We had the good fortune of connecting with Dena Novak and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dena, why did you pursue a creative career?
Recently I’ve been thinking about that question a lot as my child hood elementary art school teacher just passed away Susie Berkson was my role model and what I wanted to create for myself I wanted to create a space full of Cat Stevens sunlight and art. And I’ve tried to do that as an art teacher for many years and I really enjoyed that and my own personal art has traveled along with me ever since I can remember really as well I’ve always considered myself an artist. I.e. i’ve always really just loved making art and as a young child I used to go to the art institute of Chicago a lot and it was really influential and when I was able to go to college I was able to go to the yard institute Chicago for two years and that was incredibly instrumental in my becoming a painter and ceramicist and kind of now my new iteration is an abstract painter.?.?.?. I’m not really questioning the painter part here I don’t think I’ve ever really been anything else but an artist.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My newest series is called “Corporeal Abstractions” My paintings are about alchemy, the seemingly magical process of transformation, creation and combination. They are visceral, dense and packed with material. Incredibly thick and heavy, I obsessively layer on oil paint to build the body of my work. I paint intuitively, scratching and carving the layers as if they were clay, until a painting emerges. I love to attack the paint in a frenetic dance of marking. Colliding colors blend into each and create a punk rock cacophony of creative birth. My style of painting transforms the paint from physical material into abstract landscapes, figures and dreams. I channel the collective unconscious, ancestral memories and divine feminine into my work. My paintings are limited in size because I struggle with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a rare connective tissue disorder. EDS is a chronic pain condition and joint disease which affects my right side, especially my hand. So like my art, I embrace transformation shifting from brush to pallet knife to accommodate less dexterity. My work frees me to transcend my physical limitations to create paintings that express hope and longing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
So I think if my best friend were visiting From my home town of Chicago I want to show them the beach I would take them up and drive to Oxnard and eat fish tacos on the way I really think that’s what I would chill anybody here is just different parts of the land at the beach the beauty of California
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Make a huge shout out to David Lloyd and Yoomi Kim at the LA compound. David has been a mentor and teacher to me these last years. It’s kind a cool shout out story so before I met David I had been doing more figurative work and took a little break and decided to just out of the blue go to an abstract art course so I go to Brentwood Art school and I see David Lloyd‘s work and I think this is definitely maybe somebody I want to check out so I go to his class and I have I really have not done a lot of abstract painting again though my background is in painting and Clay and I start talking to him and I have no idea all I know is that this flow of kind of unconscious abstract energy came outThat was about two years ago and I have been painting nonstop since then and David Lloyd continues to be a mentor and friend to me and I have been able to share a studio in the same compound is him with a wonderful partner and creativity and painter -Yoomi Kim I think knowing David as a mentor he’s one of the most generous teachers I know but I like what he says to me he goes Dina your already a good painter but I want you to be great and having somebody believe in you that way believing in your greatness has gone along way and believing in my own greatness and believing in the greatness of my paintings
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Art Photos are by Michael Underwood