Rose DeSiano brings photography and sculpture together, examining cultural symbolism, the collective consciousness, and the long, tangled history of the photograph and the monument as both a truth-teller and myth-maker.
Engaged in a public art sculpture practice, DeSiano’s artwork has been commissioned by multiple cities, her photo-sculptures have been installed in New York, San Diego, and Cleveland, among others and has been the recipient of multiple international awards such as; the Uniqlo Parks Grant and FLOW.17 Public Art Award.
Her gallery artwork has been exhibited in solo shows across the United States; along with several group museum exhibitions; Bronx Art Museum, Allentown Museum of Art, Heritage Museum of Málaga, along with international art fairs; Photoville, FOTOFOCUS, Orange Changsha Photo, China. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including; LenScratch, Hyperallergic, Vogue Magazine, The New Photo Review, UK’s Aesthetica.
When not in the ‘staged trenches', or 'erecting monuments’ DeSiano writes and presents on a variety of photographic topics: dealing with image manipulation, the collective consciousness, and landscape theory. She has published and presented essays on “The Cultural Perceptions of Landscape in Photography” and “Digital Constructs and the Photograph as Cultural Space” and most-recently “Seeing Truth and Purity Again: through digital manipulation in documentary photography.”
DeSiano received her M.F.A from the Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, and her B.F.A from NYU-Tisch School of the Arts. Professor of Photography at Kutztown University, she lives and works in her hometown Brooklyn, New York.
Brooklyn, New York
My public art practice is three-pronged: photography, alternative photographic processes, and sculpture. I scour locations, photographing moments where archetypes and historical references appear in everyday life - currently this manifests as monuments, war re-enactments, and historic landscapes. Additionally, I collect photos from historical photographic archives; I then digitally splice them into elaborate tableaus which possess distorted depth, scale, and perspective in a nod to historical painting. Once integrated into sculpture or alternative substrates, they transform the photographic imagery's meaning.
Working sculpturally allows photography, often relegated to dusty books and smartphones, to have a bodily relationship with the viewer. In “Island of Empirical Data and Other Fabrications” I have reintegrated vintage photographs of Randall’s Island back into the island's landscape, resurrecting its histories for the contemporary community. These public photo-sculptures address the responsibility of a community/culture to create an informed dialogue with its markers and commemorative practices; one that takes stock in who it is serving and what message we are conveying to the members of our own and other communities.
By installing the works in public spaces and galleries, I am interested in bringing to the surface lost or undiscussed topics of history, cultural assumptions, and our often inaccurate collective understanding of our own history. When creating public art, one has to think carefully about its placement within community and how this work converses with other public works and architecture. The work must be in dialogue, approachable, comprehensible and, above all, service its visitors both aesthetically and intellectually.
For many, the form and scale of a public monument commands authority more than the knowledge of the honoree or event, as seen in the obelisks of “Absent Monuments," which make allusions to fallen empires and underrepresented African culture. My materials also evoke meaning - mirrors superimpose the viewer into the monuments, implicating them into the complex history of our culturalscapes. Looking at how we respond to forms and photo-history, my artworks are concerned with the collective consciousness, the sociological ramifications of photo-manipulation, and the tangled histories of both photograph and monument as truth and myth-maker.