Artist Feature: Dany Green
We are excited to start our Earth Day artist features with D.C. based artist Dany Green. Dany is a self-taught mosaic artist whose unique approach pushes the boundaries of traditional mosaics. She spoke with us to give more insight into her sustainable creative practices, her artistic influences, and the importance of displaying art in communities.
What started your journey in Mosaic artwork?
I am from the Philadelphia area, and I went to Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden, which is a courtyard and a building completely covered in mirror, tile, glass, and different found objects. He actually has different murals throughout the city.
I saw that in High School and wanted to make art like that and thought it would be really cool. I had a capstone project and I actually decided to make a mosaic for that, and put it up in the building to bring a piece of Philly’s history into my High School. My first mosaic was large, it was 4ft by 2ft. I used broken bottles, mirror I found, and tile. I talked to a lot of hardware store professionals and art teachers to get advice, and I googled, so I’m mainly self-taught.
When I started my instagram, that’s really when I started connecting with other mosaic artists, and that really helped grow my practice, because they gave me advice and tips.
And when you started, around what year was this?
This was 2012, it has been about 10 years of trial and error.
Can you tell us about some of the themes your artwork explores, and what things inspire those concepts?
One of the pivot points in my art practice was when I decided to make bigger work. I bought a piece of plywood, I was trying to decide what to do with it, and I felt the wood was really beautiful, like its wood grain patterns that show the passage of time and growth. I decided to trace the wood grain patterns with mirror. That piece was a breakthrough for me. That started the process of being inspired by the materials themselves and really trying to convey the beauty of what I’m working with. I take inspiration from literal material, I collect things, people give me things, and I also try to capture things like space and time.
What other materials do you use?
I use broken bottles, teacups, ceramics, and more. People like to give me things. I used to find a lot just out and about in DC, but I have not found as many things since the pandemic. Also, I use stained glass, and that’s nicer for a wider range of colors.
Who or what are your biggest artistic influences, and why? (Can be from any artistic field)
My favorite artist is Jack Whitten, I’m absolutely obsessed with his work. He makes what he calls “paintings”, but later in life, they really were pieces of acrylic paint or different things he’d find and cut into different shapes and squares, and make mosaics out of them. He’d also use different materials that you could find. You could call his work an assemblage, and it’s cool how he would cut everything up and place them. You could tell that he was connected to spirit and a spiritual person through his work. I try to capture that in my own work.
I also really like Nick Cave’s works, he makes the sound suits, and they’re so awesome. To hear him talking about how he wears the suit and dances in it, and washing the suit is a creative practice in itself. I think I really like the way they both use non-traditional materials.
“Art that was public and murals that I saw growing up is what got me started…I did not go to museums a lot, so seeing those murals was my art education.”Dany Green
How do you incorporate and practice sustainability in creating your art?
I feel like the main thing I try to use are things I am able to collect, and I am more than open to people giving me things. I find it cool when people break things, and instead of throwing them away, they will ask me. I try to be careful because I cannot take everything, but it’s a really cool way to reuse and repurpose those things, and give them a different life. I also try to use things I find. I’m always looking and observing my surroundings. I want to get back into that more now that things are open.
Can you describe the significance of displaying art in your community?
For me I think it is a desire for it to come full circle. Art that was public and murals that I saw growing up is what got me started, and got me thinking about non-traditional materials. I did not go to museums a lot, so seeing those murals was my art education. I like the idea of being that person for someone else.
Putting out work publicly is important, but also getting people’s reactions are a part of my practice too. I like making art for myself, and I like when people get to experience a sense of awe. That is my goal.
What advice would you give to young aspiring artists?
My advice for people who want to get serious into this work is to not get hung up on doing everything perfectly. Focus on creating. One of the coolest things about art are the restraints artists have to work under. Using what we have and making use of what’s available. In the past, I have gotten hung up on not having an art degree or proper training, and realizing that every artist is creating their own path and creating their own technique and process, is an important thing to remind yourself. Someone once told me “We’re all making it up” and that gave me permission to create and make it up as I like.
To learn more about Dany Green, please visit her website, and give her a follow on Instagram. She is currently open for commissions, and has artwork showing at the Strathmore from March 19th – April 30th.