Artist Profile: Dana DeAno - Chicago

Photo by  Kerri Sherman

Hi Dana! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a mid-career visual artist living and working in Chicago.  I'm also a mother of two teenage girls and I like to swim, garden, learn about natural health, and study Buddhism.  

What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I received my BA from DePaul University and my Masters in Paint-Drawing from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Prior to becoming a full-time artist, I taught Design and Color Theory.

When did you begin your art practice? How has it transformed into the pieces you create now? 
I have made art for as long as I can remember. The work that I am working on now started from disassembling old children's books and exploring with fabrics and textiles, as well as utilizing found objects from graduate school. It was a quite natural and seamless transition into my current work. I had a professor in graduate school tell me that she thought I would end up making fiber-related work, and at the time I thought she was crazy. How right she was!

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What are 2.5-dimensional drawings?  
Two and a half drawings lie somewhere between flat work and three-dimensional work. Part of my process involves molding and sculpting materials into my paper surfaces. The goal is to make them read as one, integrate them and blend them almost as if they come from the inside-out. I love the intimacy of paper.

What do you feel when you're creating?
On the right day when the stars are lined up, I can have that LOVIN' feeling, the kind that hits deep in your soul and turns everything upside down.  

Where do you create your pieces? What needs to be in your space to inspire you?
I mainly create in my studio in Evanston. I prefer natural light, something that is talking to me, and always music. I also create often in my one-room country schoolhouse in rural Wisconsin that my husband and I have been working on for the last twelve years. I go up there two to three times a year for a week with my pup, just to work. It's lonely and hard, often not talking to a human for days, but I equally love it deeply. Many times throughout these trips I hear myself saying "thank god I like myself," not in a cocky way, but in a good company way! I think that is essential for such excursions, because I have the time to both talk, and listen to myself.


Do you have any advice for other artists wanting to show and sell their art?
The advice I would give to any other artist is pretty much the same thing I tell my teenage daughters all the time: just to be true to YOU, listen to your inner voice and your calling. Be humble, experiment and take risks.  Don't worry so much about what others think, just march to the beat of your own drum. The rest simply falls into place. As far as selling work, I would say you just need to find your audience. It took me a long time to find this, but once I did, many of the pieces fell into place. 

What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face?
Setbacks and challenges...there are always nos and rejections - that's just part of the deal. The biggest personal challenge for me is in holding my studio time sacred. Another big challenge is not letting myself get sucked into the computer, which I have learned to keep down a floor for this reason, and my phone needs to be out of sight!  

At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other? How have women supported you? 
I love helping other women, and love when others come to me for advice on such matters. I have a dear friend that has become a sort of business- marketing "partner" for me. I find this extremely helpful. I tell other women to seek this partnership out, as it has proved to be invaluable to me. I also think it's important to have other women in your field as mentors, this is something that I have been fortunate enough to have most of my career, mostly from graduate school.

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What women bring you inspiration?
Many, many, many women inspire me, way too many to list. In particular, women who break norms, go against the grain or behave "badly" often get to me in the best kind of way. So many female artists inspire me daily.  I think about Tara Donovan; I think about Elizabeth Neel; I think about Jenny Holzer - and wonder what they are up to in their studios. 

What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
I am trying to learn how to mold paper in a way that would benefit my drawings and am also working with some new materials like watercolor paper. I am also trying to get better about writing daily about my work, something that I should and need to do, but it often gets put on the back burner, unfortunately.   

What are some of your favorite places in the Chicago area?
Some of my favorite places in Chicago include Merz ApothecaryThe Farnsworth House and The Lizzadro is one of my favorite museums.  I grew up here and I went there often as a child and then brought my two girls often when young.  It's super charming and unique. I never tire of the Arts Club of Chicago or the adjoining Drawing Room bar.

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