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Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show artist Dana Roes


Dana Roes received her MFA in Painting from the University of Pennsylvania and has received several notable awards including a Fulbright Fellowship and a Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Residency. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States as well as in Sweden, Iceland, Australia and China. Prior to teaching at FSW, Dana was a Professor of Painting and served as the Director of Graduate Painting and Advising at the Savannah College of Art and Design; she was also a Professor of Painting at Carnegie Mellon University. She is currently the Chair of Fine Arts and Humanities where she was the recipient of the NISOD award for teaching excellence.


Artist statement:

My time spent making paintings has been about exploring psychological and material space and my place within it. I continually revisit the notion of voids; missing pieces, inaccessible or unknowable spaces. Whether it is the psychological space of a lie, the mysterious space of multiple realities, or the indescribable space I feel when I close my eyes and face the sun; it is resistance to containment and the urge towards expansion that drives my work.

The body of work, Threshold, speaks of the state in-between definition; neither coming nor going, neither material nor immaterial. In these works it is the negative space that interests me the most. I wish to have the viewer’s eyes rest in the areas that have no marks or forms in them, to find satisfaction in transit; comfortable with the ambiguity before arrival. Over the past two decades, I have used different vocabularies to express the same experience: the squirming discomfort of movement and the relief found in being released. At the same time, I keep returning to the feeling of entanglement and all that binds us to material reality.

After exclusively being an abstract painter for my entire career, the idea of solid material that existed long before life as we know it has become quite subversive and alluring to me. While the representational paintings in Marking Time, black beaches of Iceland evoke the concrete and familiar, I still understand them as abstractions. The elusive presence of a powerful force that is both very real and intrinsically resistant to representation remains at the heart of my work.

My current series, Future Tense  returns to abstraction to investigate the coexistence of various modes of existence. Rather than being preoccupied with transitional states and the indecipherable, these paintings resonate with the acceptance of radical difference in future locations. Watching the ways in which the conditions on our planet our changing–both environmentally and politically—I find myself returning to the words of Viktor Frankl who wrote, “That which gives light must endure burning.” I move through hours that turn into years contemplating potential outcomes to this narrative. I create monolithic forms and search for forgotten optimism through color. I am slowly detaching from present comforts as I am looking forward to the future.

May 4, 2022.

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