After the World Trade Center towers came down on September 11, 2001, like many New Yorkers, artist Roz Dimon had a huge amount of grief to process.
She and her husband, James Dawson, were living in Soho at the time, but they had recently bought a home on Shelter Island. This is where they came in the aftermath of the tragedy. The Island took them in, both physically and symbolically, and it became the safe haven the couple needed at that time in their lives.
Today, Ms. Dimon’s husband is back working in New York City, but Ms. Dimon has chosen to stay on Shelter Island. This is where she makes her digital pieces using a unique registered art making process called a DIMONscape, including “Pale Male: A Pilgrimage,” a work that embodies her emotions about the pain of 9/11 and finding home when all feels lost.
“9/11 was a pivotal time for me,” Ms. Dimon said in an interview at her home. “This piece came out of that and was made on Shelter Island.”
The work is composed of multiple image layers and is designed as a state-of-the-art LED light box. Lit from behind, it resembles a stained glass window and the piece is named for Pale Male, the hawk that made its home in the balcony window of a Fifth Avenue apartment. The hawk is prominently featured in the work, but it also offers references to the Trade Center and as Ms. Dimon explains, takes viewers on a spiritual journey.
In 2013, the 9/11 Memorial Museum acquired “Pale Male” (number three in a series of 10) for its permanent collection. On Saturday, Ms. Dimon was at Guild Hall in East Hampton to present “Digital Art: A New Dimension in Storytelling,” a demonstration of the creative process behind her multi-layered digital drawings and paintings.
Ms. Dimon is constantly pushing the boundaries of digital art, and her work exists not only in the physical realm, but online as well where her pieces have complex stories to tell.
Using “Pale Male” as an example, during her Guild Hall presentation she also detailed an interactive wall-to-web technique in which viewers are invited to get more of the story by holding their smart phones over a digital QR code near the painting.
Viewers will be taken to a web page where they can literally scroll through the layers of the piece to learn more about its creation. As images are added on the screen, text below describes what the imagery means in context of the entire work.
“For me, digital is something I’ve always been trying to touch. Digit is your finger trying to bring intimacy to this medium,” Ms. Dimon explained. “I feel the most important thing about DIMONscapes is they are a physical work on the wall, and the interactive aspect invites education and exploration into the art.”
Ms. Dimon is now at work on a new DIMONscape in her studio. Titled “Love Letter For Sumire,” the piece is more than 100 layers deep and based on Haruki Murakami’s book “Sputnik Sweetheart” which references Laika, the dog sent into orbit by the Soviets early in the space race.
“It’s a sad story because the dog died,” Ms. Dimon noted. “The painting is about sorrow, joy and all things life is about. So it’s longing, imagery and love and how love seems to continually resurrect and spirituality always emerges.”
“What I love about Murakami’s work is it’s all about paradox,” she explained. “The truth lies in the questions and the pursuit, not the answers .”
The notion of technology is also present in the piece, not only the power it represents in the face of progress, but the need to stay connected to our humanity even as we embrace an ever-increasing number of technological advancements.
In the piece, one could easily find parallels with the digital age and its use in the creation of art. It’s certainly not a parallel lost on Ms. Dimon.
“What will we do with all these tools?” Ms. Dimon asked. “Will we say and do good stuff or bad stuff? These are amazing machines that we haven’t figured out yet. Our heart has to come along with them and bring emotion, spirit and some intellect.”
Roz Dimon “Digital Art: A New Dimension in Storytelling,” Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton. 324-0806.
Middle photo: Roz Dimon’s “Pale Male: A Pilgrimage,” DIMONscape 2005, 48″ x 36″ edition of 10.