Diana Shpungin dedicates her artistic practice to challenging ideas of drawing through sculptural form. At Dieu Donné she was able to translate her methods, trading one ordinary material (the pencil), for another common material (paper)—essential components of a drawing. Themes of memory, superstition, failure and domestic decay are paired with a dash of looming optimism in the three distinct series of works created during Shpungin’s residency. The series of works Don’t Let The Light In (White), (Stained) and (Gray) incorporate custom molds of boarded-up plywood windows, inspired by Shpungin’s earlier, monumental Drawing of A House project. The molds for these works were cast with pigmented cotton, allowing for incredible detail of the wood grain, which the artist then enhanced with touches of graphite, abaca and linen screws. Thinking about notions of an artist’s self-imposed hermetic nature, the works are displayed as boarded-up windows in the interior of a space— blocking any view, inspiration, or light. The resulting artwork is an exercise in contemplating and accepting the blockage. In Deflective Surface, Lucky Misfortune and Negative Positive, Shpungin collected numerous broken wall mirrors (and smashed many in the studio). The broken mirrors were cast in reverse by pulling large sheets of pigmented casting cotton in varieties of gray tones and luminous silver pigment. Not one to mess with the feasibility of a superstition, Shpungin literally and figuratively made a negative a positive—absorbing the bad luck by filling the crack that caused it. The mirrors no longer allow for a reflection, they are now omens for good luck. And lastly, creating a customized “graphite” paper from abaca, gray and silver luminous pigment, Shpungin experimented with papier-mâché applications and tragic (yet hopeful) domestic objects. One example on view, A Light From Below depicts a papier-mâché fallen chandelier still anchored to the ceiling by a linear chain with the addition of white cotton paper atop a low pedestal with a graphite pencil drawing of the chandelier’s shadow. The chandelier can still metaphorically provide light or at the very least is hopeful it will.
Daniel Wiener is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Though he is known primarily for intense and viscerally arresting sculptures, Daniel also works on watercolors, animations, pen and ink drawings and is currently working on a series of pressed paintings based on the technique he developed at Dieu Donné. Wiener has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship (2012), New York Foundation Grant (1995) and Yaddo (1981).
Established in 1990, the Workspace Program offers annual residencies to New York State emerging artists to create new work in handmade paper. The primary goals of this program are to encourage emerging artists to explore the creative possibilities of handmade paper and to develop this art form through a process of collaboration and experimentation. The Workspace Program is presented to the public through annual exhibitions as well as through print, digital and online formats.