Dana Kotler was born in Odessa, Ukraine, grew up in Jerusalem, Israel, and relocated to New York with her family in her teens. She received her MFA from the New York Academy of Art, has shown in a number of solo and group exhibitions, and is a recipient of two Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grants, among others. Dana has taught courses at a summer study abroad program in Dingle, Ireland, as well as in colleges in Boston, MA, and San Diego, CA. Currently, she is working out of her studio in Hoboken, NJ, and teaching courses at Hofstra University. 

Artist Statement

Most of my work wants to live somewhere in between figuration and abstraction, clarity and ambiguity, flatness and sculpture. Each piece develops intuitively, using as its starting point some aspect of experience that is repeatedly on my mind - an essential unease, a memory that I am attempting to come to grips with, a question that I struggle wrapping my mind around, or a concept that I am unable to define. It is usually quite a slow process. I dive into the work by building up what I know about the piece, which is usually not much, and trusting a loose vision, fragments of thoughts, or a sense of how materials, shapes, colors or textures may interact. Then the conversation begins. I try to listen to the work, and see where it takes me, which feels very much like playing. I’m most comfortable making large scale overworked, detailed pieces, since it allows me to have that lengthy conversation. As I spend time with the piece, I find that I grow with it, and often it turns out that it is about something quite different from what I had originally imagined. Often, I sense an image that I can’t explain, and only understand what it truly means after making it. Making the work is akin to thinking out loud for me.

The work usually wants to possess some space of ambiguity. When its content or imagery is too clear, I begin to feel claustrophobic and dogmatic. I want to provide the viewer with a freedom of interpretation, and a space to impose their own associations or meanings upon the work. I tend to avoid literalness, and when I am creating something recognizable, I want its language or materials to feel like something I haven’t quite seen before. This leads me to explore multiple kinds of visual languages and media within each work. The experimentation and discovery this involves forces me to constantly reinvent my wheel.

I imagine it would benefit the viewer to make the very safe assumption that nothing is sure, and that knowledge can distort our vision, letting perception be based on observation, intuition and visceral logic, rather than informed expectations.