Debra Pearlman’s work emerges from her unique candid photographs of children, usually in fleeting and spontaneous moments. These images become the source material and building blocks for her predominantly abstract compositions. Mysterious and often ambiguous, Pearlman fragments her imagery, altering scale and color to recontextualize human gesture and glance. Her imagery coalesces with textured geometric shapes and shifting colors resulting in the poetic monoprints in this exhibition. Pearlman received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has had solo exhibitions and group exhibitions in the United States and internationally. She has received support from The Meredith S. Moody Residency at Yaddo, The Peter S. Reed Foundation, Dieu Donne Residency, the Lower East Side Print Shop, Artist’s Space, and Blue Mountain Center. Reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Art in America, Time Out New York, The New England Art Journal, the Chicago Sun-Times and other publications. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The New York Public Library, Walker Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Museum Stzuki in Lodz, Poland to name a few.

Artist Statement:


Photography always has occupied a central place in my work, as direct street photography and as source material for paintings and photo-based objects. As color photographs, they may be presented in intimately scaled versions or larger (ones, (up to 27 x 30 inches. )The subjects are typically children caught unawares in action, revealing an array of ambiguous emotions. The photographs record moments of unaffected physical language.


Using certain images repeatedly, I distill them over time by altering materials, scale, and orientation. When incorporated into larger works on canvas, the images sometimes are cropped to create nearly abstract fragments. These may be overlaid with geometric elements that echo movement within an image, allowing parts of a photo to take on new meanings. I employ surface textures that refract and reflect light, reorient the images, and highlight moments to change context and focus. Information is layered, obscured, and revealed, offering new viewpoints.


Photographic etchings add a dimension to the core of my work. Fragments from my photographs provide textured grounds that are incorporated into etching plates. Image and texture, variation and repetition, revealing and concealing, add additional layers and processes to my ongoing body of work.