Artist Statement

I am on a quest to communicate through abstract paintings. I am fascinated by what this medium can do and where it takes me. I aim to create alluring paintings that are approachable and that bring joy to both me and the others who view them. Joy is necessary. My goal is to create works people view and feel a sense of balance, delight, and thrill. I want people to invite my work into their spaces, whether their home or for public view in the community through murals, and cherish how my art lights up its surroundings.


My process is surprise-based and exploratory and often ordered in surprise, restructure, explore, and resolve–then repeat as needed. I use organic shapes and linework to take the viewer on an unexpected path of meditation. My inspirations and subject matter reveals itself to me throughout the day and I enjoy making direct responses to my earlier works as they continue to intrigue and guide me.

My recent work has focused on how my paintings can be experienced in non-traditional ways to reach a broader audience. I have explored sharing through video, sound, augmented reality, and public surfaces to communicate my artistic voice, process, and work. These additional outlets, other than on a canvas in a gallery setting, have provided me an opportunity to become a gateway artist for many first-time art buyers that feel a connection to my art and want to invite abstract art into their lives, which I find deeply special and rewarding.

About Dena

Dena Nord blends together design thinking with an organic process to create vivid abstract paintings. Her artwork brings statements to walls by offering visual playgrounds for the eye.

She was born and raised outside of Chicago, IL. She received her BFA from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 2009, where she focused on both design and painting. Dena currently works as an artist and educator while living in Milwaukee, WI. She is also a founding partner at Odvant Creative, a small design studio. Her work has been exhibited at the augmented world expo in Santa Clara California, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Rochester Museum of Fine Arts, Gallerie M and Redline Gallery in Milwaukee, and other galleries throughout her career. In 2017, she was a founding member of Spectacle Art Group, a group of artists focusing on art vs tech. See her personal photography series, called The Feet Project.

EDUCATION
2007 • Summer Abroad in Tuscany, University of Georgia
2009 • BFA, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

EMPLOYMENT
5/15–Present • Odvant Creative, Partner and Founder
3/12–5/15 • Milwaukee Art Museum, Designer
3/12–5/15 • Splash Studio, Lead Artist & Designer
3/11–3/12 • The Kohler Company, Designer

TEACHING EXPERIENCE
11/08–1/09 • Milwaukee Jewish Day School
3/12–5/15 • Splash Studio
2/14 • Garden Homes Lutheran High School
11/14–Present • Cedarburg Cultural Center
1/16 • Carmen High School Winter Session

RESIDENCIES
2014 • Finalist for Artist in Residence, The Pfister Hotel
5/15 • Artist in Residence, Cedarburg Cultural Center
2016–2017 • Bay View High School Artist in Resident, Milwaukee WI

FEATURED LIVE PAINTER
6/12 • Common Pitch Milwaukee
2012 • Eisner Museum, New Years Eve
2013 & 2014 • Milwaukee Art Museum, New Years Eve
2014 & 2015 • Urban Island Beach Party
2015 & 2016 • Arte Para Todos
2017 • Colors and Chords at Turner Hall Ballroom
2017 • Salvation Army of Wisconsin Red Kettle Gala

PUBLIC  ART
8/13  •  Little Free Public Library
2014–2016 •  Artist Working in Education, Lead Summer Artist
2015  •  Milwaukee Maker Faire Bottle Cap Portrait Creation
2017  •  Bay View Flow Mural on Kinnickinnic Ave

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
10/11  •  Brookfield High School
6/12  •  The Hide House
7/12  •  Splash Studio
4/13  •  Gallerie M
7/13  •  Timothy J. Showcase
9/15   •  Tonic Tavern Bay View
7/17  •  Gallerie M

JURIED EXHIBITIONS
2/14  •  Cedarburg Cultural Center, You Gotta Have Art Gala
5/14  •  Augmented World Expo: AR Art Gala
8/14  •  Splash Studio, Complex Croma
4/15  •  Arts At Large, 43 Voices
5/15  •  Rochester Museum of Art, 2015 Biennial

GROUP SHOWS
11/08  •  Dark Star Galleria
1/11  •  The Hide House, Gallery Night
5/11  •  Art Milwaukee Jamboree
9/11 & 11/12  •  Made in Milwaukee
4/12–6/12  •  The Waxwing
6/14  •  Underground Collaborative
6/14–6/15  •  Revive Gallery
10/14  •  Italian Community Center
7/14  •  The Bradley Center, The Mecca Floor Project
5/15–9/15  •  The Muse Gallery Guest House
9/17  •  Redline Gallery, Culture Jam Group Show

ACHIEVEMENTS AND HONORS
Since 7/11  •  American Institute of Graphic Artists, Member
3/11  •  Art Mail Milwaukee, Featured Artist
1/12  •  Art House Reveal Art Contest, 1st Place
11/12  •  League of Milwaukee Artists, Guest Speaker
6/11 & 10/13  •  Art Milwaukee, Piece of the Week
3/13  •  Creative Arts Council, Founding Member
6/13  •  Innovation in Milwaukee Arts Competition, 1st Place
2013  •  The Dena Nord App
2013–2014  •  League of Milwaukee Artists, Member
2015  •  Design Like Mad, Participant
2015  •  Muscular Dystrophy Association Artist Auction, Participant
2017  •  Founding Member of Spectacle Art Group