The Nature and Politics of Denise Beaudet’s Paintings and Practice

September 26th, 2011  |  by Published in featured, featured artists, Uncategorized

“all of my experiences, loves, nightmares, quandaries and questions are the exquisite fuel of my work.”

– denise beaudet

Denise Beaudet is an unassuming artist who creates intricate collage-like paintings that invite you into a deeply personal and political world embedded in nature.  Denise has been living and making art in Western Massachusetts for over twenty years. She began studying printmaking at Greenfield Community Collage and later at Hartford Art School.  Now, she is a painter who draws on everything in her life and the world around her to make art.   Her art practice includes daily hikes in the woods and mountains in the Connecticut River Valley, where she gleans objects found in nature, which quickly make their way into her work in her Cottage Street studio in Easthampton.  Increasingly pre-occupied with struggles for social justice, Denise has been experimenting with how to express the  connection between these struggles and our human connection (and disconnection) to the natural world in her work. “I am using connections to nature and creatures as a support to lift those involved in the struggles for social justice, as bugs, bats, vines, eggs, seeds, fish, owls and bones mix and intertwine in my work. They loop into lungs and out of mouths; they tie everything together; the workers, the ants, the activists, the despots, the tree roots. This is reality, tied together.”  She is currently working full-time on Roots To Resistance, an art and activism project in which she is painting large scale portraits of twelve women activists who are doing “groundbreaking, risking and extremely important work” around the world. The portraits are accompanied by a Postering and Postcard Campaign that seeks to amplify the work of these activists and the issues they are fighting for and against.  To find out more about Roots To Resistance and how you can get involved visit

1) What are you trying to communicate or explore in your work? 

What I am trying to explore and communicate in my work? So many things at one time!  I use the work as a way to navigate and express my feelings, thoughts and adventures on any given day. As a sort of visual diary and sometimes as a one woman therapy session layered with explorations of past, present and future.  Paired with the personal content of the work, are the things going on in the world around me:  People, Politics, Social Justice, Death, Mortality, Afterdeath and always Creatures, Nature and the Natural World. I spend a good part of every day out in the woods recharging, facing fears, thinking and exploring, and everything I see and imagine out there is brought back to my Art. As an artist I think I am always longing to create a new way to say things that artists have been saying from the beginning, a brand new image that has impact and immediacy. It still fascinates me that I can think of an idea-anything- and make it come alive with paint and paper. Wow!

2) Where were you when you created (made) one of your favorite works? 

Many of my favorite pieces were created in my old home in a tiny basement apartment at the base of Mt. Tom in Holyoke. It is a very special place and the 7 years I lived there were magical for my Art.

3) How do you see your art in relation to cultivating community, and how does community effect the work you make? 

This is actually a new concept for me. A few years ago the amazing muralist Mike Alewitz came to an open studio of mine and in a long conversion he said something to the effect of “ Well you can stay in here and do therapy forever I guess but…..  It started a chain reaction of thoughts that would transform what was at that time my current idea about sharing my art: I would hoard it to myself in my home and studio and occasionally show and sell it in galleries. Honestly I hadn’t really thought about involving the community in any real way because I thought of my art as something to be protected at all costs. Since that time my ideas about my work and community have become so much more intertwined and I have severed most all of my connections to showing in the world of galleries. My current project Roots To Resistance-the Portraits of 12 Women Activists  is profoundly dependent on a relationship between myself, my Art  and my own community as well as communities around the world.

4) What is your spirit animal? 

As for spirit animal well I think talking about that stuff sort of diminishes it but I will share my spirit fruit which is most definitely the Avocado.


5) What spaces in Northampton and around are you most curious to see inside of, or to (make) work in? 

I am very curious to go inside of the abandoned factories in Easthampton near Ferry Street and I would love to have a rogue show inside of an abandoned not legal space!

6) What are some strategies you use to sustain your art (creative) practice (while living in Northampton)? 

Well, I live very very simply, lets put it that way. I have also learned how to ask for help. Not, “hey can I have 100 bucks” help but, “hey can you help me think of ways to sustain this work” help. Asking for help has been huge.

7) What 5 items do you always carry with you? 

5 things  I always carry-depends on the season, I suppose. There are the boring ones cell phone, cash card, license,  but then there are more exciting ones sometimes: Mini magnifying glass, trash that I have picked up in the woods, mini day of the dead sketch book and my revolution fist with flames hat and, if I am really lucky, a Kombucha.



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