Actress, yoga lover, cute biker and cooking goddess.
The flow of Elya’s body and spoken language made the visit in her sweet apartment, also known as Hotel Mildred, a lovely encounter. Sipping Pinot Grigio and munching on a baguette, bought at a local deli at the Alphabet City, Elya speaks stories about herself through objects that surround her.
Squarisms – La Pratica Fabrica by Amy Lowell
These squarisms were designed by my friend, Amy. When designing font, she designs it so it fits a square, and then writes poems that also fit in a square. She prints them on sweatshirts, t-shirts, fabric, paper, cards, and notebooks. Her font is illegible. No one can read it but she. You can try to figure it out, but you won’t get it. She designed my tattoo. I gave her five letters, each of them is a first letter initial of my parents, my sisters and myself, and then she came up with the design.
My aunt likes to give things. She bought these rabbit slippers for me. I do not know where she bought them; I just know they are made of a rabbit. They are so soft and warm. They were sent to my sister who lived here before me - Netta. And when I moved here I got them. You can say it was my first house-warming gift.
The wooden part, not the white part is a jewelry box. The brown part is from my grandmother. It has been my jewelry box for the last five six years, maybe more. I have accumulated more than it can fit, plus perfumes so I put it into a white box. It is a temporary thing. But the brown wooden box stays.
Perfume ‘Black Woman Unique’
I was in work one day and this girl comes in and just started working there and she introduced herself. It was very warm and friendly. I was immediately struck by her scent. I asked her what it was. She told me about this perfume place and oils. She is very sensitive to smell. I saw her about a month later and she remembered I like the scent. She went to her purse and gave me this little bottle and I have been faithful ever since. That woman – her name is Lynnese. It is probably about a year and half or more that I have been using it. And Lynesse is a black woman unique. She is the embodiment of a black woman unique. There is something really intriguing and attractive about the perfume. It is a combination of scents that a normal person cannot figure out what it is. There are layers to it. Because it is oil it sticks to my clothes. A month later I pull that piece and the smell is there. I have now spread the word and I have at least three girlfriends who use it. They get it from me. I got them hooked. I am the supplier from Harlem. It all started from Lynesse; a black woman unique. She is just fucking awesome and does not give a crap.
Most of them are from my grandmother. As she is getting older, she is slowly getting rid of her stuff. I was visiting her and somehow we got to belts and she said: “why don’t you go back to the bedroom, look at the belts and see if you find something.” I found a very impressive collection and with her permission I took it all. And there are some others that were somehow collected, or I bought them or got them from clothing swaps. But most of them are from my grandmother who is a very classy stylish lady.
Netta (my sister) left it. I think one of her good friends gave that to her as a wedding gift. It has been up there for years.
Flower in White Pot
This flower is very new to my apartment. My good friend is a plant lover and she recently moved. She was giving away her plants and I took few of them. My ex-roommate Paulinka left the bucket here. I don’t know what she used it for, maybe she also had a plant in there.
I only wear bras that have no underwire and have no padding. For years it was very hard to find bras like that. Less than a year ago I was walking around East Village with Netta and we waked to this shop on Second Avenue and I found out they still do exist. That is my sexy bra. It’s black lace.
Original Picasso – you know (laugh). My other sister gave that to me. I think she bought it here in NYC.
My parents always ask me what do I want for my birthday. Last year I said I wanted a leather backpack. I looked for months. This girl who used to work with me came in one day, and she was on her way to a place where she fixed her backpack. I went there and that was it. It was custom made for me. I told him what I wanted. He said: “don’t look at the straps, look at the shape.” I found the basic shape, and then we chose the leather and then the color of the buckle. I love it. It gets me many compliments.
She is from Brisbane, Australia.
We have a regular at work, her name is Crazy Kate. I saw her few times with the sweater on, and I complimented her. She loves to give gifts to people. One day she came in and tried to give me this sweater. I did not want to accept it, I tried to say no and she would not accept my “no, no,” so I ended up saying “yes”. It has a name. Her name is Marilla. It is based on the character in Anne from Green Gables. Every time Crazy Kate sees me wearing it, it makes her very happy.
Before Paulinka moved, there were notes all over the apartment. I removed most of them, but this one stays.
Tomatoes, peppers, mint, sage...a birthday gift from a friend of mine.
Most of the food is from CSA. The pot is Paulinka’s, but what is important is what’s in the pot. It is a lentil stew that Angel made.
Thank you, Elya, for opening your door to an intimate narrative of yourself and your artefacts.