Denise Stewart-Sanabria

The absurdity of “beautifying” food through cosmetic treatments is the central theme of an exhibit of works by Denise Stewart-Sanabria.

Key limes dripping with hot pink nail polish and cherries swimming in puddles of iridescent green never looked so good—or so inedible. Erotic, subversive, humorous, these paintings excite the imagination.

“I specifically do not label my work as ‘still lifes’ which I consider an archaic and inaccurate term for what I am creating. Still lifes have traditionally been genre paintings of domestic items and food, often with symbolic references attached to them connected with life, death, and survival. What I am doing is pure observation—how the eye perceives my subjects in all their beauty as light hits them, intensifying the color saturation. ... I am also interested in their ability to create complicated abstract compositions when combined in groups or scattered across the picture plane.”


Denise Stewart-Sanabria was born in Massachusetts and received her BFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. She has lived in Knoxville, TN since 1986.


Stewart-Sanabria paints both hyper-realist “portraits” of everything from produce to subversive jelly donuts. The anthropomorphic narratives often are reflections on human behavior.  She is also known for her life size charcoal portrait drawings on plywood, which are cut out, mounted on wood bases, and staged in installations.


Recent exhibits include: ContinuńĀre: The Figurative Tradition in Contemporary Art at Ewing Gallery at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the 55th Mid-States Art Exhibition, Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, IN, In the Flesh, Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA, The 26th Tallahassee International, at the Florida State Museum of Fine Arts, 2012 Red Clay Survey at the Huntsville Museum of Art, 2012: Contemporary Realism Biennial at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, American Art Today:Figures, at The Bascom, Highlands, NC, and "From These Hills: Contemporary Art in the Southern Appalachian Highlands", at the William King Museum, Abingdon, VA, 2013.



Salisbury University Exhibit
American Art Collector Feature 2013
An attraction to simple objects