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Denise Giardullo



To be posted...



by Emily King


A Lifetime of Exploration


Over a career spanning decades, Denise Giardullo easily fills every room in her home with her original pieces of art. Contemporary quilts hang from the walls, figurative sculptures peer at visitors from their stands and assemblages adorn the walls of her home. Her artwork, especially her quilts, sets Denise apart from other contemporary artists. Her quilts are far from traditional. The vibrant colors and embellishments bring each scene to life. It may seem overwhelming at first, but given the chance to admire her work, one yields an understanding of Denise’s passion for art. Her commitment to exploration in the abstract world has remained a constant force in her life since her years as an Art Education major at SUNY New Paltz. Denise’s work will be shown as part of the “Golden Age of New Paltz” show this April at the Wired Gallery in High Falls, New York.

How did your love for art begin?

I began with a focus on painting at New Paltz, which kind of drifted away since I didn’t have any space to do oil paintings where I was living. I keep thinking Oh I’d like to do it (oil painting) again, but between the quilting and occasional doll and then I have collage and assemblage. I wonder when I am going to do all this.


Has your work ever been put on pause?

Well during the 1990s, I was splitting my time between raising my son, Ben, and teaching. Recently, in the past few years, I started showing again. Before that, I was sick. I had cancer.


How did your artwork evolve during your battle with cancer?

I had to work in bits and starts, due to exhaustion. I became more protective of my work, making it regardless of monetary gain or exposure. Having been sick with cancer has given me appreciation and a lot of gratitude for every day. Being creative is a bonus.


After my illness, I made two small quilts and challenged myself to use different colorways. These quilts were in an exhibit at the Brush Gallery in Massachusetts, called “Encounters with Cancer.”


How do you find your inspiration?

I don't know. Ideas come to me, it’s my whole life. Sometimes it's the fabric, sometimes it's the color. It's like a disease, I cannot stop. I read an article in the New York Times years ago how artists really don't get bored because there is always something to make.


Is your work ever influenced by social or political issues?

My assemblages tend to be a little more political. One, called “My Three Sons,” was created against the Iraq War. The Iraq War was difficult enough to comprehend when Saddam began his aggression. But it was horrible when the weapons of mass destruction theory was advanced by President Bush. Then we went off to fight a war, when in reality it was only about our access to oil. 


Can you explain the significance of “My Three Sons”?

The piece contains three young babies and a patriotic mother waving a flag. It can be interpreted in various ways. The three babies represent three young men. One grew up to be a farmer, a businessman and a soldier. Next to the mother is a broken, porcelain head, signifying to me that her son gave his life up for his country for no good reason. The pretense of the war was a sham. All the dice around the piece signify the randomness of what can happen.


What are you working on now?

I’m working on a number of projects. One in particular is for the Wiltwyck Quilters’ Guild. The theme for the quilt show challenge will be "Celebrating 50 Years of Woodstock.” I was actually at Woodstock.


Wait, what?

I was on an airplane a while back and in the airline magazine I saw myself in a picture of the festival. I worked at Woodstock for the utility department.


What was that like?

It was such an experience. More than the music, it was just being with all these people. I remember driving into the festival and saying to myself, “Look at all these people.” I had my Volkswagen at the festival and it had a platform in the back, so at night I slept in the car and I parked behind the stage. It was pretty wild, it was great.


What feelings do you hope to evoke from visitors to your exhibit in April?

I hope that they enjoy it, and they see how much I love doing what I do. I can’t help making things. It keeps me going and keeps me grounded. I’m always looking. I’m the kind of person who walks on the street and if I see something, I might pick it up.

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