Frank Damiano received his BA and MA from Central Washington University, Ellensberg, WA in 1984 and 1985 respectively, and earned an MFA from the University of California, Davis in 1987.
Damiano’s work has always had an emblematic side. In his early collages and paintings, objects were presented rather as one finds them displayed in traditional heraldry. They are symbolic, rather than actual. As his work has developed, he has shown a greater interest in, and a closer contact with, observed reality, but the objects included in his still lifes continue to function, not only as things in themselves, but as archetypes. This remains true even when they are drawn from a range of domestic items familiar to any American household.
Damiano makes use of items of this sort, but less assertive ones – a sock-monkey, for instance, or a balloon with a smiley face. In his hands, these become emblems of contemporary American domesticity – the small change of family life in a highly industrialized society, where mass consumption is no longer a choice, but simply a given. Damiano’s still life are frequently treated as if they are quotations, rather than directly observed visual events, presented for their own sake. In other words Damiano deliberately subverts established ideas about realism in order to engage the spectator in a dialogue not about how things look, but about the different ways in which they can be depicted. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – an essentially Conceptual artist disguised as a traditional realist.
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