Freddie Dessau
Artist Bio

Currently residing in the Bronx, New York, Freddie Dessau is a New York native, Army Veteran, and world traveler. He is a former Geospatial Information Officer, having created and produced numerous maps, graphics and Tactical Decision Aids during seven separate combat deployments ranging from Haiti to Iraq. Freddie has conducted several cartographic workshops, been featured in a number of shows internationally as well as in New York City, and has won several awards for his artwork. In 2017 he was commissioned to create the cover art for the novel, Emblements. A graduate of UCLA’s Fine Art program, Freddie returned to art studies and an active art practice after a 35-year hiatus. Today, his ongoing interests include walking as an art practice, writing and cinema. He is a member of the Veterans Art Movement and Frontline Arts. The storytelling in his artwork often obscures the distinction between art and literature and draws heavily on his experience as a gay man in the United States military. An avid writer, his work has been published in riverSedge, A Journal of Art & Literature as well as Infantry Magazine.

Hiding in Plain Sight, 2017, inkjet print on paper, 30 x 40

Artist Statement

For 19 years I served in the US military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The act prohibited the disclosing of one’s sexual orientation and was predicated on the notion that identity was based on verbalizing It. I served honorably and with distinction, yet my daily life was both a charade and a silent performance. Now I use text to express with clarity a multitude of instances of my lived experience as a gay man in the military. I investigate through paper-based works, including vignettes, comics and posters, the connection between words and identity. Through different mediums I investigate my memories, my interests, and obsessions: storytelling, queerness, and military service. Encompassing collage, photography, performance, installation, and drawing I consider my art practice highly personal and autobiographical, a direct record informed by my lived experience. Recent work reduces the materiality to bond paper and inkjet prints. In creating each vignette, a logic is applied: a staccato of short sentences avoiding compound phrases. The works obscure the distinction between art and literature. Although I seek truth in my storytelling, I still savor the beautiful deceit of a painted movie backdrop. My work then questions a comforting dishonesty when appearances serve a convenient necessity.