Communicating through images and Sicilian language: Interview with Elenoiret
Eleonora Treppiedi, also known as Elenoiret, is a Sicilian illustrator and graphic designer.
After living away from Sicily for a long time, she returned to her hometown where she now creates amazing art, bringing together images and words to tell stories of what it means to be Sicilian… in her own way.
For years you’ve lived away from Sicily. Why did you decide to come back?
I’ve never been inflexible about where I wanted to live, but I honestly never thought I’d come back here. After my university studies in Venice, I came back to Sicily certain that it would be a transition period, before deciding where to go next. But what started out as something transitory turned out to be a long-lasting decision, and today, I live and work in Palermo. My work certainly has greater value if I do it from here, because the environment I illustrate represents the world I live in.
Let’s talk about sicilianity, a more and more common word nowadays, but quite hard to describe. What does it mean for you?
I believe there are too many wrong ways of depicting sicilianity that are often contradictory. Sicilianity is always too positive or too negative, too traditional or too innovative, too old or too modern. I try to combine all this, conveying a different vision of sicilianity, a vision that is mine, but also others’, as I happily discovered.
One of the most intriguing aspects of your work is the use of language. What made you decide to use the Sicilian language in your illustrations?
Using Sicilian is a way to stay connected to my true being. Anyone who communicates for work, whether through images or other tools, tries to depict their true being as much as they can. I do this through Sicilian, but also through the colour palette and the images in an inseparable relationship. So, it actually wasn’t a choice to use Sicilian, it just came naturally to me.
Illustration by Elenoiret.
The use of this language makes you unique, but maybe also a bit “exclusive”. Do you think that your illustrations can also resonate with those who don’t understand Sicilian?
Over time I found out that my work is also appreciated by non-Sicilian people, because they see words as an integral part of the illustrations. In other words, the text becomes an image as well. I also found out that some words are shared by more than one dialect, with the same or a different meaning, which is an interesting aspect.
What’s the relationship between words and drawing in your works?
In my illustrations, images and words are connected to each other in an inseparable way. I wish to clarify that the images I create don’t intend to explain the word or idiom that goes with them in an absolute way. They represent what that expression meant in that particular moment for me, and hopefully for many other people. An example I like to use to explain this is my illustration “Accussì”* , depicting a girl enjoying a relaxing moment in the waves. The word accussì could of course represent a lot of other situations than that one, but that is what it meant to me when I illustrated it.
* Literally “just like this”, in Sicilian. It can indicate a pleasant moment, as if saying “I wish I could stay just like this forever”.
Illustration by Elenoiret.
Let’s finish with another language fact: what does your art name mean?
Elenoiret comes, of course, from my name, Eleonora, but with a foreign touch (a little French, if you will), evoking a mixture of old and modern, here and other places. The “t” at the end is the first letter of my surname, Treppiedi.