DEBORAH FREEDMAN is a painter and printmaker whose work is deeply informed by nature. She makes suites of varying images of the Ashokan Reservoir and the Catskill Mountains. Her inner eye and skill in etching, monotype, and oil painting captures both the physical and emotional transformation of her subject.
After 9/11 the reservoir became almost inaccessible. What had once been an idyllic scene suddenly became threatened and "disturbed." Deborah's work, even though historically abstract, became less homage to the natural world and more a protest about the potential dangers of environmental and political disaster. The titles of her work: Good Night Irene, Every Breaking Wave, With or Without You, and Disturbed Landscapes refer to these concerns.
Deborah began her association with printmaking with Bob Blackburn at N.Y.U. and continued at his studio in 1987 as a guest artist.
A partial list of collections include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, Rutgers University, The Department of State, the Library of Congress, IPCNY, The Hess Collection, CITI, Morgan Guarantee Trust, J.Crew and Nordstrom. For an extended resume, see below on this page.
Freedman is a co-founder with Marjorie VanDyke of VanDeb Editions, a printmaking studio dedicated to collaborating with artists to experiment with intaglio and monotype.
ADDITIONAL PRINTS FOR PURCHASE AVAILABLE AT
1971 B.S., New York University
2019 W Gallery. Steamboat Springs, Colorado. MONOPRINTS
Floyd Memorial Library. Greenport, NY. 67 STEPS AND BEYOND
2018 The Majestic. Jersey City, NJ. A BETTER WORLD. Curated by Enrico Gomez
2017 Cross Contemporary. Saugerties, NY.
2014 LGBTQ Center. Kingston, NY
2012 Saugerties Public Library, Saugerties NY
2011 Knox College, Galesburg, Ill.
2009 Amos Eno Gallery, NYC
2008 Recovery Lounge, Upper Jay, NY
Pearl Arts Gallery. Stoneridge, NY
2007 Amos Eno Gallery, NYC
2006 Lott Gallery, NYC
2004 Enderlin Gallery, Roxbury, NY
2003 Roxbury Arts Group Gallery, Roxbury, NY
2000 Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY.
1995 The Printmaking Workshop, New York, NY
1984 St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY
1983 Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Ill.
1978 Douglas Library, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
1975 Artists Space, NYC
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2020 NEW OPTICS. The Painting Center, NYC.
2019 PAINTERS PRINTS. Kent State University. Canton,Ohio. Curated by Jack McWhorter
ART ON PAPER. Site Brooklyn. Curated by Rebecca Lax.
GREEN; THE IMPOSSIBLE COLOR. The Painting Center, NYC. Curated by Rachael Wren.
ON THE ROCKS. Susie Eley Gallery. NYC.
NO PEOPLE NO TREES: Four Artists & Abstraction. WIRED GALLERY. High Falls, NY.
THREE PAINTINGS. 11 Jane St.Gallery. Saugerties, NY
SOLAR IMPRESSIONS. Southampton Arts Center. Southampton, NY.
2018 INTRODUCTIONS 2018. Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. Curated by Enrico Gomez
SIDESHOW NATION. Sideshow Gallery. Brooklyn, NY.
PRNTMAKING. Salamgundi Club, NYC.
BLACK AND WHITE. Site Brooklyn. Curated by Rosario Güiraldes
CONTEMPORARY LANDSCAPES. Roxbury Arts Group. Roxbury, NY.
LUXURIOUS GROWTH. Lichtundfire. New York, NY. Curated by Robert Curcio.
SENSE OF ICE. Lichtundfire. New York, NY. Curated by Robert Curcio.
2017 HOT OFF THE PRESSES. Curated by Dee Shapiro The National Arts Club, NYC.
RIVER WOMAN. Odetta. Brooklyn, NY
HORIZONS.Curated by Faye Hirsch. Center for Contemporary Printmaking. Norwalk, CT.
SIDESHOW NATION. Sideshow Gallery. Brooklyn, NY.
WHITE OUT. Cross Contemporary. Saugerties, NY.
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. W Gallery. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
HYGGE. Cross Contemporary. Saugerties, NY.
2016 COWGIRLS OF THE HUDSON VALLEY NO. 5. Brik Gallery, Catskill, NY. Curated by Rich Timperio.
UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Village West Gallery, Jersey City, NJ.
HORIZON. Cork Printmakers, Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork, Ireland. Fyns Grafiske Vaersted, Odense, Denmark. Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Norwalk, CT. Curated by Faye Hirsch.
PRINTS FROM OEHME GRAPHICS. Space Gallery, Denver, CO.
APRIL FLOWERS. Queens College Art Center, Flushing, NY. Curated by Xico Greenwald.
2015 SMALL WORKS. Baruch College Gallery. CUNY, NYC.
SHIFTING ECOLOGIES 2. Athens Cultural Center, Athens NY
HARVEST. Roxbury Arts Group. Roxbury, NY.
