Dana Sherwood is a New York based artist whose work explores contact between human and non-human animals in order to understand culture and behavior. Her sculptures, video works, and watercolors portray ritualized feedings Sherwood performs for animals who live among or at the borders of human populations. She experiments night after night to serve a population of animals with decadent cakes, sculpted gelatin molds, and rare meats that they will enjoy, capturing their indulgence on film and making drawings of the encounters. The animals play a complex role as subjects and collaborators, asserting their visibility and desires even as Sherwood’s work theorizes about the Anthropocene, the current geological epoch in which human activity has caused substantial, irreversible damage to the natural world.
Since receiving a BFA from the University of Maine in 2004 Sherwood has exhibited throughout The Americas and Europe including solo exhibitions at Nagle-Draxler Reiseburogalerie (Cologne), Denny Gallery (New York) and at Kepler Art-Conseil (Paris, 2017). Her work has also been shown at The Fellbach Sculpture Triennial(Germany), Kunsthal Aarhus, The Palais des Beaux Arts Paris, Marian Boesky Gallery, Mixed Greens Gallery, Socrates Sculpture Park, Flux Factory, The Biennial of Western New York, Prospect 2: New Orleans, Scotia Bank Nuit Blanche(Toronto), The CCBB(Brazil), dOCUMENTA 13, as well as many other venues worldwide.
She currently lives in Washington Heights with her husband and frequent collaborator, Mark Dion and is represented by Denny Gallery in New York.
"My work consists of two practices: the fieldwork where I am waiting, watching, filming and responding to the animals, and the studio where I edit the videos and make drawings and sculptures. I spend a great deal of my studio time drawing and painting, creating scenes taken directly from the videos, or sometimes scenes I imagined or wished would take place. I have found that over the years making this work that as much as I have learned about the animals I am watching, these reflections on nature have also affected the way that I approach drawing, painting, art making and life in general.
A consistent theme in my work is control. Specifically, the control of nature by mankind and our desire to tame it for our own purposes. But nature is unpredictable and our ingrained tendency to superimpose human traits on non human animals underscores this point. As Wittgenstein once said, “If a lion could talk we would not understand him.” My interpretation of this statement is exactly that, all living creatures have their own subjectivities and perceptions of the world that colors the way they view and interact within it. We love nature and we want it to flourish and be accessible in our daily lives, but the moment it starts to encroach on our territory, and subvert our perceived control, we reject it and try to dominate it."