A Material World


Tramaine De Senna bills herself as a “Material Girl,” but her moniker has little in common with Madonna. “I really love and appreciate materials,” says De Senna, a slight figure in dark blue coveralls, with vivid auburn hair and dark brown eyes. While hanging her art for the upcoming Emerging Artists exhibition, which opens at the Sonoma County Museum Friday, Feb. 11, she takes the time to explain her creations. “I love to mess around with materials and transform their natural properties into something higher,” she says, “and I love to draw, because you’re just using the hand.” Large white wax marker on black paper drawings of muscular men and women in calisthenic poses, Body Building Bunnies, share wall space with the graceful curves of pale caulk frosting paintings. The distinctly different uses of materials express the artist’s breadth of work and interest in the duality of the materials she uses.

Spawned from watching wedding cake TV shows, De Senna initially tried to create paintings using real frosting, but soon switched to silicone caulk for its durability and archival qualities: “I used terribly stinky, carcinogenic caulking, a heavy-duty, construction-grade medium, and transformed it into something soft, delicate and beautiful.” Revisiting the duality of her materials and decor, De Senna points out the “dark side” of the patterns in the cakelike paintings; the cute little squirrels that suddenly have their heads blown off or are dropping turds, or the mushrooms that morph into penises. “I suggest,” she says whith a smile, “that people see beyond the surface of my art.”

Andrew Sofie and Laine Justice, two other emerging artists recognized by the Arts Council of Sonoma County, will also exhibit their work. Sofie explores the connections between “high technology and human existence” using semi-automated art, while Justice creates luminescent, almost fairy-tale-like paintings with paints and media made by hand.

“Emerging Artists,” funded by the Community Foundation and the Arts Council of Sonoma County, has an opening reception on Friday, Feb. 11, at the Sonoma County Museum. 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa. 5-7pm. Members Free, $5 nonmembers. Exhibition runs though April 4. 707.579.1500.