The Art360 series, part of Adults’ Night Out, continues on April 4 with artist Dean Reynolds. See our interview with him below.
Q: How would you describe your art?
A: My work is a combination of my interests in science fiction, fantasy, myths, fables, fairy tales, surrealism with biology and genetics mixed in. You could say that its Sigmund Freud meets Lewis Carroll meets the Wizard of Oz. It is my take on the contemporary world, the magic and strangeness of the life we live today. It’s a window to my world.
Q: Where does your greatest inspiration come from?
A: There is a moment when an idea comes to me; this moment may be when it’s late in the evening, or walking to the store. It is a mere impression, a sort of hazy image that appears in my mind and I sketch to put it down. The image is like a seed that I have no idea what it will really look like only that it will have certain characteristics. In a way that a tree is planted and will have certain things that you know will be there but as it grows follows its own logic. There might be an image that jumps out or there might be one that has been floating around my mind for some time. These things find the right time to reveal themselves. To give it life there, it is a dance of me building and creating and the work telling me where it wants to go. The inspiration is the mixture of that which is around me, stories and images of the past and the mysterious internal impulses that seem to produce a seed-like idea that I must bring into the world.
Q: What is your favorite piece and why?
A: If I may I will choose two pieces just to be interesting. The first would be Demelza of the East, the image of the woman all in black posed in an environment of candy plants and small animals around her feet. Around her floats these dots like bubbles from a grand bubble machine. A halo of golden petals emanated from behind her head. The other is the woman walking the three headed giraffe with jackrabbit heads. She is near a tree with a smiling face on it and around the path are strange plants, mushrooms with eyes, plants with human like noses. The reason I pick those two is that each represent the direction that my work is going and where I am thinking.
The first, of Demelza, is the great breakthrough as an artist. There I began to realize that I have the imaginative power to create any environment, to inhabit it with people and creatures. This is the beginning of the idea of the window to this world that I invite the viewer to not just enjoy but to imagine themselves into.
The second, The Walker, is where I have begun to master or at least approach mastery of this creative work. Here I bring both a real subject, the woman, into a fantastical but substantial world. I worked to understand the way giraffes look and walk, what a jack rabbit head looks like. Here I mixed the two together to create a new creature that is both mythical but also a reality of genetic manipulation today. This work is where I will be hopefully heading towards. The greater and greater ability to bring imagination, the real, and the understanding of possibilities together and to make them live in a visual sense.
Also, the two women who are the subjects of the paintings are close to my heart and dear to me as friends. I cannot help it when I feel a little affectionate when I look at those two works.
Q: Do you think that science influences your work at all? If so, how?
A: I would say it is tangential. It is rather like a car or cell phone, enhancing the way we can do things but not defining what one is or does. That being said I think of the vast information and knowledge that all areas of science have brought to us. It seems that every year the world and the universe we live in gets bigger but also stranger, more bizarre but also the fantastic invention of what is out there is truly the greatest teacher for me as an artist.
Who could have conceived of dinosaurs? Dragons, as awesome as we humans could conceive, cannot come close to the inventive genius of nature when you think of those creatures. Think of the life that might be discovered on other planets. What will they look like? Who knows and who could really accurately guess? When explorers journeyed to the depths of the ocean there was life, strange and brilliant thriving.
So I will contradict what I said in the first paragraph. I am not a scientist and it all sometimes seems beyond me. But therein lies the artist in me who takes what I see and lets it germinate. Biology is something that I have a little understanding of. I do know that it is about life creating, changing and living. Life is always mutating and changing. We change and we also change the environment we live in which changes ourselves in the process. Life is inventive, changing the structure of things over time. I take what I see or what is discovered and let that be part of what I do.
Q: Do you think that science will continue to influence your work in the future and in what ways?
A: I am certain that it will. How, I do not know but I can speculate, and what a foolish endeavor that can be. I am certain as new knowledge comes from further investigation of everything we will be even more taken aback and humbled. I think of what might be found on other planets, Mars for example. If there is some form of microscopic organism what will it look like and how does it survive? Will there be new life discovered on this planet? A new species? What will it look like? Will there be a new dinosaur unearthed and what will that look like!? Will any of that change what I do? I must conclude with the idea that I have no idea what will change in my work but it will be affected in some way by what new discoveries will be found.
Q: How do you think that having your art displayed on such a large surface like the Planetarium dome will influence your work and the viewer’s perception of your work?
A: I am a little nervous about it all. I work in a way that is centered on the human scale. I have no idea what to expect or how it will look on such a large surface. Will it be lost on such a large format or will it make it even more effective? I do work in a way that is about details, lots and lots of details. My paintings are about getting someone to come up to the work, to get close, to see all the details. It is about getting a viewer to enter in. This way of displaying my paintings and drawings might make the work even more inviting.
Visit Arizona Science Center, April 4 to meet Dean Reynolds and explore his work in a unique and immersive experience as it comes to life on the dome of the Dorrance Planetarium!