My Profile Interview with Denise Restauri on / by leslie graff

Here is an excerpt, but for the full three page feature head to

Graff: When I was 12 years old, I loved painting flowers, parrots, and nice still-lifes, so I signed up for an art class at the St. Louis Art Museum, a co-ed group of 12 year olds. It’s already an awkward stage of life and it got even more awkward when the instructor took us into an ancient art gallery filled with nude sculptures and told us to draw the marble Adonis and Aphrodites. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t even have those parts on my body! I fumbled around with my sketchbook for as long as possible and decided to draw it in the lightest grey so no one could tell how bad it was, because they wouldn’t be able to see it.
After surviving a couple of hours of torture, the teacher lined up everyone’s drawing for a group critique. There was no back row, no hiding place, it was like a bad police lineup in the middle of the gallery. She told me I did a good job of using up the space but I should not be afraid to get into the “dark.” She could see that I liked doing things that I was good at, I didn’t want to make mistakes and it was painful to do things that didn’t come naturally and easily to me. She seemed to expose my personal nakedness. The bigger message was this: In art, as in life, there has to be contrast for things to really be appreciated. As a 12-year-old I didn’t quite understand it all at the time, but as I grew up, the thoughts and meanings distilled over time and I realized that critique gave me power because it helped me grow in areas that were weak. Art is the land of erasers, blank paper and painting over, and is filled with potentials and opportunity.
— Denise Restauri for