Denise Deleray

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Immigration, Integration & Diversity
Toxic Beauty Photography
Together we Lost, together we shall endure, 2011 Mixed Medium 12x12 © yes
Quick Facts

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength." - Maya Angelou


I started my career as a make-up artist and wigmaker at the San Francisco Opera in the 1980's. Working on productions like Aida and Turandot gave me the opportunity to make-up characters of diverse ethnicity.

Over time, my creative direction evolved to portrait painting on canvas. My travels took me to Sydney Australia, where I studied art and portrait painting by day at the University of New South Wales, and worked at the Sydney Opera House by night.

In 2003, I moved to New York City and studied at the Art Students League. Mesmerized by the beautiful ethnic diversity of New York City, I created a series of 12 portraits of women entitled "We are One", representing the many faces of NYC including Asian, African, Hispanic, Polynesian, Indian and Celtic. 

Soon after, skin tones took over the focus of my artwork. I abstracted out just the skin tones and the figurative art disappeared. I studied immigration and places of ethnic diversity. I began creating geographical maps of places with highly diverse populations, such as New York, California and the USA, with dots and dashes of color representing skin tones, and drips of color representing streams of migration.

Today my art asks the question: How does immigration and integration affect diversity in our cities, countries and our world?  Is it chaos or utopia?  Imagine no geographical that good, bad, or even possible?

Denise Deleray

February 2015