Dana Oldfather is a painter who has exhibited internationally and nationally in galleries and museums including Library Street Collective, Detroit, Zg Gallery, Chicago, Kathryn Markel Fine Art, New York, The McDonough Museum of Art in Youngstown, The Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, and The University of Southern Queensland, in Australia. She was awarded the William and Dorothy Yeck Award for Young Painters, two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, and most recently, a Satellite Fund Emergency Relief Grant from SPACES Gallery, The Warhol Foundation, and The Cleveland Foundation. Oldfather has been published in magazines and journals including Beautiful/Decay, ArtMaze Magazine, London UK, and the book The Art of Spray by Lori Zimmer of Art Nerd New York. Oldfather’s work has exhibited at art fairs in Houston, Miami, Palm Beach, and New York, including Art on Paper. Her paintings are internationally collected privately and can be found in many public and corporate collections in the US including Eaton Corporation, MGM International, Bedrock Detroit, The Cleveland Clinic, and the prestigious Progressive Art Collection. Dana Oldfather currently works and lives just outside Cleveland, Ohio with her husband Randall and young son Arlo.
I explore isolation, taboos, and domestic frustration. Traditional ideas about femininity and motherhood are questioned as women in this work bounce back and forth between getting it done and becoming undone. A woman’s work in the home and family filters grime and despair as the world pushes through her. The figures in these paintings act in their surroundings rather than ornament them, and their actions represent how it feels to be a woman. The landscapes represent freedom; like the landscape one sees driving out of town on the interstate. Through allegory, exaggerated body language, color, and light I mirror an uneasy world distorted by apprehension. These portrayals of feminine challenge give prominence and dignity to the often-invisible work that nourishes the lives of others; they implore those who do this work to ask for help when it is needed. These paintings underscore the inherent emotional conflict of parenting young children and the fragility of comfort and happiness in America today.
What does “Gaze” mean to you & how do you connect it to your work?
I am interested in the way women’s bodies often appear in paintings: either nude as sexual objects, or ornamental objects easily reducible to a bowl of fruit on a table. The images we celebrate contribute to our ideas and expectations of ourselves and each other. What does the history of female bodies in painting say to women now (or to men now for that matter)? I never connected to the women in the paintings I studied. Most of them never seemed to be doing much of anything, let alone represent an ideal I wanted to aspire to. So, I join my contemporaries in contributing to an alternative image of women in art. The figures in my work actively move through space and the scenarios I invent represent what it feels like to be a woman – with all the fear, love, apprehension, support, and effort we put forth daily.
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