotion and visual pleasure.