Elena Jahn was born in 1938 in Moscow, Idaho and raised in Syracuse, New York. In 1949 her family began spending summers on Monhegan Island, Maine where her career as an artist began. She lived in Rhode Island from 1966 - 1976 and was a co-founder of HERA Cooperative Gallery in Wakefield. She then became a resident of Brunswick, Maine until 1988, when she began dividing her time between her Monhegan studio and Culebra, Puerto Rico.
She received a B.F.A from Syracuse University’s College of Art and an M.F.A in Painting from the University of Wisconsin. She continued her studies in Paris on a Fulbright Grant. She has taught in college and university art departments in Wisconsin, Nova Scotia, Rhode Island, Norway, and Maine. In 1991, she was invited to have a solo exhibit in the ‘Maine Perspectives’ series at the Portland Museum of Art, showing work from Maine and Puerto Rico. Her work has been exhibited in solo and groups shows and is in private, corporate and public collections in the United States, Canada, Norway, and France. She was an active member of WAMI: Woman Artists of Monhegan Island.
Elena’s artistic preoccupation has always been with the landscape and a sense of place. She traveled the fine line between personal, lyrical abstraction, and figuration, moving back and forth between them. Primarily, she worked with two-dimensional media, including drawing, painting, and collage, often incorporating more than one medium into a piece. Her subject matter spans from realistic rocks, cliffs, sea, and vegetation of her island homes to more abstract renditions of light and sky. In addition, Elena has always drawn the live model and kept plentiful notebooks of sketches from the many places she lived and traveled: upstate NY,, Sweden, Norway, Paris, Rhode Island, Nova Scotia,, Iceland, the southwestern US, Maine and Puerto Rico. She painted up until her death in 2014, leaving behind a legacy of spirited and energetic art.
In her 1999 artist’s statement, Elena wrote:
“As I review the many facets of my own work, I see that they are all threads connected to my inner core. Each change reflects an urge to move into unknown territory, leading to the place where I find myself now.”