Artist Statement

My paintings and drawings are driven by my wonder at the miraculous interaction between surface and image, material and content, signs and the things they represent. I treat speech, representation and knowledge as performative activities that use the framework of a stage, not unlike tricks in a magic show. Some of my paintings give you a peek at this stage production from the side, or a view before the show begins. In this world, position and point of view can change the meaning of the show, or reveal its constructs and break its illusion.

Multiple points of view in time and space play out in the repetition and doubling of images throughout my work. Sometimes this repetition illustrates the passage of time, as if I’ve pulled two frames from an animation. I steal visual traits, too, from the world of cartoons. Tapping sources like Betty Boop, Bambi and Wile. E Coyote, the signs and stylistic tropes I take are visually crisp and clear. Their clarity provides a foil to the ambiguities presented in the paintings as a whole, as when what appears to be a spotlight suddenly becomes the moon.

These doubled and temporal spaces provide fertile ground to cultivate the complex behavior of words inside pictures. Conjurors I and II, two paintings that hang across from one another, present opposite views of a looped phrase, “I know you know”. These paintings imagine the semantic flip between the words “I” and “you” as a gestalt change, two sides of an ellipse shifting closer and farther in the mind’s eye.

Some works entertain the idea that paintings can have properties usually attributed only to statements. They can be true or false, they can mislead, and they can make promises. Assume (Say) compares a picture inside a frame to a statement literally inside quotation marks, and tags a quaint forest landscape with the words “she claims”. I propose that “she”, the invisible speaker, claims this landscape to have depth, distance, and light, just by depicting it like so.

A gesturing hand appears throughout my work as a tool to compare pointing and touching as ways to gather knowledge. The pointing hand in Mouse resembles a magician’s misdirecting gesture. This is my distilled illustration of the dubious function of any picture–to point elsewhere. On the other hand, the fingerprints and smudges in Rubbing (Impossible Object I and II) are physical evidence of a haptic investigation, as if you could understand a picture by touching it.

In my current project, How to Gather Information, a painting transforms when a privy viewer stands in the correct position, and views it through a red screen. The screen reveals hidden text, as if by magic. The atmosphere I return to over and over in my work speaks to the mystery I encounter in the gap between fingertips and feeling, syntax and semantics, a painting’s surface and a picture’s depth. I waver between believing these things hang together by real magic, and thinking their unity is just a magic trick. I aim to create a painting that entices an audience with pleasure and unease to reckon with this magic, real or illusory.



Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME
MFA, Columbia University, New York, NY
BFA, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Soft Fact, Clima, Milan, IT
The Set of all Sets, Chewday’s, London, UK

Dana Lok, Laure Prouvost, Mia Goyette, Bianca D’Alessandro, Copenhagen, DK
Double Take, Agency / Meta Meta Meta LLC, Brooklyn, NY
Structural Underpinnings, The LeRoy Neiman Gallery, New York, NY
House of Orange, Kilroy Metal Ceiling, Brooklyn, NY
Gallery Share, Chewday’s at Off Vendome, New York, NY
In the Mix, Hometown, Brooklyn, NY
A Night Out of Town, Clima, Milan, IT
In Place Of, Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York
The Crack-Up, Room East Gallery, New York, NY
Floating Point, Judith Charles Gallery, New York, NY
Columbia MFA Thesis Exhibition, Fisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, NY
MFA First Year Show, The Wallach Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY
Networking Tips for Shy People, Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY
Crush the Serpent, The Tea Factory, Brooklyn, NY
Imperative of Teaching: Studio Pedagogy, Bergen Community College, Bergen, NJ
Other Possible Titles, Grizzly Grizzly, Philadelphia, PA
Rust Melt: New Abstractions from Pittsburgh, Fe Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA
MEGA, Carnegie Mellon Senior Art Exhibition, Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

Rema Hort Grant Nominee, Rema Hort Foundation, New York, NY
Andrew Fisher Fellowship, Columbia University, New York, NY
Three Arts Club Scholarship, Columbia University, New York, NY
Visual Arts Intraschool Scholarship, Columbia University, New York, NY
Andrew Fisher Fellowship, Columbia University, New York, NY
Three Arts Club Scholarship, Columbia University, New York, NY
Visual Arts Instraschool Scholarship, Columbia University, New York, NY
Marjory Glassburn Francis Art Award, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Ethal Kirk and Mary Murdoch Scholarship, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Wilfred Readio Art Award, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Robert J. Fingland Art Award, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Sharpe Walentas Studio Program, Brooklyn, NY
Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT

Phipps, Laura. “Dana Lok”. Cura Issue 25: 158-165. (Ill. C). Print.
“TIPS: Dana Lok at Clima Gallery, Milan”. Cura April. Web.
Bordignon, Elana. “Art Text: Dana Lok e l’ambiguità della visione”. ATP Diary 8 April. Web.
Bria, Ginevra. “La vista sullo sguardo. Dana Lok a Milano”. Artribune 18 April. Web.
New American Paintings. Issue #128, Northeast: 82-85. (Ill. C). Print.
Bogart, Aaron. “Reviews: Dana Lok at Chewday’s”. Frieze March No. 185. 176 (Ill. C). Print.
“Hurry Up on Art: Dana Lok at Chewday’s” Cactus. Print.
Moyles, Amber. “Studio Visit: Dana Lok”. The Bottom Line, Drawing Center Blog. 8 August. Web.
“Portfolio by Dana Lok”. BOMB. 23 November. Web.
“Object Lesson: Artist Project”. Interventions. Volume 4, Issue 1. Web.