Some people may describe Denise Greenwood Loveless' sculptures as weird or even deformed - and she would be the first to agree.
"Not everybody gets my art. There's an out-of-the-norm feel to it. Sometimes I create figures with missing limbs or holes in the heart or belly. To me, these 'deformities' speak more to the emotional than to the physical," said Greenwood Loveless. "I want people to see something of themselves in the figurative work, to see beyond the physical."
Greenwood Loveless' art explores the frailty and imperfection of the human condition -- the lines where light and dark converge. Her work will be on display locally October 6-7, 2012, at the Cottonwood Art Festival. She is one of 240 artists selected from more than 1,000 submissions to participate in the prestigious show. In addition, she is one of the festival's 16 featured artists. She'll be representing the sculpture medium.
"Denise Greenwood Loveless is an amazing artist. There's a whimsy to her work, but it also has a profound depth. It's edgy and unique, and we are excited to have her with us as a featured artist," said Serri Ayers, director of the Cottonwood Art Festival.
In addition to sculpting clay, Greenwood Loveless is a metal smith and also creates multi-media sculptures.
"I've been an artist all my life. I think I was about three when I realized crayons aren't for eating, they're for writing on the wall as well," laughed Greenwood Loveless. "I believe all people are artists when they're young. Some have it nurtured or nurture it themselves, and some don't. Ask a group of first graders 'how many of you are artists?' and most likely they'll all raise their hands. Ask that same group as eighth graders and only a handful will."
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised near Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, Greenwood Loveless says her surroundings are part of her inspiration. She fondly recalls Kansas City as "a visually stunning city that infused in her a love of art," and describes the woods and rivers near Lake Pontchartrain as "a magical place" that helped her develop an artistic soul. But it is her family that has inspired her most of all, nurturing her and shaping her into the artist she is today.
As a little girl, her mother taught her and her sisters the art of making paper dolls and dresses. With paper, scissors and crayons, Greenwood Loveless learned that she could express herself through art, a valuable lesson for the tenth-born in a family of 12.
"It's so important to self-express. There were 14 of us -- counting our parents -- living under one roof, so it was difficult for any one of us to have a one-on-one relationship with our parents. Everybody was spread so thin. The older kids would help the younger kids, and we were all close," she explained. "I think it made it even more important for us to find ways to self-express. My mother always used to say that I 'could entertain myself in a crowd,' and that was true. It was usually with a pad of paper and a pen."
But it was her brother, Ken, who taught her the most. The sixth-born in the family, Ken's siblings lovingly call him "The Hub in the Wheel" because he's always kept everyone together.
"Our family is really close, and I think if we didn't have Ken, that we wouldn't be. He keeps us constantly coming together. He has absolutely shaped who I am -- as a person and an artist. He's been the biggest blessing in my life," noted Greenwood Loveless.
Ken has cerebral palsy, a learning disability and is deaf, but he has taught his siblings many important lessons about life.
"Growing up with a handicapped sibling is hard. Where ever we go, some people stare and even say rude things, and that's painful. Because of Ken, I've seen pain and meanness, but I've also seen the best of life. Ken taught me to see beauty and wonder -- to never take for granted that I have two legs that take me from point A to point B. I sign all of my work with the universal symbol for gratitude -- a g with a swirl -- and that's because of Ken too. I'm just so grateful for everything," said Greenwood Loveless.
Ken also influenced the overall look of her work, though Greenwood Loveless says it was mostly on a subconscious level. Her sculptures often emphasize human faces and figures that appear distorted. They are meant to be both misshapen and beautiful -- a perfect balance.
"I resent the idea that Hollywood tries to sell us, that 'normal' equates to beautiful, to 'perfect'. Who's to say what's normal or even beautiful?" she said. "What was normal for us doesn't fit that mold, and I couldn't imagine growing up any other way."
A self-taught artist, Greenwood Loveless studied design at Louisiana State University, but never took a clay or metals class. Her work centers on the unconscious -- the middle place where dark and light meet. She says she doesn't create in order to make sense out of life or argue for any particular point of view, but to probe the unconscious -- the act of seeing and of being.
Greenwood Loveless lives in Irving, Texas, with her husband Jimmy. She creates art in her studio and is a freelance art director in the film and video industry. As an art director, she is responsible for all of the inanimate objects on the set, including set decoration and design. She has more than 20 years in the film industry and says she looks forward to continuing her work in film and in her studio, where she can bring her passion to life.
"Working on clay, that's my love, my passion, and I'm so excited to be representing it at the Cottonwood Art Festival. When Serri called to tell me I was a featured artist, my heart skipped a beat. I feel so honored to be a part of it," said Greenwood Loveless.
People can view her art in booth 251 at the Cottonwood Art Festival between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 6, and between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 7. The festival will be held at Cottonwood Park, off of Beltline Road and Coit Road, in Richardson.
About Cottonwood Arts Festival
The Cottonwood Art Festival is a juried show featuring some of the finest arts and crafts in the nation. Now in its 43rd year, the biannual event is rated as one of the top art festivals in the U.S. and generates more than $2 million in art sales each year. Exhibits will include museum-quality work in 16 categories: 2-D Mixed Media, 3-D Mixed Media, Clay, Decorative Fiber, Glass, Jewelry, Metal, Oil, Watercolor, Drawing/Pastel, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Wearable Fiber, Wood and Leather. Cottonwood Art Festival also has a children's area called ArtStop, which offers arts, crafts and activities for children of all ages.
In addition, Cottonwood Art Festival features fine food and drinks that are available for purchase, as well as free, live music by local, top performers. Parking and admission is free of charge. However, some children's events require a fee, and artists' works are available for purchase.
For more information on the festival, visit www.cottonwoodartfestival.com, or Facebook -- www.facebook.com/CottonwoodArtFestival.