Interview With Artist Dana Harel

Harel’s ongoing drawing series explores the mystery of the human psyche and the drama of physical and emotional struggle. She is a storyteller exposing different kinds of truth, exploring all the forces that make us complex humans. Focusing on the nonverbal, unprocessed, wild and instinctive elements.

What inspires you?
I recently came back from a summer road trip to the Canadian Rockies. Landscapes would have to a big influence on my state of mind. Personal memories, dance, music, Tom Waits is one. I first heard him on the radio when I was a teenager and his distinctive voice just grabbed me, and I was hooked ever since. I actually think that some of the male figures in my recent work seem like the characters Waits writes about. I also love looking at drawings by sculptors like Baskin, Bernini, Giacometti, and Rodin. Their drawings reveal to me their intuitive understanding of a powerful line. Also the fashion designers Rodarte. They are so wild and creative, yet at the same time they seem such down-to-earth women. I can go on and on; children books, Maurice Sendak the American Writer/illustrator, he tells children the truth about life, even if it’s harsh and scary.

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How do you know when a work is finished?
Usually I don’t know, that’s part of the process. Most of the time I am not sure, and then I have to take a break from it, and move to another drawing, not looking at it for a while. When I revisit it again, I always know! Usually it’s requires very little additions, but they always feel as critical additions. That’s the reason I work on multiple drawings at a time, so I can stay productive and keep creating.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
When it comes to tools and materials, it’s very basic in my studio; variety of pencils and papers. My sketch book is the one thing I can’t live without. It’s like a crack into my head, it’s my anchor.

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How did you start making art and why do you make art?
Actually, I am not a trained artist. My background is in Architecture. I loved architecture school and the education, but working full time after college was just a job. I wasn’t passionate about it, and so I gradually started making art on the side and exhibiting in local group shows. Motherhood was the catalyst that helped me to take a break from architecture and reinvent myself as an artist. It allowed me to evolve slowly over time. Now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

For me, art is not just about the final product. It’s about the process. I like it when a work of art reveals itself in stages, when you have to spend some time with it. I love the idea of mystery, and that there are elements in the process that nobody would ever know about.

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Drawing gives me the freedom to express and reflect on things that I care about in a very intimate way.

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