Feminist painter Daena Title’s colorist, expressionist work centers on her obsession with the seductive force of modern female icons. Her work explores the on-going love/hate relationship between women, societal standards, and self-esteem as well as Title’s fascination with the line between beauty and distortion, both in formal and narrative terms.
Raised on Long Island, Daena Title received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Theatre Studies from Wellesley College, and then lived in Manhattan until 1991 where she worked as an actress and a writer. Title then returned to painting as the best avenue with which to control her artistic message, mine her ongoing fascination and obsession with the relationship between women and society, and indulge her love of color and design. Her work of modern female icons, has been shown in gallery and museum spaces since 1998, including recent group exhibitions at the Carnegie Art Museum, the Long Beach Art Museum, The Oceanside Museum, the Riverside Musem, the Torrance Art Museum and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, and the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. She has received critical praise for past solo exhibitions from the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, and Huffington Post among other publications and is proud that her work is part of the Brooklyn Museum’s On Line Feminist Art Base and the Tullman Collection in Chicago.
From ‘1975 -79 as Disco reigned, America tried to absorb what “Feminism” meant. The “Wonder Woman” TV series, starring Lynda Carter, former Miss Tennessee and then Miss World America 1972, evidently tried its best to bring us a symbol of female empowerment but as usual it was co-mingled with buxom woman as sex object.
Do you remember the 1970’s and if so what are three highlights of that time frame for you?
And how. We’d just recuperated form three major assassinations, got out of Vietnam, and with Watergate had as a nation lost all faith in our politicians—the cultural culmination for all this turbulence? Disco!
For me it was the dancing: I was in college during those disco years, ’75- ’79. “Freak Out” blared at the Frat parties. In NYC, I did the Hustle at the Copacabana, as in “music and passion are always in fashion at the —”. And my parents told stories of wild parties out on Fire Island where everyone did “The Bump”, this being that innocent time just before AIDS rampaged through that exquisite gay enclave.
Tell us about the artwork you are submitting for the exhibition.
The rise of Disco dovetailed with the popularization of Feminism. TV-land didn’t know what to do with themselves on the subject. So in the “Wonder Woman” series we had a mix of female power and female exploitation. Airing from 1975 -1979, it coincided exactly with the disco years of mid to late 70’s.
And, coincidentally, it’s titular star, Lynda Carter, was crowned Miss Tennessee and then Miss World America in 1972.
Do you listen to music while you work?
Sometimes in the early stages I need silence. After a painting’s initial structure is set, I either listen to one of the various stations I’ve created on Pandora, or a single CD that changes painting to painting and that I play obsessively again and again while working. With “Wonder Woman at the Disco”, it was the great Paolo Nutini’s “These Streets”, for no particular reason.
Have you experienced a eureka moment while working on the artwork for Freak Out?
Yes! I had so much fun doing an “assignment”. I’ve always avoided commission work, but finding a way into this show’s theme was the opposite of what I expected. Rather than constricting it was freeing, and with that came much joy.
I also worked with some new paint colors for the first time: Sennelier’s Neutral Tint and Gamblin’s Ultramarine Violet and loved them; recommend them! Especially fun with Gamblin’s Phthalo Emerald, various Naphthol Reds and Radiant Magenta.
Tell us about your current series.
Two things: Subject wise, I’m still fascinated by modern female icons. Lately I have been painting Beauty Pageant winners caught at their highest emotional moments.
But also, formally in some of my work (not the piece for this show), I’ve been attempting what I call Emotional or Temporal Cubism. Cubism, we know, shows an object from all sides at once. I am trying to do the same for an emotional event. I want to find a way to mirror the act of how we both process and remember moments of high emotion. We register parts but not all of what happens and I’ve been attempting a kind of Compositional Collage that can express that visually.
FREAK OUT!! CHICAGO is a group exhibition showcasing works of art expressing the boldness, liberation, individuality, coming of age and decadence of the Disco era. The works will include visual arts in various mediums and styles including poetry, video, sculpture, performance and we are leaving the floor open for impromptus. The exhibition will be held at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, April 15th, 2016.
Micahel Van Zeyl
Erica Elan Ciganek
Steven Da Luz
Patrick Earl Hammie
Mary Jones Easley
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