Denise Eno Ernest’s exhibition, In the Between, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from November 5 through November 24, 2021. A free opening reception will be held on Friday, November 5, 2021, from 5-7 p.m. Ernest is the recipient of a 2021 Artist Fellowship in Painting from the Delaware Division of the Arts.
Ernest has been an artist her entire life. She attended Cornell University, earning a BFA in Painting in 1985. She then moved to North Carolina, where she was active in the Winston-Salem arts community, participating in a one-woman exhibition and numerous juried shows. Later while living in New Jersey, Ernest briefly shifted to photography as her medium, but returned to painting in 2009.
Now residing in Newark, Delaware, Ernest has diligently developed a new body of work over the past eight years. As an older artist, Ernest offers, “I bring experience, creativity, and wisdom to my work.”
Ernest’s work employs either three-dimensional forms attached to her paintings or mixed media to create a three-dimensional landscape. She integrates silk scarves, textiles, and found objects with acrylic and metallic paint to build each piece.
The juxtaposition of these materials, Ernest says, creates both a tension and vulnerability in her art. “The results are visual and tactile works in a language all my own.”
This exhibition encompasses a variety of subjects, and most pieces were generated as a result of her DDOA Fellowship. She also boldly reflects her life experiences in these abstract works.
Ernest notes, “In my ‘Women Series’ paintings, I’ve used my own experience as a survivor of abuse to delve into the psychology and hopelessness of women caught in circumstances in which they have no say, no power. These represent impossible situations that women can find themselves in just to survive.”
One of the signature pieces in this exhibit — Prayer Tree In The Bleak Mid-Winter 2021 — incorporates actual tree branches to represent trees in an abstract landscape.
“I asked over 28 families across the country to write anything meaningful to them on fabric ribbons I provided,” Ernest says of the piece. “They sent back drawings, poems, prayers, Bible verses, famous quotes, and personal messages, which I attached to the tree branches.”
She describes that many cultures use prayer trees to send spiritual messages out into the world. “This is my interpretation of a prayer tree,” she says.
Ernest and her husband John enjoy life with two beautiful daughters and their husbands, and three grandchildren. She continues her pursuit of photography and enjoys reading and writing poetry when she has time.
Images: Tears on My Grandmother’s Braids (detail), 2019, mixed media, 24″ x 24″ and Prayer Tree In The Bleak Mid-Winter 2021 (detail), 2021, mixed media, 48″ x 60″