Discipline: Visual Art – photography

Elliot Mercer

Discipline: Visual Art – photography
Region: Chicago, IL
MacDowell Fellowships: 2023

Elliot Gordon Mercer is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and performance scholar. Working at the intersection of drag and theatrical self-portraiture, he designs and constructs historical scenarios that are staged for the production of faux-documentary films and photographs.

Centered on queering the experience of history, Mercer engages drag to integrate himself as a main figure of each scene. His fictitious archival images and their corresponding curatorial texts interweave scholarship and creativity, imagination and historical accuracy, in a process of queer storytelling.

Mercer received a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary theatre and drama from Northwestern University and an M.A. in performance studies from NYU. He is a graduate of the Tamalpa Institute’s professional training program in expressive arts therapy. Mercer is a 2022-2024 American Council of Learned Societies Emerging Voices Fellow.



Elliot Mercer worked in the Nef studio.

Nef Studio, the first entirely new studio built after 1937, was donated by esteemed photographer, explorer, author, and MacDowell Fellow Evelyn Steffanson Nef in 1992. Endowed funds for the studio’s maintenance in perpetuity and an annual Fellowship for photographers were given in addition to funds for construction. Mrs. Nef said she had known about MacDowell all her…

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