Essie Somma, Painting

Essie Somma creates work in the intersection of surrealism and pop art. Bright colors and cultural nods combine, retelling stories we think we know. Her paintings urge viewers to step back from life and begin to observe it. Collaged personal photographs, magazine clippings, and advertisements form the basis of her compositions. She then crops and enlarges areas of interest before turning them into large scale paintings. This process continues collage’s investigation of reality’s mysticism by abstracting the familiar and worldly.

Somma is interested in creating artwork that speaks to the wild side of women. Her latest work is an exploration of escapism through fantasy. Reflecting the desire to withdraw from social structures by roaming free, and defining nature as the antithesis of cultural expectation. Fantasy is an intimate act, there’s a vulnerability in allowing the intimate to be seen. Somma believes that when we see others display their vulnerability, it gives us permission to do the same.

Essie is originally from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She finished her high school education at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, then received her BA in Painting and Performance from UCSB and completed the Art Marketing and Business program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. Since finishing school, Essie worked as a contracted painter for the Elisabeth Jones Art Center in Portland, creating murals to inspire social and political change. Before becoming location independent, she became the Art Director of the art center while working as a freelance painter. Somma exhibits regularly in Portland, Oregon while remaining location independent. She recently completed residencies in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City, and has relocated to Illinois for the summer of 2022.