09 Mar Denise Stewart-Sanabria Works on Display at O’More College of Design
A trio of confident young faces greets visitors as they enter the front door of the Abbey Leix Mansion at O’More College of Design. They aren’t students, however. They are the whimsical works of Denise Stewart-Sanabria.
The Knoxville-based artist’s series of life-sized charcoal-on-plywood drawings of modern people startled and mystified guests of O’More College during this month’s Art Crawl in downtown Franklin.
The free standing and wall-mounted pieces command attention from observers. Stewart-Sanabria describes them as, “a fusion of two dimensions and three dimensions….You can hang them on the wall but if you put them in the middle of the room they become free-standing sculptures, but they’re still flat, so it’s like ‘2.5D’.”
The subjects of the plywood drawings range from Stewart-Sanabria’s own daughter to complete strangers. She explains, “I wanted virtual reality people – people unaware of my presence. So I would walk around exhibit receptions with my camera on my hip and snap photos of unsuspecting visitors.” These candid photos are then brought to life on plywood in a surprising way that makes onlookers do a double take. You’d swear they move out of the corner of your eye.
On display alongside Stewart-Sanabria’s plywood drawings are several paintings from a series inspired by food and traditional wallpaper patterns. Stewart-Sanabria creates playful and subversive still life paintings that she calls “anthropomorphic” because they intend to show human behavior and things that people do, such as creating foods so bright and decorated that they almost become inedible.
Stewart-Sanabria seeks to impart a narrative in her paintings that juxtapose the romantic scenes on the wallpaper with 21st century manmade snack foods, showing two starkly different forms of an idealized world. For example, in Post Atomic Candy, Stewart-Sanabria adds images of Godzilla and Mothra to a Japanese toile that is utilized as backdrop for brightly-colored Japanese candy that seem to be mutated from the atomic blast that Godzilla and Mothra were born from.
Denise Stewart- Sanabria’s imaginative work will be on display in O’More College’s Abbey Leix Mansion for the month of March. Guests will leave the gallery inspired, and maybe a little hungry.