Denise is an artist working with encaustics. She has been a RWS member since January 2021.
Art making is a form of meditation for Denise. It’s a pathway to surrender, a pathway to self exploration, and an offering. She started contemplative practice when she became a new mother. She felt as though she were drowning and a friend of hers recommended a spiritual director in The Christian Contemplative Prayer Tradition. Denise saw her once a month and would sit in her office and cry the entire session for the first six years. It was a release and it was so good. “I would say the most important tool in a contemplative practice is self compassion.” And if you can truly be self compassionate, then extending compassion to anybody else is a walk in the park.” Self compassion is forgiving yourself for what you perceive as mistakes, for feeling like you’re not good enough. Denise was a spiritual seeker from a very young age. She wanted to know the meaning of things and wanted to connect to something bigger than herself. She was trying to understand that. “When you’re a seeker you do examine the religions out there and what they say and look for things that make you say, ‘Well is that true?’ And you look for people who can tell you what the truth is.” Her seeking journey came to an end with the painful disappointment of realizing no one can tell you the answer; you have to become comfortable with not knowing. The process of making art is a form of healing for Denise because it allows her to process her childhood experiences. She’s not sure how it works, but believes it does. “I think somehow the journey I’ve gone through is translated, the ups and downs. Art becomes a tool to navigate the interior of ourselves.” We all go through trauma with different variables, which is relative to the individual, but the artwork heals and connects us.
Denise has an inner drive to communicate and give back, but she doesn’t think about the viewer. Her aim is to be as honest as possible to her experience. “You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You have a unique voice that still relates to the greater whole.” Her work is mostly abstract. When she got started, Denise’s biggest challenge was being comfortable with her own language and trusting in that. “Taking risks is important for pieces that make an impact. You realize the pieces that have the handprints on them are unique. The artists were fearless.” She remembers when she went to the MOMA while visiting her daughter in San Francisco and saw a pottery collection that had pieces that were perfect. The ones that stood out were the ones that were a little askew, a little tilt, imperfection–those were the ones that she found most beautiful. “I think that’s important to bring into the work, the flaws. Celebrate those.” The imperfections are what transform the work.
Denise can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.