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Meet Michael and Charith Denson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael and Charith Denson.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Well, where should we start?

Charith and I both are deeply creative people and have been for pretty much all of our lives. I went to school in Santa Fe, NM where I studied photography and fine art. Immediately after graduating I found a job working as a photographer for the National Parks Service documenting archeological sites. I did this for about three years until 2009 when I moved to Phoenix. At this point, I decided to put down the camera and ventured to explore other art forms. Since then I’ve been doing mixed media works on canvas and more recently been exploring installation art. In 2013 I was connected with a small arts nonprofit in Phoenix called The Rag Collection. This was my first introduction to using art and creativity as a tool to speak on behalf of the marginalized. It was here that I was able to help design programs and projects for underprivileged youth and use art and creativity as a means of healing and empowerment.

Charith, also a trained photographer, has worked in the communications and marketing department of Food for the Hungry since 2008. Food for the Hungry is an international nonprofit providing relief and development to impoverished communities all around the world. And Charith, lucky gal, has had the opportunity to travel to 10 of those countries procuring photographs and stories. In 2013 Charith began exploring painting and drawing and had pushed and developed her artistic voice ever since. In 2013 she was also connected to the same nonprofit, The Rag Collection, where she volunteered her time creating art and teaching photography to underprivileged youth. It was here where we met…

I mean obviously, it was love at first sight. Charith and I began creating art together, then fell more in love, created more art, curated art shows for local galleries, created art with others, got married, created even more art, started a home curating and art business, led an artist community group, created art, then created a baby, then created a little bit more art…and this is how our story continues….

Please tell us about your art.
Early on in our relationship, Charith and I experimented and collaborated on art projects. I would start a painting, get to a stopping point, pass it to Charith; she would add in some details, get to a stopping point and then pass the piece back to me. On and on we did this until we both felt that the piece was complete. We both were pretty amazed at how much our styles seemed to blend together seamlessly. From here we continued to ask the question, “what else can we collaborate on?” We both love DIY projects, so we started repurposing furniture. We both love interior design, so we started doing home curating. With all of our creative practices, we have found this sweet spot of marrying my clean lines and geometry with Charith’s free-flowing designs and bold patterns. In this creative collaboration, Denson Creative was born.

When it comes to our visual art, we primarily use acrylics, photography, charcoal and spray paint. With my work, I focus more on spiritual themes, trying to work out the reality of the sacred space and human condition. I jump between figurative drawings and purely abstract works. Charith’s work is focused more on identity and cultural inclusivity, through painted designs on photographed portraits.

We are both mixed media artists, and though we both have our “go-to’s” for creating works on canvas, we are always reaching outside of the box. One thing that we are very passionate about is community and conversation. We love creating, collaborating and participating in creative ventures that bring people together and prompt meaningful conversation. Most recently we created installation works at our church for a quarterly event called Resonant. This event is essentially a “church service” with a highly creative spin. Through art, music, and liturgy, space is created for attendees to reflect contemplatively.

What do you think about the conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
Yes! This is a huge topic for us. As far as artists working in and with the city, in my opinion, there will always be some level of difficulty in this relationship. Sure I could say, “Cities NEED to support their artists no matter what!” And a part of me believes this to be absolutely true. But, I know it isn’t that simple.

I will say that artists need to know that cities are constantly changing. They are organic, living things. The beauty of being an artist is that we have the ability to adapt. We have the ability to embrace the change, go with the flow, and find new inspiration. Yes, this is a struggle. A struggle that I know all too well having been an artist living and working in downtown Phoenix for a few years.

However, I do wholeheartedly believe that cities, communities, businesses, churches, organization, neighborhoods, all need to individually and collectively work together to create space for artists. Cities thrive when it’s creative community is thriving. When artists are thriving, they begin to create an environment that is exciting and unique. This was the incredible appeal of Roosevelt Row.

We need to understand the importance of the arts and how wide creative communities span. Visual artists, musicians, chefs, designers, architects, the list goes on…They all collectively define the culture of cities and communities. So why are we not creating more space and conversation to allow artists to speak into this? Cities need to understand that artists and creatives don’t just create “pretty (or weird) things.” They create culture. They tell you what and who your city is. Artists are the ones that set you apart and give you a voice.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can primarily view our work on our website www.DensonCreative.art be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to hear about our latest creative ventures. Also, stalk us… I mean, follow us on Instagram if you want to get to know us better. We’re always posting about art, projects, travel, family, etc…

If you want to see our work in person, head down to Seraphina Coffee in Downtown Phoenix OR Because Event space on University just north of the 10 OR RC Gorman Gallery in Scottsdale OR The Cottage Wellness center on 3rd St and Osborn. That’s it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Michael Denson, Charith Denson, and Abhishek Scariya

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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