ella dreyfus australian artist and academic

Ella Dreyfus has a thirty year career as a contemporary visual artist and is well-known for her exhibitions which engage with representations of the body. She won the inaugural Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture and her photographic exhibitions at Stills Gallery in Sydney, Australia - The Body Pregnant, Age and Consent, Transman and Under Twelve, Under Twenty, embraced the ordinary, striking a rich source of humanity, compassion and emotional resonance. 

Her monograph The Body Pregnant was published by Penguin in 1993, and one artwork from her 2001 series Transman was selected for a major exhibition Cheveux Cheris - Frivolites et Trophee at the Musee du quai Branly, Paris in 2013. 

In recent years her art practice has shifted towards the performative, interactive and reflective, where the complex relationships between the private/public and the physical/emotional realms are revealed, creating new possibilities for visually embodied experiences. These object, installation and photographic exhibitions include Weight and Sea, Scumbag, To see beyond what seems to be and I forgive you every day. 


Since 2013 her object-based installations have been located in France and Germany with her exhibitions Je m'appelle Dreyfus, je suis juive and Walking in Wiesbaden. 

Ella Dreyfus holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the City Art Institute, Sydney College of Advanced Education, a Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney and a Doctor of Philosophy in Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. 

Dreyfus is a Senior Lecturer in Photography and Head of Public Programs at the National Art School in Sydney, Australia.  She has over twenty-five years’ experience in arts education as a lecturer at Australian tertiary art institutions and presenter at international conferences. 


Ella Dreyfus' doctoral thesis Shame and the Aesthetics of Intimacy: Three contemporary artworks showed how affects can be foregrounded within contemporary art to provide intimate and aesthetic encounters, leading to the development of new relationships between artists, subjects and spectators. In this practice-based research four new exhibitions were created which critically analysed how emotional, physical and cultural shame could be transformed from being a negative affect into a productive and creative force. 


The studio-based doctorate included the following exhibitions Weight and Sea, Scumbag, To see beyond what seems to be and I forgive you every day. 

Dreyfus was awarded the National Art School Storrier Onlsow Residency at the Cite Internationale des Artes in France in 2013 where she created the new series Je m'appelle Dreyfus, je sius juive.  She was awarded a place in the Banff Research in Culture Visual Arts Residency Program in Canada in 2014 where she created the new series Intimate Distance.  In 2017  Dreyfus was Artist in Residence at the Bellevue Saal Kunsthaus in Wiesbaden Germany where she created her new series of public installations and photographs on the theme of her family's tragic past as Jews in Nazi Germany. The series Walking in Wiesbaden was exhibited at the Aktives Museum Spiegelgasse for German Jewish History in Wiesbaden in 2017.

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