Sunday, December 23, 2012

Featured Artist: Helga Dangel

Study in Smalti 
6” x 6”, 10” x 10” on birch 

For most of my early life, I lived in southern Germany in the area of the ‘Black Forest’ where tradition, culture, and the beauty of the landscape have always inspired my senses. They belong to me like salt belongs to the sea. 

The darkness of the forest and the impermeability of the clay soil there had an impact on people’s lives. People retell the legends and stories about the woods and the creatures that reside in this natural habitat. Still today, the characters of the past that mimic the unique features of the dark woods are part of festivals and cultural events. These authentic figures still invoke memories in my dreams that bring back my connection to and longing for this area. I am one of those creatures: not so predictable, yet, rooted and reflecting that typical sensibility.

My first impression, when I relocated to the Chicago area was that I seemed to be in a dispassionate environment of empty skyscrapers. I searched for a connection to this place and context for self-expression studying Art and Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The impacts of my cultural ties contend with my new reality in Chicago and gave me the idea of opening up social structures. I had to deal with myself, an unfamiliar cultural background, and with challenges of a segmented multicultural community. 

Through my involvement at the Chicago Mosaic School and Chicago Public Schools’ Program ‘After School Matters’ I have become a passionate teacher in the art of mosaic making to students of all ages. Because of my strong 2-D background I have also introduced painting and drawing to various groups. Since I am concerned about nature, I am involved in the green movement sup-porting the implementation of sustainable resources. Always respecting nature in my art practices, I am attracted to and fascinated by natural stone, its smell and color, and the story that found objects tell me. My art portrays my fascination with various media and texture such as paint, pencil, stone, found objects, and smalti, Byzantine molten glass. 

My artistic storytelling plays with the reflection and absorption of light. Light and shade create the beauty of things that matter in my life. Every mark or element matters on my canvas. Every part of my artwork reflects my logic and aesthetic. Here again I find my passion in unforeseen surprises.

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