Thursday, May 19, 2011

Featured Artist: Michael Dennis

During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Michael Dennis.

How big a story can you tell in one square foot? 

A Whale's Life: Flukes, 2011

In the 19th century thousands of men went to sea to slaughter whales. Whale oil lubricated and lit the industrial revolution, and whale bone literally propped up Victorian fashion. Although the industry was global in nature, the hunting of sperm whales was almost exclusively an American effort. From the ports of New Bedford and Nantucket, Macys and Starbucks sailed forth to reap their first fortunes. But what did they know about the whale? Probably less than a land-side huntsman knew about the deer he chased.

Flukes, Detail, 2011

In this triptych, the whale gets his moments. Here, swimming as if soaring in the air; there a snack of calamari; and then the moment of contact with our species. A sperm whale may live to be 75 years, if he escapes the harpoon. At its peak, the world population of sperm whales had to be close to two million. Two great slaughters, one in the 19th century and one after WWII, have reduced that to about 300,00 cetaceans. And still we know so little.
A Whale's Life: Jonah, 2011
Art is about surface. Paint on canvas, pencil on paper, the world is compressed to a thin film. Imagine that film thickening, imagine it as felt and fabric, being shaped and distorted to match the surface of its subject. But even as the surface is manipulated, the artist has to contemplate the structure that supports it. And in understanding the structure, a little comprehension occurs. Some structure is related to the art of sewing, some imposed by the nature of the subject, and some by the environment in which the tableau is posed. All that is left right out in the open, so that the art may be approached from all sides, not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.
Jonah, Detail, 2011

The three panels are crafted from acrylic felt.  Water was created in cotton fabric. The careful observer will find glass, semi-precious stones, wood and copper.  Harpoons, lances and fittings are forged from iron wire. The mounting blocks are oak from the seawall of Boston harbor. Dan Alexander of Leaning Barn Iron Works executed the frames.
A Whale's Life: Kraken

Michael Dennis has been a freelance graphic artist since 2002, doing business as MDIM. He graduated in 2010 from Pennsylvania College of Art & Design with a major in Illustration, and may eventually get a diploma.

Kraken, detail

Previous public exhibitions include the 2010 Landis Valley Outdoor Art Show, and a  barrier at Lancaster Amtrak Station, where CH&E Construction  selected 12 student artists whose work will be displayed until renovations at the station are complete, in 2011 or 2012.

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