Denise Rouleau was born and raised in Duluth, MN. Living and traveling in Europe as a young adult have strongly influenced her academic and artists endeavors. She received her BA in International Relations and Italian Literature at the University of Minnesota. During a fifth year of study at the University of Bologna, she attended a Byzantine art course which kindled a growing interest in medieval art and architecture. Denise returned to Italy to study traditional mosaic methods at the Cooperative Mosaica in Ravenna; after returning home, she reinterpreted these techniques with rocks collected from Minnesota lake shores.
Denise enjoys working with materials in unexpected ways. Her multimedia installations tempt viewers to look closer, uncover secrets, and create stories. With her collaborator, Mark Roberts, she populated vintage letterpress cases with clay mummy figures and produced a series of manipulated polaroid imagery at Como Park’s Marjorie McNealy Conservatory. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Denise maintains a studio in Minneapolis and completed an eight month certification with the Minnesota New Institute of Ceramic Education in 2015.
I create present day archaeological vignettes in clay and mixed media. I think of my work as a collection of open ended stories that prompt questions about life, death, and human nature. Sometimes the stories are already there or develop as I work on a piece.
I am fascinated by how we piece together obscure artifacts and fragments of a story into a narrative where we can somehow place ourselves. It may give us reassurance and guidance or leave us with uncomfortable truths that we would rather keep buried.
My work ranges in scale from small and intimate to monumental and numerous. I fuss over the minute features of each clay form knowing it will probably get lost in the collective scheme. I am interested in how we are drawn to the details of a single individual and how easily we detach when we become overwhelmed by the sum of them all.
I work with materials in unexpected ways and search for beauty in the imperfect. I give new life to objects that are past their lifespan. I stretch clay until it cracks, or even breaks. I enhance its textural wounds with multiple washes of watered down paint or leave it in its natural bleached bone-like state.
I want my pieces to feel as though they have been uncovered rather than created. Ultimately, I hope my work invites others to wonder and create stories