“Working in clay is my way of making beauty out of the joys and sorrows of my life. I’m driven to capture the expression of relaxation or tension found in the human body and combine it with the shapes of plant life. “
Denise S. Tennen has maintained a sculpture studio in Minneapolis since 1988. She works primarily in clay, but at times also sculpts with wood, concrete, sand, rocks, snow, fabric and wire. She creates individual sculptures, public art and community-participation installations. She received her Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and practiced as a licensed architect through 1988. Her background in architecture influences her public artwork and has subtle effects on her sculpture work as well. Tennen’s influences include Victor Horta, architect; Henri Matisse; her teachers Lucia Tallarico and Toby Buonagurio; as well as the human body and rock formations. She has been profoundly affected by the experience of raising a family, and views that as some of the most important work she has ever done.
“Working in clay is my way of making beauty out of the joys and sorrows of my life. I’m driven to capture the expression of relaxation or tension found in the human body and combine it with the shapes of plant life. The works in this Attitude Series are inclined to take a pose or posture: sometimes strutting, sometimes at the edge of imbalance. They may each be a version of me, negotiating my world. In the end, though, the curve rules all and clay loves to take a curve like nothing else.“
Tennen’s art has been shown most recently at Jean Stephens Gallery, St. Louis Park, MN (2018); Hallberg Center for the Arts, Wyoming, MN (2018); The Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI (2016); and Landmark Center, St. Paul, MN (2015). Recent solo public art/installation commissions include Shir Tikvah Congregation, Minneapolis (2018); and Wildwood Elementary School, Mahtomedi, MN (2013). Recent community collaborations include Weaving Community with Hamline Midway project partners, St. Paul (2018); Column Project, Agamim Charter School, Hopkins, MN (2016); and Life’s a Parade at Red20 Building with ESNS students, Minneapolis (2014).