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Dena Schuckit
profile by Leanne Haase Goebel

Dena Schuckit is not the first artist to be inspired by the graphic nature of imagery that bombards us from the daily news

"Aerial Event 2"
Acrylic on wood
20" x 24"
Photo: courtesy of David B. Smith Gallery

Dena Schuckit is not the first artist to be inspired by the graphic nature of imagery that bombards us from the daily news. In 1963, Andy Warhol collected UPI photographs of tragic car accidents; Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times featured 14 of these images projected and silkscreened onto an orange canvas. Schuckit collects images of war, disaster, accidents, fire and more from the Internet. "I'm drawn to it. I love the imagery and I didn't want to lose it," she explains. So she created a system to classify, organize and file the imagery as a collector would: by color, shape, or subject. It's her way of dealing with the explicit and often shocking nature of what is presented, and the overwhelming bombardment of imagery found online.

Schuckit grew up in San Diego, went to college in Santa Cruz then moved briefly to New York before settling in San Francisco, and a thirteen-year career as a master printer at Crown Point Press. Today she lives in London, where in 2008 she completed her MA in painting at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Her career as a painter may be relatively new, but her artistic roots run deep in printmaking and in California. Both continue to influence her. And how can they not? As a master printmaker, Schuckit worked side by side with artists Ed Ruscha, Peter Doig, Richard Tuttle, and Tom Marioni. Among the artists she worked with was the sculptor David Nash, who hadn't done a lot of printmaking; Nash was drawn to the materials, particularly the tins of resin, and, using a blowtorch, he began experimenting with the resin. "That's a good lesson," Schuckit says. "Even these photographs and the piles in my studio, I don't necessarily know what will happen with them when I start, but I feel connected to that lesson."

"Everything I know about color I learned from working with Anne Appleby," Schuckit adds. Appleby is a color field painter whose abstract panels are essentially single color landscapes. Her paintings are luminous, often including up to 60 layers of thin color, combined so that the result is opposite from where she began.

Schuckit utilizes the same layering technique in her paintings, which is why she chose acrylic because she can strata the colors using stencils and tape, isolating shapes. She works on panel because she can push and pull through sanding and filing, much the way a printmaker approaches etching a plate.

Schuckit's collection of images from online news sources is of "those frozen moments where you don't realize what you are seeing," she says. She had hundreds of them before she realized that she needed to use them somehow. She prints the digital images and then piles them around her studio referencing them in her paintings. But the viewer will never recognize the images sheÕs appropriated. The veracity may come from one image, but she combines so many together that the source is never contextualized. Working on multiple paintings at the same time helps maintain
the abstraction. "There aren't any rules." For Schuckit, it's about finding suspended moments of peace amidst the chaos. "In a way it's symbolic and it is a little political, so much of the imagery that we have to understand everyday comes from scenes of war," Schuckit says.

But she's not making a judgment or a political commentary. "They really create a new sense of place," she explains. "You look out a window and see one view, but you are also bombarded with images that are as real as what you see outside"--a landscape that may be frightening and awful, but is also compelling and beautiful.

Dena Schuckit's work will be on view from August 27 - September 25, 2010 in a solo show at David B. Smith Gallery in Denver, CO. www.davidbsmithgallery.com

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