Cracking open a pomegranate (“seeds of blood in cups of azure,” as Andre Gide describes them) is like lifting the lid off a treasure chest. Within the rind, a glistening memento mori is our prize, an edible symbol of blood, birth, and death.
“Pomegranates […] have old-world stories to tell,” says Dana Squires, who harvested grapefruit, oranges, and lemons on her grandparents’ Californian ranch as a young girl. “There, picking fruit, along with collecting duck eggs, was a daily part of life,” she continues, describing pears as “beautifully voluminous” and quinces as their “funky” cousins. Later adventures as a Peace Corps volunteer brought Dana in contact with mango, soursop, yam, and a seemingly infinite variety of bananas. “Fruit represents my life, my history, and the culture of those I have known,” she says.
Now based in Olympia, WA, Dana incorporates these deeply personal sensorial experiences into her still life paintings. While her work centers on the “sensual shape of a fig” or the “arch of a madrona branch,” Dana carefully maps the negative space between apple and plum, plate and pear—viewers are forced to consider one fruit in relation to another. “With emphasis on shape, my work is abstract in many ways,” she says, explaining that her attraction to pattern, decoration, and fruit is born from “the creative [lives] of women across cultures.” Immortalizing everyday, domestic objects, Dana turns lemons, pears, and peonies into iconic totems that live secret lives of their own.
Deceptively simple in appearance, works like “Pears in a Bowl” and “20 Oranges” delicately balance space, shape, color, and linework in a deliciously playful game of design and arrangement. “I was once told that my artwork is about simple but complicated things,” says Dana, who illuminates small, overlooked moments with luscious shapes, a juicy palette, and deliberate draftsmanship.
“Fruit represents my life, my history, and the culture of those I have known.” — Dana Squires
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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