Deborah Brown

BOE 2008 Viognier


‘Wire’, © 2009. Oil on Canvas. 40” x 60”


I am interested in the visible world and how we view it through the lens of our culture. My subjects have included urban and pastoral landscapes, birds, flowers, undersea environments, and dogs that I have cared for as a volunteer in a shelter. I have painted ambiguous encounters between animals and humans that result from the collision of the natural world with our technological conquest.

My most recent work depicts the post-apocalyptic beauty of Bushwick, Brooklyn, where I have a studio and where I am involved as an artist and as a community activist. Parts of Bushwick resemble a lunar landscape of industrial rubble and urban decay. Abandoned houses stand alone in fields of debris; macabre elements such as clumps of shoes dangle from wires above the street; and morning glories intertwine with barbed wire on the perimeter of junk yards.

This odd landscape possesses a simultaneous allure and menace that I take as the starting point for my paintings. Based on what I see, I invent a hodge-podge of architectural amalgams in which modern structures are grafted onto older ones. The result is manic, comical, and poignant. I represent candy-colored skies, ghostly out-of-focus imagery, and dark silhouettes with inviting, painterly surfaces to depict wires, satellite dishes, and cement factories. Because I am intrigued by the social, ecological, and economic collisions in the neighborhood, I seek to provoke thought about what is taking place in our post-industrial landscape. I invite the viewer to enter an urban dystopia where familiar elements combine in unfamiliar ways create a luscious unease.

A second aspect of my work is public art, in which my paintings are fabricated for permanent installation in public spaces using materials such as mosaic. My commissions include a series of mosaic murals commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Houston Street subway station in Manhattan, a suite of roundels for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Terminal at the Port of Miami, and outdoor artwork for Garfield Avenue Station on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit System in Jersey City for New Jersey Transit. I am currently designing public artwork for an animal shelter and veterinary clinic in Memphis, Tennessee.

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