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"Really drawn to the heat": An interview with Danni Bellando

While the regular calendar is already saying March, we haven't yet flipped over, and we're still reveling in "Corner," our February issue artwork from Danni Bellando. We love how alive her work feels and the way she constructs space. Danni recently spoke to us about her art and her process:

1. In your artist statement, you talk about creating 'a "limbo" space that rests at the intersection of human thoughts and experiences.' Can you talk about how "Corner" fits into that idea?

“Corner” is a piece that I made when I first moved into my Brooklyn apartment that I’ve now been living in for a little over a year. I remember getting everything settled into my room, laying materials in front of me, and really making for the first time in a few months. This piece is a simple moment -- reflective of fleshing out ideas. I like building spaces and imagining they’re spaces inside ourselves and our minds, where thoughts can rest and pass through. In this space it’s quiet, paused. Perhaps reflective of my own life experiences in that moment.

Window Portal, Site-specific installation, 2018

2. Your palette seems to include a lot of reds and pinks. What draws you to these colors?

I’m really drawn to the heat. My favorite color to make with is definitely vermilion; it feels like it’s radiating, soaking into all of the colors and things surrounding it. I like how it’s such an intense color but can be toned down or made more intense- but still retain that glowing, light-giving quality.

Window Portal, Detail

3. Can you talk about your process and the materials you use? How do you decide what is right for each piece?

3. My process is a lot about creating individual pieces and finding ways they can function together. I’ve been growing a lot in my practice, turning ideas expressed as 2-D spaces into 3-D spaces to be immersed in. Partially functioning as paintings coming together to build a space, and growing sculpturally by utilizing found, man-made materials like cardboard, or air-conditioning vents. “Corner” feels like a jumping off point for how I’ve been thinking about work more recently -- a smaller, isolated moment. I need to be making a lot at a time to know what’s right. When I work on multiple pieces simultaneously they begin to have a conversation and develop a language. I know when something is done or what it needs in the context of the others and how they function together.

Enter [here], Site-specific installation, 2018

4. Your bio mentions that you studied painting, visual arts education, and psychology, and that you seek to balance these in your work. Can you tell us about how you do that? How do these different fields intersect for you?

My work and my practice revolves around human experiences, and how I feel myself and my life overlapping with other peoples. Teaching (art) is one of my favorite ways to connect with others, especially when the making is being done so honestly and fearlessly. Kids are the best for that reason, because that honesty and fearless nature just comes naturally to them. I love when I get to talk about big, all-encompassing ideas that everyone experiences (like identity, or community), and see how, say, a 6 year old’s interpretation or experience comes through. They’re just beautiful little weirdos (all kids, really) and working with them helps that part of me stay intact. It gives me inspiration to be that way within my own art practice. And psychology I think just falls hand-in-hand with teaching, especially teaching art. It’s kind of like the next step of trying to decode why someone made something or what inner influence impacted their work. Why and how are we the way we are, thinking the way we do? Sometimes the objective is clear -- and other times the making is what helps us gain the clarity. I like floating in between those two things -- always learning and growing from the work that flows out of me and others.

Enter [here], Detail

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All art appears courtesy of Danni Bellando. For more, visit dannibellando.format.com.


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