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Suckerman, Deva

acrylic painting
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Deva grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her memories of being an artist go back to childhood when she spent long days at her drawing table and excitedly set up mini art exhibitions in her dad's living room. From 1990-1994, Deva pursued a major in illustration at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul where she was influenced by non-traditional editorial illustrators like Tim Bower, Matt Mahurin and Marshall Arisman. During her final year at CVA, she was awarded the Virginia Rahja Scholarship for achievement in painting. Upon heading out into the world, Deva pursued both illustration and fine art, creating images for CoffeeHouse Press and the Twin Cities City Pages while also exhibiting her paintings in local venues and out of her studio in the Lowertown artists' community in St. Paul. In 1997, Deva moved to Chicago to pursue a master's degree in Art Therapy. She attended the University of Illinois at Chicago where she was awarded a Program Assistant position. The next two years were dedicated to school, going to art shows, and building roots in a new city. After graduating in 1999, Deva threw herself back in to painting- large pieces of old wood left behind by a roommate became her canvas. Moving to Pilsen later that year enabled her to expand her studio and, two years later, to open PartsUnknown Gallery where she exhibited and promoted work by her favorite local artists.

Since that time, Deva has had the privilege of being a part of the Chicago arts community on several levels- as an exhibiting artist and through involvement in various non-profit and city funded programs. She was invited to be a visual arts panelist for the CAAP grant and served two years as ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation's Treasurer and VP of Grants. She provided the cover image for the City of Chicago's National Women's History Month Calendar and was a featured artist for Chicago Artists Month, an annual event sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs. Deva's work has received reviews in TimeOut Chicago, Critic's Choice in the Chicago Reader, and three curator's choice awards from the Around the Coyote Arts Organization. She was a featured artist in Studio Visit Magazine, the sister publication to New American Paintings. Deva currently balances and integrates her art life with her life as a licensed counselor and art therapist working with children and youth in foster care. She runs her studio out of the Mana Contemporary Arts Building in Chicago.

The perfect day for me is a day in my studio. The time I spend there is never wasted. It's a space where I feel the most fulfilled and the most true to myself, rummaging through piles of found wood, building canvases from my finds, and seeing where the process takes me.

I am fascinated with collecting and creating from found materials. When I start a painting, I'm often inspired by the texture of the wood, the grain, nail holes, burn marks, weathering, the most unique qualities of what I'm working with. Giving new life to discarded objects and finding the beauty in what is broken is an inspiring process.

While the material is often the starting point, it becomes about finding a sense of unity between material and image, a space where imperfections, scars, beauty and darkness can all coexist. Combining the warmth of distressed wood canvases with elusive and radiant figures creates an unlikely duality. The mood is peaceful and haunting, perfect and flawed.

A lot of people ask me who my women are. They're not specific people as much as they are representations of thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences. So many stories go through my mind as I work- she feels safe, she tries to let go, she emerges from a storm, she wants to be at peace, she descends under the weight, she pushes and pulls- internal battles that are familiar to all of us. In the end, the stories fall away as I look to feel and create a sense of balance.
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