2014 SIDESHOW NATION . Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn NY.
SHIFTING ECOLOGIES The Painting Center. NYC.
YEARNING UPWARDS The Painting Center. NYC.
Gallery AMI&KANOKO, Osaka, Japan. PRINTS
BOLD NATURE. Standard Motors Building,Long Island City,NY.
PAPER WHITE . P.S.209 Stoneridge, NY.
2013 A VISUAL HISTORY OF WOMENS HISTORY MONTH. Empire State College, NYC.
SIDESHOW NATION. Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn NY.
PAPER WORKS: WORKS ON PAPER. RAGS, Roxbury NY
COWGIRLS OF THE HUDSON VALLEY Brik Gallery, Catskill NY.
FROM WHALE OIL TO WHOLE FOODS. Greene County Cultural Center
SUMMER EDITIONS. Lori Bookstein Fine Art, NYC.
2011 SELECTIONS:VANDEB. AMI&KANOKO Gallery, Osaka, Japan.
2010 SRING 2010. IPCNY, NYC. Selected by Philip Pearlstein
MONOTYPES. Pyramida Center, Haifa, Israel.
2009 HUDSON VALLEY MODERNISM. Ephraim Dupuy House. Stoneridge, NY.
APPETIZINGPICTURES Hudson Guild Gallery, NYC
MONOTYPES. National Arts Club. NYC.
NY PUBLISHING PRINTSHOPS Ink Shop, Ithaca, NY
FOUR SEASONS . Hudson Guild Gallery, NYC..
MOTHER EARTH. Hudson Guild Gallery, NYC.
WATER. Chace/Randall Gallery, ANDES, NY.
HOT OFF THE PRESS. PRINTS FROM NY PUBLISHERS. Grolier Club, NYC.
2006 MONOPRINTS: ONE OF A KIND. Chelsea Eye Gallery, New York, NY.
PRINTS FROM VANDEB EDITIONS. Paul Kuhn Gallery, Calgary, Canada.
2005 MADE IN L.A./ N.Y.Weingart Gallery, Occidental College, LA, California
A VIEW OF ONE’S OWN. Haddad /Lascano Gallery, Great Barrington, Mass.
FIFTEEN LANDSCAPES. Enderlin Gallery, Roxbury, NY.
REAL COMPARED TO WHAT? Gallery 128. New York, NY.
2004 LANDSCAPE. Pesquiera Gallery, Miami Beach, Florida.
2002 GROUNDED. Rosenberg+Kaufman. NYC.
NIGHT OF A THOUSAND DRAWINGS. Artists Space. NYC
WATER. Whitney Art Works. Greenport, NY.
SCALE. The Donskoj Gallery, Kingston, NY
VANDEB EDITIONS 1999-2002.Albright Knox Gallery.
2001 SIX SMALL PAINTINGS. Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY.
SNAPSHOT. Baltimore Museum of Art, Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Ct.
2000 SUN SIGNS Rosenberg/Kaufman Fine Art. NYC
LANDESCAPE. Deu Donne Papermill. NYC .
1998 SUMMER. Rosenberg+Kaufman Fine Art. NYC.
1996 25TH YEAR RETROSPECTIVE: WOMEN ARTISTS SERIES. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Mabel Smith Douglass Library,New Brunswick, NJ.
1995 MASTER PRINTS AND MASTER PIECES, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts,Taiwan .
1994 PAPER CHASTENED Betancourt Gallery, New York, NYC.
1992 PRINTS FROM THE PRINTMAKING WORKSHOP. Cleveland Institute of Fine Arts,
1991 RETAKES. Prints and Drawing Council of Canada, Toronto, Canada .
AQUA PURO: IMAGES OF WATER IN CONTEMPORARY ART. HBO NYC.
WATER. Trenkman Gallery, New York, NYC
1990 WRIT IN WATER. Solo Press Gallery, NYC
WORKS ON PAPER ‘90,Salena Gallery, Long Island University, Brooklyn NY.
1989 PROJECTS AND PORTFOLIOS, The 25th National Print Exhibition, The Brooklyn Museum.
HBO: NYC. ABSTRACTION: THEMES AND VARIATIONS
1986 NY ABSTRACT ENERGY NOW. Islip Art Museum, Islip NY
1985 THE NON-OBJECTIVE WORLD. Curated by Stephen Westfall, Kamikaze,NYC.
ARTISTS BOOKS: FROM THE TRADITIONAL TO THE AVANT GARDE, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
1981 Frankfurt International Book Fair, Frankfurt, Germany. KUNSTVEREIN,
INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION OF ARTIST’S BOOKS
QUILTS. Elaine K Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY.
