Artist Bio

Denise Burge works in a variety of media, including drawing, animation, film, and fibers. Her solo work, consisting primarily of painting and works in fabric, has been widely commissioned and collected, and included in two Quilt National exhibitions. Her collaborative work in film, animation and installation has been shown in several national and international film festivals. She has been awarded multiple awards and grants, including competitive residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Fine Art Work Center in Provincetown, and, most recently, the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. She has taught in the department of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati since 1992.


Artist Statement

Imagery of the tropical is usually glamorous, a sort of air-brushed cultural fantasy of profusion and sensuality. My work attempts to expose its more corporeal reality, depicting vernacular tropical living spaces that one finds a few blocks back from the beachfront.

The works in this application are quasi-documentary, using a combination of my own photographs and appropriated commercial images to depict an ‘elsewhere’ that is in fact no place at all. My process is one of culling and digitally collaging material from personal travel photos, found photos, and art-historical references. To create the final works, I return to the analog, and physically translate these spaces yet again by painting or quilting them. I choose to paint or quilt based on the level of detail or painterliness to which the image lends itself. The quilts combine painted fabric with densely embroidered elements, aiming to keep the eye on the illusory surface of the work. The paintings on paper depict ephemerality- momentary phenomena of lush light, and loose arrangements of ordinary elements. Painterly marks disturb the image, reminding the viewer of the flat surface.

From the perspective of being in an older body that doesn’t want to give up, I respond to all of the myth of ‘tropical’ with a new depth of feeling, leavened by a deeper understanding of mortality. By creating spaces that look back at the viewer in this way, I hope to challenge the motivations behind the desiring gaze, with an acknowledgement of surface beauty and spatial play.

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