The Drawing Room Annex Presents

May 4 - May 27, 2024

Hosted by The Drawing Room
in partnership with the de Young Museum

Artist Reception on
Saturday, May 4th, 2024, 4-9pm

The Drawing Room Annex, 599 Valencia Street, San Francisco 
Featuring the Work of the 2024 Arts Fellows Recipients

Denise Tarantino & Lexie Bouwsma

The SKD Arts Fellowship Program was created by The Drawing Room in conjunction with the FAMSF to remember artist Sarah Delson who passed away May 4, 2023. This program was designed to both honor Sarah and to help artists with illness that have induced a significant shift in their work. Made possible by an endowment built from family, friends, and Sarah's community, this program is established in her memory, inspired by her passion for making art and the essential role it played in her life.

You can find the FAMSF Press Release here and

The Drawing Room Press Release here.

To view the collection


Lexie Bouwsma Artist Statement

My works on paper explore human pathos present in the modern First World condition, which I have exaggerated and made absurd in an effort to understand the world around me. Combining line-work and gestures inspired from centuries-old woodcuts, and a vaudeville, slapstick style, I use sticks, brushes, and syringes to swirl ink around my figures creating sentient dream-like landscapes. My figures are extremely sensitive, but they frequently misidentify their emotions. They have their own coping mechanisms, and in some cases they simply don’t cope. They are volatile, hurling themselves to the floor at the slightest provocation. Part of why they attack each other is that they seek physical contact. I believe that they get very lonely. They are sensorily inclined and curious, which manifests in both inward and outward emotional behaviors that range from quietly contemplative to the exploration of certain sadistic impulses. They seem unaware of their own nudity, lending them a kind of wide-eyed innocence. They are laid bare.


Denise Tarantino Artist Statement

I am excited to share my story with you. Despite having lifelong medical challenges, I have remained positive, adapted, and pursued my passion for photography. It has not been easy, but I persevere through it one day at a time.

I was born with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a bone condition that makes my bones fragile and causes profound hearing loss. Living with OI safely means a lot of physical restrictions. These limitations were very isolating for me as a child. I was less than a year old when I was diagnosed. However, the experience also brought some gifts: sharp observation skills and a unique sense of humor. These skills allowed me to find hidden beauty in situations and places often overlooked.

At 15, I discovered my passion for film photography in an industrial arts class. I used to spend all my free time in the darkroom, learning and experimenting with photography, which gave me so much joy and a sense of fellowship. I saved all my money from working at a local farm to buy my first camera, an Olympus OM1. Although I was starting my photographic journey, I always kept my camera nearby as it became my travel companion, giving me access to people and places I wouldn't have been able to experience otherwise.

After completing my undergraduate studies in design and photography at Kutztown University, I pursued further education in photography at the International Center for Photography in New York City. At the same time, I worked in the fashion advertising industry and gained experience in utilizing lighting to showcase product features and enhance color. My job as the 'light keeper' was to ensure that the fabric color and texture were accurately captured on Polaroid film. At that time, Polaroid test shots were essential for photographers who used transparency film to shoot. I came to appreciate the importance of testing Polaroids in the overall process. I fell in love with Polaroids; there is a unique beauty and power held in each photograph.

I struggled to keep up with my photography practice as I progressed in my career, so I decided to start taking my medium-format camera with me on business trips. During these trips, I noticed I was capturing portraits of rural America's crafty creations. I mainly focused on the everyday items in rural America's landscape, which I later named "American Roadside." This series won several awards and is a collection of primitive representations of unintended American craft—the images balance intention and neglect while evoking a sense of time and place.

A second series, "Space Between Here to There," was also created while traveling on the road. This series comprises a collection of quirky and amusing consumer messages displayed throughout the main roads from the airport leading to rural America. It includes signs, billboards, and odd commercially produced sculptures. One of the remarkable things that caught my attention is the American Giants, also known as Muffler Men. These are giant, hollow fiberglass statues constructed between 1963 and 1972. I captured these artifacts using a 35mm transparency film.

In 2012, I shattered my knee, and one month later, I lost my job as a result of office consultations. I saw this as an opportunity for my leg to heal, and I was more excited about having the time to start testing The IMPOSSIBLE project film. I learned a lot about how the film worked and was able to dismantle it, pushing boundaries beyond what it was initially designed for. I did this from my living room sofa while rebuilding my knee. The chemistry was newly formulated, and there was a lot of discovery to be gained. Once my leg was walkable, I began my animal portrait and farm series. This was my first series on Polaroid film. It was refreshing to be so portable.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) in 2015, I faced additional and continuous physical limitations that made me seriously consider giving up photography. I took some time to come to terms with it. I paused my camera shutter for a while; eventually, my love for film photography returned. I felt I needed to get grounded in gratitude. To that end, I created still-life portraits layered with storytelling honoring my childhood mentors.

Even when faced with challenges, I found a way to adapt and continue pursuing my passion. I discovered that each Polaroid image is a portable darkroom with its chemistry, which reminded me of the portability of photography. I refused to let my diagnosis stop me from embracing life and pursuing my dreams. Photography is always on my mind. I think about my images constantly, and they get me out of bed in the morning.