AIE Conversation Series: Dennis Lee Mitchell

Artist Dennis Lee Mitchell sat down with Art in Embassies staff to talk about his artwork¬†and influences on his piece in the Ankara exhibition 2015.¬†Produced in conjunction with Art in Embassies’ exhibition in Ankara at the official residence of U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, John R. Bass

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0:06When I was welding clay, I would take torches and heat and weld clay together. So one day
0:15I had the torches, and there was a sheet of paper next to where I was working, and I guess
0:23things were going bad and I thought I’ll try that. And I did that and right away, it was
0:32just gorgeous.
0:34The thing about working with smoke is that nobody has an standards to use against it.
0:40If you’re making a painting, you have paint and, you know, you’ve got a long history of
0:45paint.
0:45And yet looking at smoke, people don’t necessarily first off know much about the way it should
0:52look on paper. People thing these are photographs. I think 85% of people at an opening will think
1:00they’re photographs.
1:01Tell someone that it’s smoke and you can tell see it on their face right away, you can see
1:06it.
1:07Really? Woa.
1:09and the next statement is, “I’ve never seen that before”.
1:14So, you know art is the universal language that you can make something and put it anywhere
1:20in the world and someone knows what you’re saying. And when they can begin to associate
1:28with you, then that’s two, and then when that happens, often times there’s three. And then
1:40there’s four. And it’s a small step, but that’s the way things start.
1:46And I would hope more of that can happen.