Artist’s dreams meet walls of local gallery

Local artist Elise Aleman displays “Faces of 2020” collection at Gallery Espresso

A Painting part of the “Faces of 2020” collection by Elise Aleman on the wall at Gallery Espresso. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ELISE ALEMAN
Photo courtesy of Elise Aleman
A Painting part of the “Faces of 2020” collection by Elise Aleman on the wall at Gallery Espresso.
Elise Aleman has had several of her dreams come true in her life. Her latest is having her art displayed at Gallery Espresso, which it is now through March 31.

Coffee drinkers and art enthusiasts can spend enjoyable minutes taking in the 22 pieces of Aleman’s work which she spent anywhere between one to 30 precious hours painting so they could one day be displayed in the gallery she so admires.

Aleman said she visited the gallery – a Bohemian café and art gallery with coffee and light fare in a space with mismatched sofas – on an initial visit to the Savannah College of Art and Design on her journey in pursuit of a fine arts degree. She stayed down the street and remembers loving the gallery and café combo.

“I saw artwork on the wall and I’m like ‘Man, someday I wish I could get mine up there,’” Aleman said, reminiscing to the days before her dream took flight.

A Painting part of the “Faces of 2020” collection by Elise Aleman on the wall at Gallery Espresso. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ELISE ALEMAN
Photo courtesy of Elise Aleman
A Painting part of the “Faces of 2020” collection by Elise Aleman on the wall at Gallery Espresso.
Aleman displays a series of portraits painted from friends’ Facebook photos, Pinterest images and personal connections in her collection, “Faces of 2020.” She said the portraits reflect emotions and desires most can identify with: finding strength where there is none to give; joy amid isolation; and hope in a future yet unseen.

Along with a title, Aleman included reference to a passage in the Bible which she thought best relates to the emotions in the piece.

“The portraits look back at you, provoking self-contemplation and thoughtful conversations about biblical themes,” Aleman said. A native of Cuba, Aleman is a Christian artist who now resides in Savannah. She relocated from south Florida to attend SCAD and is set to graduate within weeks.

She spent nine years in school and is on track to obtain her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with a focus in painting. The time difference between her earned associate’s degree from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and her bachelor’s, though, is about 30 years and a handful of obstacles to overcome in order to change her path.

Aleman spent 40 years of her career as a commercial graphic designer, 17 of which she spent with a children’s ministry where she also oversaw the theater and wrote curriculum.

She was able to fulfil a passion through this career which has also bled into her art: Biblical teachings.

“I’m a person of faith and I feel that if God brought me this far, he’s going to take me through whatever is next,” Aleman said.

“I’m a person of faith and I feel that if God brought me this far, he’s going to take me through whatever is next,” — Elise Aleman, artist.

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When Aleman decided to fill a void she saw in her life and pursue her fine arts degree, she faced the tough decision to leave her family when her father wasn’t in great health and to sell her house. She applied to SCAD, but requested to enroll a year from her application date.

The obstacles seemed to clear over the next year like Moses parting the Red Sea, she said. Her father regrettably passed away and her son moved home from college and agreed to rent out Aleman’s house.

“I guess any journey walking through, you have to deal with the obstacles,” Aleman said. “That’s how we know it’s meant to be; you can’t give up. Because, anything worth pursuing is worth all those risks and all those hardships.”

click to enlarge Jessica Barnhill, Gallery Espresso art director,left, introduces Elise Aleman during her meet-the-artist event Feb. 27 at Gallery Espresso. - PHOTO BY NOELLE WIEHE
Photo by Noelle Wiehe
Jessica Barnhill, Gallery Espresso art director,left, introduces Elise Aleman during her meet-the-artist event Feb. 27 at Gallery Espresso.
Aleman’s five-year plan of opening her own Christian art gallery has few to no concrete pieces, but with today’s age of digital shows and virtual showings, she is confident in her journey. She’s also okay with not having anything set in stone, at the moment.

“Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I have it all figured out,” Aleman said. “I have the same questions that every art student has: what’s next?”

Gallery Espresso is located at 234 Bull St., Savannah. Visit galleryespresso.com for a list of upcoming artists and events. Visit elisealeman.com to view more of the artist’s work.

About The Author

Noelle Wiehe

Noelle Wiehe is a dream-chasing journalist from Ohio. She has a Bachelor of Arts with a focus in journalism from the University of Cincinnati and attended the United States Army's Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Maryland. A U.S. Army veteran, Wiehe has a passion for sharing stories of local heroes,...
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