1980 SACRED RITUAL SECULAR RITUAL, St. Peter’s Church, NYC
. ELECTROWORKS. International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY
1977 CONTEMPORARY ISSUES, WORKS ON PAPER BY WOMEN, U of Utah; U of Houston; Women’s Building, Los
1976 PAPER. Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina.
GRANTS AND AWARDS, PUBLICATIONS
2019 Singular and Series: Monotype and Monoprint. Edited by Catherine Kernan, Janice C. Oresman and Laura G.Einstein.
GREEN:The Impossible Color. The Painting Center. NYC. Curated by Rachel Wren
2014 SHIFTING ECOLOGIES. The Painting Center. NYC. Curated by Marianne VanLent
2013 Artist in Residence FDR Four Freedoms Park. Roosevelt Island, NY
1990 MacDowell Colony Fellowship: Printmaking
1989 Guest Artist. Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. NYC
American International Group
Library of Congress
Morgan Guaranty Trust
Metropolitan Museum of Art
National Bank of North Carolina
New York Public Library
S.I. Newhouse Jr.
U.S. Department of State
DEBORAH FREEDMAN: PAINTING
An Essay by Poppy Johnson - February 1978
She is crouching over her pool (a child’s wading pool, round, about six feet in diameter, with rigid, not inflated sides) with an old strainer, her arm moving in graceful arcs, scooping out flecks of dried paint. The water ripples and sets the light dancing on its surface and then is still as a mirror, still as a window, waiting.
When she was twelve she wrote a story as narrated by a fish named Zollo. The fish tells the story of a young girl, crippled by polio, who can move in the water although not on land. First she takes underwater photographs but then invents a method of doing underwater waterproof drawings. The girl hopes to sell a few of them and become famous.
She mixes a dilute solution of oil paint in a little jar stirring with a brush. Her dancer’s body paces around the small pool, her painter’s eyes stare fixedly at the surface and then she kneels and pours the paint on to the water. She pours, drips, splatters, pushes, arranges the thin slick of color on the surface of the water.
She is in Paris, a great city for young painters, wandering by the banks of the Seine, idly browsing in bookstalls, leafing through old books, gleaning more information from the beautiful marbled end-papers than from the printed texts in a foreign tongue.
Perhaps now she mixes a second color in another jar and pours it also into the pool, or some metallic powders. Again she pushes and rearranges the liquid on liquid, the floating particles sliding and bumping on the surface of the disturbed water. She takes a long comb and rakes it through the water with easy gestures (a daydreaming mermaid absently combing the hair of her reflection).
There are things she has taught herself empirically: how the water behaves with the paint at different temperatures; how different paints react; and solutions and dilutents, all kinds of particular technical information. But even with this silent skill, the deft movements, there is the important sense of the activity that it is child’s play, lunatic alchemy, river priestess ritual.
The painting is made. It shimmers there on the surface of the pool. The task now is to catch its reflection, its mirror image, and fix it into that permanence of which the painting on the water is the antonym.
When she was a very young woman, it was discovered that despite an early childhood operation, she did not have binocular vision, almost no peripheral vision on one side, and a lack of depth perception. She went to school with mostly four year olds and did exercises and wore red and green glasses and relearned how to see. She still probably does not see “normally.”
She takes a sheet of white paper and holding it by one corner slowly drags it in a curve across the painting on the water and gently drops even the corner so she is touching nothing, holding on to nothing; just hovering over a blank white rectangle floating face down in a dirty pool.
To enter one of these paintings is to fall as suddenly as Alice and the experience the same irrelevance of personal scale. Some creature equipped with enormous eyes and membraneous wings is free falling, gliding, swooping, soaring through space. The space is always enormous but in some paintings (POND, GROUND WATER, MOSS FALL) it seems the enormity of a few square inches to a creature the size of a bacillus, and in others (MOUNTAIN SLIDE, AIRLIFT, ASTRODOME) the respective enormity of mountains to a condor, earth to a satellite, nebulae to a star.
She picks the paper out of the pool and lays it down to dry. The entire process is repeated, several times for each sheet of paper, many papers for each painting.
“The aerial angle produces a multiple viewpoint also found in Chinese Sung landscapes, where atmospheric depth was eliminated, but different perspectives were used convincingly to impart all the vital information about each landform and its spatial envelope.” Lucy Lippard.
The papers all finished and dried, she starts the next step of the process. She has already made a drawing of the structure of the painting, a structure in these recent works of triangles, truncated, fractured, crystalline triangles and corners. Now she must cut and piece, taking a corner of this sheet and transposing it to another section, moving, rearranging, matching, locating, organizing.
The numerous layers of paint do not create anything like an impasto effect, an awareness pushed at you of paint as paint. Each layer is thin and transparent so that the effect is of always hovering above what you are seeing and looking through layers, layers of water with particles suspended at different depths or layers of clouds or gases.
The triangles (A, Aleph the summoner, the beginning, the mountain, the upward-reaching; V, the vulva, going down to the earth, outstretched to the sky, balancing upon its point) are an internal structural decision, growing out of, breaking with her previous use of a border. The border was useful and resonant, connecting her work to Tibetan painting, manuscript illuminations, formalist concerns, but for the energy of these new paintings it would be too much a framing, a limiting device. Now she is expanding from the center with no limits.