Briefly describe the work you do.
My creative work resides primarily in the realm of lensless photographic works. I am interested in time and its multiplicities; the poetry of space and being, and experience. I work with both long term and short term projects. One of my long term projects Ways of Being is a body of work begun in 2006 in which I use a large format pinhole camera.
I am also very much interested in cross-disciplinary approaches to art-making such as the sciences and art. A recent project (Supercluster Arion and Other Phenomena) gravitating in areas of connections and time, I worked with slugs on silver gelatin photographic paper to create nebulae like images in my darkroom.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I have always been motivated and driven from internal influences. I like to be in motion, to be working with my hands and doing. I have an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and and MFA in Photography. I worked as a a field biologist for a number of years before undertaking my graduate work and professional creative practice. Inquiry, discovery, and exploration all permeate throughout my life. I can’t differentiate the wanderer in the woods looking looking for slugs from the image-maker, they are one and the same.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I maintain a very active studio practice. I set aside time each day to address the business aspects: email, inquiries, submissions, etc, etc. I am surrounded by my creative practice- experience, ideas, materials, ideas for materials. I attempt to tie my internal and the external worlds together to communicate something. When I am in the physical act of making, I prefer to work alone without distractions.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
Any time that I can carve out is the best time.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
I embrace discovery and play more than I did five years ago. Both are natural extensions of my nature, and it permeates into creating. And I’ve learned to accept that not every creative act undertaken becomes something more.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Over the course of my life many have inspired me in as many different ways: family who encourage me; mentors in my professional life, and friends to share life with. Of course there are writers, painters, photographers, sculptors whose work I admire- those who have stayed with me, and those who come and go.
I have always been interested in magical realism and Romanticism… and philosophy, ideas of time, experience in nature, the cross over of the arts and sciences. Mary Oliver, Jeanette Winterson, Italo Calvino, Marquez, Dr. Alan Lightman, Joseph Campbell- these are all writers I admire. As for impacts on my work, I leave it to others around me to discern that.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I’ve had many occupations, but none have been as rewarding or satisfying as the life of making and teaching. My favorite beyond these was when I worked as a field biologist looking for wildlife and hunting rare plants in the woods and in swamps. I romanticize it all now, but it was generally a very physically demanding job working in all sorts of conditions- thunderstorms, snow, heat, poisonous plants, insects… you name it. I also feel that work in the natural environment contributed to me as a person and is as much about my curiosity, discovery, and experience that is part of my creative practice.
About DM Witman
Deanna is an award-winning visual artist working primarily in photographic media. Artist, teacher, and explorer, she has been creating innovative work since receiving her MFA from Maine Media College in 2009. As a teacher she seeks to share her passion for learning & discovery, expression, and developing vision. Deanna’s work has been published and exhibited nationally and internationally, and is held in many private collections. In 2013 her work was published in Lenscratch, BETA, and Le Journal de la Photographie, as well as an exhibition catalog for her solo exhibition Supercluster Arion and Other Phenomena which includes an introduction by Dr. Alan Lightman. Deanna currently teaches at Unity College, Maine Media Workshops + College, and the Farnsworth Art Museum. DM is represented by Susan Maasch Fine Art, Portland, ME.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.