There is a lushness to it all. The River Arts studio, an old denim factory—its hardwood floors worn smooth and uneven. The windows and high ceilings, also old and imperfect, allow for a flood of natural light. As you enter, you find her—back left, among works completed and works in progress. Music plays; song selection an art unto itself. Influenced by years of movement instruction and performance, her approach to the canvas has a dance-like quality. She creates compositions that are not simply guided by sound, but are actually infused with rhythm and the pigment of each note.
Aligned are a series of brushes, fresh after a night of turpentine bathing. Her pallet, fearless and confident, displays an innate sense of color, value and composition. There is a brief meditation, hands on the canvas, and then the artist steps out of her own way—creating the opportunity for work that is not only stunning, but also direct and honest.
Deanna Chilian was born in New Jersey, eventually migrating West for many years, then settling in the mountains of southern Appalachia. Although her path has led her through the practice of law and a career teaching pilates and Gyrotonic®, her passion for painting has remained steady and evolving. Deanna draws inspiration from early O’Keeffe, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Richard Diebenkorn, and Matisse. She loves the work of Brian Rutenberg and Wolf Kahn. Her art education has been through mentorship. She studies and workshops with Catherine Chang-Liu, Gwen Fox, and Skip Lawrence.
Deanna is not here to play it safe. In response to these dynamic times in which we are living, Deanna’s abstract expressions provide a vocabulary large enough for what we are feeling collectively. Her work digs towards the essence, the point, the underbelly of our world. It is seductive and abrupt. It is daring and innocent. It is an invitation—to stand before it, and be with it. Ultimately, to be moved.