Debra Disman is a Los Angeles-based artist working primarily in the form of the book, both as a solo practitioner and in the public sphere of community engagement. As a maker and teaching artist she creates work and projects which push the boundaries of the book into new forms and materials.
Growing up in the American Midwest, she is informed by living in France, travelling in the US and Europe and living/working in the San Francisco Bay Area; as well as by deep experience as a teaching artist, color designer and the owner/principal of ArtiFactory Studio.
Disman was the featured artist for the Big Read in LA in 2016, showing at the Mike Kelley Gallery at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA; is the recipient of a WORD: Artist Grant / Bruce Geller Memorial Prize in 2016 to create “The Sheltering Book”, a life-sized book structure designed as a catalyst for community creativity; and was commissioned by LA’s Craft and Folk Art Museum to create an interactive book for the 2017 exhibition, “Chapters: Book Arts in Southern California".
She was a Studio Resident at the Camera Obscura Art Lab at 1450 Ocean in Santa Monica in 2018, and has twice been awarded a City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence grant: to work with visual and performing arts high school students and the surrounding community in the Sunland-Tujunga area of Los Angeles in 2017, and the Granada Hills Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library in 2018-19.
I currently work in the form of the book, in forms inspired by the book, and in new sculptural media of my own devising. Although the work remains tethered to loose definitions of the book as structure, it is moving progressively into other sculptural and conceptual realms where labor, repetition and a passion for the haptic become powerful motivators and themes.
In the process of working, I try to sidestep my conscious, critical mind and allow a deeply embedded and often repressed sense of flow take over, while remaining fluid, aware and receptive to the visual, visceral, conceptual and concrete directions the work is taking.
Achieving and remaining in a sense of flow where potential is infinite is mission critical to my working process. It is also this state that I try to bring those that I work with into, for it is in this state of purity, openness and unlimited possibility where new levels of connection and meaning emerge, and purpose, knowledge, wisdom and direction are clarified.
Having worked in the realm of the built environment for many years I am fascinated by the parallels between books and buildings in terms of structure, meaning, utility, architecture and effect. Each creates public and private spaces where stories are “read” on many levels, often revealing more than their authors and makers ever intended. I try to create such places and spaces of inspiration, contemplation, realization and bafflement in my work and to instigate investigation, exploration and discovery in myself and others.