"...plant a garden in which strange plants grow, and mysteries bloom."
- Ken Kesey (interview, The Paris Review 1994)
Denise Sfraga is a New York-based artist working in an assortment of genres including photography, painting, and collage. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Long Island University, C.W. Post College in Brookville, New York.
Nature has always been an important and integral part of Sfraga's creative life. As a visual artist and avid gardener, the life cycle of plants has always been at the root of her creative energies and exploration. Working in her own garden and experiencing its constant state of flux, from seed germination, leaf and flower growth, and the dispersion of the next generation of seeds, to the final stages of plant decay, Sfraga witnesses an ever-evolving landscape of life forms from which she draws visual inspiration.
Elizabeth Saperstein, in her essay for the exhibition HyperAccumulators, which she co-curated with Alexandra Rutsch Brock, writes..."Sfraga's luminous drawings conjure beautiful but poisonous plants with exotic names. Her glowing, surreal forms recall the cutout animation of Fantastic Planet, the 1970's sci-fi film about humans living on a strange planet. Biomorphic tentacles and pods have a dreamy, psychedelic quality. Glowing edges contrast with the chalky, burnished quality achieved by layering marker and pencil".
Michael David, artist and curator of her solo show Poison Garden at M.David & Co., writes in the catalogue introduction..."Sfraga's process is obsessive and deceptive, just like her complex subjective matter. Her work first appears smooth and without overt gesture, but upon closer inspection, we see surfaces that are tirelessly reworked and made up of countless micro-adjustments. They're infused with lyrically lurid color, creating a surface and image that is simultaneously violent and subsumed. The results are beautiful, dark, luminous, seductive, and disturbing all at once."
This exhibition, Strange Brew, presented Sfraga’s latest works, including drawings and paintings of various sizes, all of which are botanically inspired. Through Sfraga’s unique artistic lens, the exhibition immersed visitors in a captivating world of botanical wonders and left a lasting impression on everyone.
“The biology of plants, nature, and the natural order has always been and continues to be an important and integral part of my creative life. As both an inquisitive observation-oriented artist and avid gardener, I’ve always found inspiration in exploring the various stages in the life cycle of plants, from early germination and growth, to seed dispersion and decay. This recent body of work anchors an inventory of organic shapes, layered textures, and earthen colors within a subtle niche of reverence and remembrance – a testament to the artistic, cultural, and symbolic heritage of plant life throughout history. Utilizing a wide variety of mediums including photography, paint, found and natural materials, each piece attempts to capture quiet spiritual energy that radiates a meditative presence.”
- Denise Sfraga
To learn more about artist Denise Sfraga, please visit www.denisesfraga.com.
This exhibition was supported in part by Queens Rising, a multi disciplinary arts celebration created to highlight the borough's culture and creative diversity.