Denise Smith is a printmaker and photographer working primarily with screen prints, woodblock prints, and medium format film. Born in Palo Alto to a family of nine children, she attributes her artistic style to the chaotic and creative environment of her childhood. She was exposed to a variety of creative disciplines from a young age: The world of architecture and design from her father, and the world of art and academia from their friends and neighbors in the Stanford community.
Denise studied art at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she received a BA in Fine Art with an emphasis on Printmaking and Photography.
Within her Woodblock work she is known for her distinctive incorporation of heavy wood grain as an integral component of her images, Denise’s process begins with the careful selection of wood that has unique grain characteristics that will align with the content of each piece. She utilizes both reduction and multi-block methods.
Denise’s screen prints follow a narrative structure, each series typically features non-linear motives intended to explore a socio-cultural theme; bringing light to an issue with a sense of lightheartedness as to steer clear of becoming didactic.
Using a photo emulsion process for her screen prints, she draws and develops her images digitally, by hand with a tablet and stylus. Images are then printed on transparencies, which are exposed on the screen. Denise’s prints typically consist of at least 10 to 20 color runs.
Denise was drawn to the immediacy of photography as a diversion from the methodical process of printmaking. Her photography focuses on naturalistic raw images that recontextualize the everyday through her unique examination of her subjects. She is primarily interested in portraiture and architectural images. Black and white medium format film has been her preferred platform throughout her career, although in recent years she has shifted towards digital photography.
Denise is a Teaching Assistant for the Screen Printing program at Cabrillo College. She is also the President of the Cabrillo Printmaking Club, created to promote printmaking and give students an opportunity to grow and create beyond the classroom.