We had the good fortune of connecting with Dinah Polhemus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dinah, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I am usually hesitant on taking risks, I am generally “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of girl, I wear my vans till they fall off my feet, then I get the exact same pair of vans to replace them. I patch up clothes instead of replacing them, I buy pants a size up “just in case”-so risks really aren’t something I naturally am drawn to. However, I remember my mom pushing me towards applying to my now art school, The Art Institute of Chicago. I had doubted I would get in due to my many times failed math classes and not so glowing grades, but my mom believed in my work and pushed me towards making that leap of faith to apply to SAIC. This, to me, was a huge risk, do I apply and possibly get rejected or I get accepted and now I have the weight of working towards a higher education? It was a risk that paid off and I was accepted and currently attend SAIC, due to Covid-19, I had to stay with my parents for a while, but I am excited to take another risk and move to Chicago and complete my education.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Currently I feel as though I am going through a transitional phase within my work, where I am traveling towards a more mixed media with an incorporation of fiber arts such as patchwork and embroidery within my oil paints. As for inspiration I love to pull ideas from literature, music or folklore, my most recent works being based off the folk album “Aeroplane Over the Sea” and Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”…I tend to draw from a wide range of resources. I am excited to work on this new chapter within my work, I feel in my heart it will be big.
I would still consider myself within the early stages of my artistic career, it is difficult to push yourself out there, and you become used to rejection. Along with that, I am still a student learning, so settling on a style is still in a transitional state, but gives me freedom to try new and different things. The best advice I would give someone who is working towards their artistic career is to keep your sense of humor about you, and to not take you or your work too seriously-I think its the artist’s ego that can get the best of them most of the time. Most opportunities come when the time is right.
I think I want the world to know about my work is that it is mine, nothing makes me happier when people recognize me from my work. For example I had an gallery showing at a small local coffee shop for about three months, and when I go downtown and order something from any store downtown, the employees recognize my name and ask about my work. The first time it happened I remember going to my car and crying, it felt like I made it in some small way, that someone paid attention to my art enough that they remembered it…that they remembered me. I hope one day my art is synonymous with my name worldwide.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I really love the Contemporary Museum of Art, I had just recently seen their Keith Haring Exhibition, and every time I come down I make sure I visit the exhibits. I am hoping they do a showing for Jenny Morgan-I will be first in line for that exhibition. So my first stops would be to hit up all the museums, and maybe grab some Poke from the Poke House on 17th street. Later I would go to Mile High comic and search for Hellboy comics and hit up all the card shops in the city for Magic the Gathering cards as well. I love to take people to the Denver Omelet Plaque on 16th, I just like the odd touristy stuff so that is a must see if you ask me. Lastly I would go to the closest Habachi restaurant and eat my weight in food.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Definitely my parents, who have always been my biggest supporters and encouragers of my work, and who support my creativity, and my mess. They taught me to have a hard work ethic, to be confident in the things I do, and gave me the freedom to express myself. Without their influence I couldn’t and wouldn’t be as successful as I am today. Lastly, I would also like to shout out to my muse, partner, and best friend who uplifts and inspires me everyday.