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Patricia Denys
Long Beach, CA

My life in art contains a duality, encompassing graphic design on the one hand, and art making in the studio on the other. For over thirty years I have been a working designer, photographer, teacher and studio artist.

I began as a painter, but quickly evolved into a photographer, having studied with Garry Winogrand. I have photographed some of the most significant artists and designers of our time, such as Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Art Spiegelman, Audrey Flack, Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, Paula Scher, Massimo and Lela Vignelli, Rachel Rosenthal, Chuck Close, William Wegman, Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper, Sue Coe, Duane Michals, Charles Schulz, Patrick McDonnell, Chuck Jones, Al Hirschfeld, and have had dialogues with them regarding their practice of art.

I have published one photography book, Animal Magnetism, and am currently working on Artistic Leanings, about artists and the artistic process. Photography was my principal medium for many years. More recently, however, I have incorporated multiple media in my studio efforts, utilizing whatever best accommodates the subject matter, from painting to sculpture to assemblage.

My work in the studio has examined, and continues to examine, society’s relationship with animals. My visual work is concerned with the struggle animals face in society today, drawing parallels between the historical, cultural, and political relationship of the patriarchal society toward women, and society’s similar relationships toward animals; especially in regards to how both are marketed as meat. In essence, both relationships can be defined as self-serving affairs operating between desire and denial. Our love affair with meat is consummated by meat eating.

One aspect addressed in recent studio work involves the dichotomy of perception versus reality, juxtaposing the two to provoke thought in the audience. My studio piece, “Peep Show,” is conceptual in nature. I chose to focus on the chicken; we kill more chickens for our table than any other warm-blooded animals. All animals for human consumption are reduced to mere body parts, and sometimes marketed with sexual innuendoes referring to women’s body parts. Frank Perdue asks of his chicken consumers, "Are you a breast man or a leg man?"

Today we are confused and distracted by the media, science and each other. Therefore, we continue to disconnect, separate and commodify our own instincts from their natural roots – the soul and the heart. It is no wonder that we are so fearful to reconnect to the spiritual. We are a culture whose members have become confused even about their bodies; the body’s power, its capability for pleasure and therefore, its sacredness. We continue to vilify and market women, hunt, mutilate and eat animals, and neglect Nature.

As an animal rights activist, who chooses to produce animal rights art, I am interested in producing art which forces my audience to question certain long-standing beliefs they may have held about animals, and doing so without resorting to sentimentality, excessive gore, or didacticism.

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