Denese Sanders | Artist, Educator, Founder
Denese Sanders was born in Greensboro, NC to a family with southern roots, three older sisters, an affectionate mother and a father who was a nationally distinguished political cartoonist. From a very early age she imagined herself being an artist when she grew up. She started making prints at UW-Madison in 1983 and later began incorporating sculpture and book arts into her work while getting her masters degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Today Sanders combines whatever media necessary to best express her ideas.
Over the course of her career, she has worked extensively in arts education and community building in the arts. She founded a collective printmaking studio, Below the Surface, in Minneapolis (1989-99) and last year, she established Open Ground Studios in Seaside – the first community art studio on the central coast with an emphasis in printmaking and book arts. This endeavor won the “Innovator of the Year” award in the Monterey Bay Regional Business Plan Competition of 2013.
Her work has been widely exhibited in the Midwest, the Central Coast and in Japan and Chicago. In addition to teaching classes and workshops at Open Ground Studios, Sanders has been adjunct faculty in several higher eduction institutions including the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Saint Cloud State University, Monterey Peninsula College and California State University, Monterey Bay.
The journey of growing up and being a grown up are inextricably linked. With this body of work, Sanders investigates relationships to self, family, and identity, as the cord that runs throughout this journey. Family and connections are central in her work, as they are in her world. As a stepmother, Sanders calls to question nature vs nurture, both in her own strengths and assumptions and those with which she parents and was parented. There are certain restrictions and choices inherent to that role, which create many opposing forces.
Two recurrent images in her recent work are fences and ropes. Fences are natural boundaries intended to protect, and to separate from the unknown. The rope as a physical and metaphorical subject has the power to transcend the duality of connecting and letting go, of constraint and will, and of the illusions of our subjective realities. DNA is the fiber that created us, and the complex journey that follows is a universal story where diverse strands intersect, hopefully enabling the cord that holds us together to grow stronger so we can all go out and play with confidence.
p.s. “We” never got a horse, and only rode horses on the occasional trail ride during family vacations.