Dawn Howkinson Siebel
oil painting and assemblage
My new oil paintings focus on endangered species, placing individual animals in deep shadow. My goal is to present their being-ness. The shadow holds the animal; together they are the yin and yang that form the whole, with no clear edge between them. Shadow swallows form and makes place ambiguous. To my surprise, painting black has also led me into new explorations of color. There is more complexity in the darkness than is revealed in reproduction, both in color and texture. Although I am a representational painter, I am not a photo-realist. I am more interested in fur-ness than fur. My aim to capture the gestalt rather than the literal.
I am also a found object sculptor. For decades I've been collecting odd and curious things that catch my eye on the chance they might one day find their way into my sculpture. Many have, and many still will. I addition to often humorous figurative assemblages, I have also recently finished turning a ten-volume set of 1937 encyclopedias into ten sculptures.
Dawn Howkinson Siebel was born during a snowstorm in Lake County, Indiana, in 1950. Her first career in the theatre relocated her to New York City and gave her a Broadway credit, but lost appeal as a long-term profession. She became a dyer, working in batik to create a line of t-shirts she sold through craft fairs and retail stores up and down the East Coast. Dawn has a t-shirt in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution from this period. After three years Dawn retired the t-shirts and began hand-coloring silk with dye processes she devised herself, eventually selling her collection of one-of-a-kind kimonos to Bergdorf Goodman. She also mounted four solo shows of batik and collaged paintings in New York City between 1975 and 1980. In 1985, Dawn embarked on an 18-month trip around the world with a set of watercolors packed into her luggage. This led to a decade of watercolor painting with a day job in publishing and thoughts of illustrating children’s books. In 1994, she abandoned New York for Boulder, Colorado, and finally found the gumption to devote herself fully to fine art, switching to oil paint as her medium of choice in 1998. Since 2009 Dawn has focused almost exclusively on one large project: “Better Angels: The Firefighters of 9/11,” individual oil portraits of all 343 firefighters who died on 9/11, an exhibit that is currently touring the U.S. (see betterangels911.com). In October 2011, she relocated to Massachusett's Pioneer Valley and with a full studio again in Eastworks, looks forward to creating new work. Dawn is self-taught and always learning.
In November, 2014, I will have a solo exhibit of my Animalia paintings at UMASS Amherst. You can join my mailing list through my website dawnsiebel.com to receive news about this and other exhibits of my work.
It was a multi-year art project that brought me back East from Colorado in 2010. I painted all 343 firefighters who died at the WTC in 2001 and in partnership with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, "Better Angels: The Firefighters of 9/11" had an 11-city national tour in 2011 and 2012. The paintings can be viewed at www.betterangels911.com.