Catharine Clark Gallery presents Milk Made, our first exhibit of Deborah Oropallo’s work. The exhibit consists of photo-based pigment works on canvas and paper exploring the aesthetic and conceptual boundaries of photography, painting and digital art. Milk Made reflects on relationships—between animals, and between animals and food—where, as Oropallo states, “The ultimate end is always present, yet nurtured daily. To raise an animal, harvest it, and consume it is something I have only now come to witness.” Loss of connection to nature and the food that it provides is a shift in our culture, acknowledged by many and ignored by more. For Oropallo and her husband, the designer Michael Goldin, moving to a farm in Northern California provided an opportunity for them to raise animals and attempt to live in a self-sustaining environment. Milk Made is inspired by and derived from Oropallo’s experiences farming amidst the “innate gentleness and ferocity omnipresent in living with animals.”
Oropallo employs a myriad of techniques to achieve the rich and visceral expression in her artworks. She uses original photographs as raw data from which she collages and reinvents. By digitally removing sections of the Holstein cows in Cattle Class (2013), Oropallo gives the viewer a glimpse into the animal’s cavity, a view that echoes the physical extraction of meat and milk. Her technique confounds the foreground and background, rendering the images both unfocused and distorted, yet highlighted and sharp, minutely detailed and accented.
Nearly life-size in scale, rich with visual allusions, the works are deeply informed by the farming lifestyle she shares with Goldin, and also by an astute embodiment of art history, and the attendant references to life’s brevity or vanitas, present in Dutch and Flemish 17th century still life painting.
The Oropallo/Goldin home, farmstead and creamery, is itself a work in progress, an evolving experiment where the inhabitants are striving to realize the connections between art, design, and self-sustained living. The couple’s goal is to create a symbiotic system driven by design, food and creativity. As an extension and celebration of these efforts, the gallery will present a unique event during the course of the exhibition. Swine and Swill, a ticketed dinner held in the gallery, will feature some of the finest Bay Area talents in the fields of design, art, wine and food.