Today we’d like to introduce you to Dena Haden.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Not to sound cliché, but art has been a part of who I am since a very young age. I grew up drawing, collecting things and making art out of anything that came my way. I found solace in living in imaginative spaces. It has always been an alternative language to process making my way through the world. With this dialogue, I moved through many phases of my life as a child, to a teen and as an adult. In my late teens and twenties, I became extremely ill and was unable to lead a normal life for about 8 years. During this time my art practice stood by my side and directed me toward the steps forward and kept me staying positive.
Through a healing process with alternative medicine and Chinese acupuncture and herbs, I was back to normal health after many years which has had a major influence on my life, how I see the world and my art practice. I feel eternally grateful for the opportunity to be alive and healthy and to experience life as a human being, which makes my artistic practice even more meaningful and spiritual to me.
Please tell us about your art.
I primarily create sculptures and installations out of natural materials such as fiber, wood, wax, plant material, and kombucha culture. My recent work explores the natural cycle of something coming into form, living, ever-changing and malleable, and the residue it leaves in passing. I set out to create a relationship between parts. These pieces are an investigation of how physical properties function and react together, and at the same time, the work resembles the inert physical reactions inside our bodies, the way they heal themselves and what that healing might produce in terms of visual evidence.
Believing that everything is a parcel of energy, I view making art as a practice to connect; surfacing rhythmic energies and searching through sound, movement, material and my own state of awareness.
I see my artwork and practice as a vessel, part of a larger circle, where the act of creating is just one portion of the larger movement. I think of myself as an investigator of materials and I respond creating work that will then carry on in its own conversation with viewers/people who meet the work through observation and process in their individual ways. Often using, diaphanous materials and open vessels, I work with capturing the light and holding space that otherwise goes ‘unseen’. I am constantly searching through materials and my environment to process the poetry of life, and the presence of each individual moment.
Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Though a creative and artistic path is full of abundance in a non-traditional sense, we still face the challenges of surviving economically. This truly has been a very difficult challenge in my career but I have learned how to navigate through and to keep my practice alive while maintaining financial security. My advice is to listen to your instinctual self, and never give up on your creative practice even if that means for 5 minutes a day you sit down to draw, or once a week you carve out an evening for creativity, the key is to keep the spark going.
Another piece of advice is to find work that is fulfilling and gives you fuel for your creative practice and does not take away from your energy. When I graduated from art school, I had no idea what I was going to do to make a living, but I just kept following my path and intuition which has led me to making a living doing what I love; supporting artists, entrepreneurs and creative people which goes hand in hand with my own practice. As an artist, we have the knowledge and experience to adapt and think out of the box which is so valuable in all corners of the world and in all industries, we are needed now more than ever to be at the table and a part of the shift.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am currently showing my work at the Dorchester Art Project in Dorchester, MA part of the exhibit, “Altarations: A collection of shrines” throughout the summer as well as at the Kelley Stelling Contemporary in Manchester, NH part of the group exhibition “Everything Happens So Much” which runs through September 15th. You can also find my work online at my website www.hadendena.com. I always love to share my work with others and to hear feedback or opportunities for collaboration.
I am also very engaged at activating the local art community through several initiatives:
-the Boston Critique Group, an artist collaborative in Boston, engaging artists in monthly gatherings and group critique sessions. www.bostoncritiquegroup.com
-Superflat New Bedford, is a culture-based, artist led, and neighborhood-driven community revitalization mural art project. It seeks to beautify New Bedford neighborhoods while flattening barriers to the arts. www.superflatnb.org
-Co-Creative Center, is a shared workspace and gallery focusing on establishing a footprint for creative enterprise in the historic downtown to connect, support and celebrate artists and cultural entrepreneurship.
- Address: Berkley, MA
- Website: www.hadendena.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/denahaden
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/dena.haden
Image credits: Dena Haden