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Concentrating on abstract artistic elements (color, shape, line, texture, composition, space, etc.), my content emerges without any intentional effort. I play with symbols and how we “read” them and make meaning from them. My works explore space: both actual physical space and the illusion of space. Juxtapositions and relationships are core to my art. I also love to create beauty.
The letters/landscape/faux encaustic series is my current focus. The basis of this work is a more or less abstract landscape-type space and imagery. A variety of trees that I have photographed combine with various letter and number forms – handwriting exercises using the Roman alphabet, calligraphy of the Cyrillic alphabet, stenciled letters and numbers, etc – to both create and negate spatial illusions. The letters and trees are both simply symbols, as are the paint strokes, drawing marks, acrylic textures, colors, and bits of collaged paper.
These works are often mistaken for encaustic, but they are completely acrylic, no wax is used. Hence, the acrylic faux encaustic label. It is basically a collage process, done in layers, and includes painting and drawing where the work invites it.
This series evolved from a spontaneous and unconscious convergence of several experimental directions, and it is only after the creation and exhibition of the works that I began to understand what they might be about. Basically, I am intrigued with how we “read” various symbol systems, and how we add and/or subtract in order to make sense of what we see. Humans will work to create meaning from what is presented.
In playing with both actual space (thick layers of transparent acrylic) and the illusion of space, my work combines the traditional idea of art as a window on the world with the modern idea of art being about the two dimensional reality of the materials, surfaces, and the hand of the artist. Letters and trees create or negate space due to a manipulation of size, position, direction, color, chroma and value, as do the paint strokes, drawing marks, acrylic textures and collage elements.
A few of these works contain musical notation; most do not. In the beginning, when I had never used it, viewers often told me that they loved my use of music, and this puzzled me. My guess is that the lyrical qualities of the landscape imagery are echoed by the lyrical qualities of the letters and numbers. The trees and letters and other elements set up repetitions and intervals that create rhythms. Viewers were feeling music! So, I began to include it along with the letters and numbers.
A visitor to a solo show of this series in August 2009 expressed it better than I can:
“I stepped through the door and felt my jaw drop…. The impact of everything taken together was just beautiful to behold. Then, I walked up to and away from all the pieces and there was interest and involvement with all of them no matter where I stood in the room, up close, far away, from the side - I was always engaged and entranced, mesmerized actually. I loved the way the calmness and simplicity from afar became complex and detailed up close. There wasn’t a thing I would add or take away. Every piece was serene yet complex and the show itself did the same thing. It was all totally complete and I just loved being surrounded by the work and in that space.”
Born in Connecticut, Debi Pendell currently lives and works in the Eclipse Mill in North Adams MA. She holds a B.A from Central Connecticut State University and an M.A.L.S from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Pendell is a 1999 recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship Grant from the Greater Hartford Arts Council. She participated in CowParade 2000 in New York City, an event in which more than 500 life-sized fiberglass cows, painted by various artists, were displayed throughout the 5 boroughs; Pendell's was on Broadway. In 2007 Pendell was granted a 5-week artist residency in Bulgaria by the Griffis Foundation of New London CT and the Orpheus Foundation of Sofia, Bulgaria.
Pendell's work is in the permanent collections of The District Art Gallery and Museum, Smolyan, Bulgaria; OppenheimerFunds Inc., New York, NY, Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore MD, The D'Amour Center for Cancer Care in Springfield, MA, and, in Connecticut, St. Francis Hospital, Hartford Hospital, Naugatuck Valley Technical Community College, Hamilton Sundstrand and West Woods School, along with several private collectors in the United States, Canada, Bulgaria, Switzerland and Germany.
Pendell's work has been exhibited in Bulgaria at the Palace of Culture in the capital city of Sofia and The District Art Gallery & Museum in Smolyan, as well as in many galleries in the Northeast United States, including: The Gallery at the Pen & Brush, New York NY; Mass Mutual in Springfield MA; Young & Constantin Gallery in Wilmington VT; The Eclipse Gallery, NAACO Gallery, Gallery 51, and Kolok Gallery, all in North Adams MA, Ferrin Gallery in Pittsfield MA, Gallery 100, Saratoga Springs NY, and, in Connecticut, SmallSpace Gallery at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, The Promenade Gallery at The Bushnell in Hartford, 100 Pearl Street Gallery in Hartford, The Norman Stevens Gallery at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and the Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University in Middletown.
Pendell’s work is pictured and discussed in the books Rethinking Acrylic: Radical Solutions For Exploiting The World's Most Versatile Medium by Patti Brady, and Acrylic Innovation: Styles & Techniques Featuring 64 Visionary Artists by Nancy Reyner.
"I am so proud of what is happening here. Keep it going!"