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Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

Review: Christie DeNizio creates abstract beauty in a world of chaos 

Paintings by exhibiting McEachern artist Christie DeNizio.
Paintings by exhibiting McEachern artist Christie DeNizio.

Christie DeNizio is the most recent artist on display at the McEachern Art Center in downtown Macon. Her exhibit, “How to Fold a Paper Boat,” is full of vibrant, breathtaking, yet simple images made of random objects that still fully grab the audience’s attention. DeNizio has created a world of small, insignificant objects that coalesce into one whole. 

“Within a shallow space, pieces of ephemera are arranged into collages and shadow boxes. Ephemera are items meant to exist for only a short time, but often saved for sentimental reasons. Each painting is a poetic record,” according to the description of the exhibit. 

With the use of inspiration from famous works, drawings, postcards, tarot cards and other print materials, the details in DeNizio’s art are amazing. 

DeNizio currently serves as visiting assistant professor of art at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and as an instructor in the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. 

Upon first examination, her paintings showcase items that may not seem important to all but are important to the person who receives them. The painting “Counterfeit Strawberries,” for example, portrays simple paper materials that are thrown in a pile.

The painting shows order in chaos, as the strawberries shine bright red against the dark green surrounding them. The sun peaks out its head slowly, rising gently from the chaotic pattern to rest in the bottom left corner before the watcher’s eye travels slowly up to the bright, colorful birds that dominate the left side of the painting. 

DeNizio uses a metaphor found on a flyer posted in the art center, to explain her intentions: “Imagine a paper boat. We have followed the instructions and spent time carefully pressing edges and folding each plane until transformed. It will float, but not for long. And yet still, we fold out little paper boats and set them upon the waves.” 

Ivy Clarke
"Manifold" by exhibiting McEachern artist Ayako Kurimoto.

By looking at the images, I see how DeNizio has chosen to infuse her own memories into her medium. Her work is influenced by where she was, where she is now and where she hopes to be.  

I saw the influence of the digitized world in the piece “Body Tapestry.” The urge of female empowerment and strength of women is showcased in the bold orange and the calm blue of “Double Crown Annie.” 

You can also see the importance of diving into a history beyond just what is known, looking at the solid material behind the bright, elaborately patterned facade conveyed in “Burial.” 

While each piece is different in its complexity, the unifying theme is that there is no unifying theme. This exhibition shows that there is no true whole, for each piece is just a scrap of paper within the much broader fabric of the world. We as humans try to picture this whole. By giving things their meaning, we ourselves make them important. 

That is the beauty of the exhibition: the different pictures allowed me to come up with my own definitive ideas as to what the painting referred to, if it referred to anything. There is a secret meaning for every person, which makes discovering that meaning and gazing at the paintings even more poignant. 

While I would argue that her work is not necessarily for everyone, what is for everyone is the ability to decide for themselves what the paintings mean and how the paintings affect them. Upon first examination, these paintings show nothing. Upon deeper examination, however, I, and other viewers, can see the ways in which attention was paid to each detail. 

DeNizio paints from the heart, using her own experiences to draft an image that bombards the senses and has a unique meaning for everyone. It is this power to create something from nothing that allows her work to shine. Overall, I really enjoyed this art installation. It was different from what I was expecting, but I thought the artist showed tremendous talent and control in what she created. 

DeNizio’s paintings will be on display at the McEachern Art Center in downtown Macon until Oct. 19.


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