Originally Published,
March 2000
Online Mercury
Deena des Rioux: High Tech Messenger 
Interview by Michael R. Evans

The old and new mix it up at the Hockaday Fine Arts Museum
302 2nd Ave. East in Kalispell, Montana. The former Carnegie Library building (pictured from the outside) is currently hosting Deena des Rioux’s travelling exhibit of computer- generated portraits.
There's also “traditional” items from the permanent collection, and “mythological” graphics by Michael C. Spafford plus stoneware pottery by Robert Markle. “The Hockaday” is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 to 5 (8 PM on Wed.and Fri.) plus free admission on Wednesdays.

 “This thing with digital photos is a hands-off medium,” says Deena des Rioux from her home in New York City.

The Hockaday Fine Arts Museum, south of the Kalispell Public Library, is showing a collection of her large computer-generated images called “Robot Portraiture which runs until May 27, 2000.

Ms. Des Rioux (pronounced: day-ree-YOU) will visit Kalispell for a special reception on May 5. 
I used to be a painter, with acrylics.” she says, “I would set up the canvas using Liquitex medium, then I’d paint over the cross-hatching!” 
 She laughs about the contrast between her tactile early work and the machine-fine smoothness of her present work. “I started this digital stuff in 1989” she continues, “I used to physically cut things up, and build layers.  You HAD to use a scanner in those days!” 
“For the last four or five years, she adds, I’ve been able to cut and paste using the computer only – there’s no hands-on cutting.” Deena still has her own Canon copier. “For black and white sketches,” 
"My current working method uses a scanner, a PC computer, and the Photoshop 5.5 program to manipulate the scanned-in camera-based visual items." she says, "The photographic output is lab-processed from CD files." She also states,"Its not visitor-friendly at the lab. I rarely go there."
The Hockaday exhibit exemplifies tension between ‘old’ and ‘new’ aesthetics. The  turn-of-the century building, with its hardwood floors and oaken trim, has a squared-circular layout under it’s old domed roof. As the viewer spirals around the museum, images inspired by ancient Greece, lithos of Missouri River headwaters, and a bronze statuette of a Native American mix together with two rooms devoted to colorful graphics of “future humans,” integrated with electronic circuitry, wires, and mechanics. 
An androgynous, bald-headed humanoid/disk drive hybridized creature gazes at the gallery-stroller. The title card reads “Esther: Bionic Punk.”  

“Oh Esther – she’s a friend of mine!” says des Rioux, (as if knowing cyborgs was a common occurance) “Do you want to know her last name? Grillo -- Esther Grillo, she does futuristic, tortured sculpture! (It’s not surprising to know that Esther is all-human, after all.) “I did that portrait from my head, and showed it to her in New York when it was first exhibited. I took a picture of her standing next to it! She was really pleased.” 

“All my life I wanted to do science-fiction,” Deena emphatically states, “My work is all over it, and about it! When I was a little girl I read the Boston Globe, and this article in “Parade Magazine” about the fading and extinction of our sun. It kind of scared me -- but it also had these PICTURES showing future humans, with no hair and toes and things! We know now that it would take intervention to do this.” 
Both of her parents were New England landscape artists, Sam and Sophina G. Coty. They ran their own gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts. Deena grew up studying the fine arts, going to the Rhode Island School of Design, and Le Sorbonne in Paris, France. (Where she met her husband, Philippe.) 
“My influences were still “The Twilight Zone,” Ray Bradbury, the “Time Machine” movie, and a book by Ayn Rand called “Anthem,” says des Rioux. 
“Silicon Ingot” more than any other of my pieces, is about being a precursor to our genetic intervention. (It’s also the largest picture in the show.) The Asian imagery I sometimes use is a deliberate reference to high-tech themes, but we’re all in it together!  'Wafer-Scale Integration' utilizes African decorative arts, as well as being a portrait of an African person." 
She’s currently expanding her imagery by putting whole figures and machinery together. “They’re more ‘covert,’ The portraits were obviously about faces.” des Rioux says, “The new pieces have more emphasis on the equality of the components and the human element – they’re so matched, they become one. 
 “I see myself as some kind of messenger – to intervene to make things that propel more to discovery and creativity, and eliminate divisiveness by combining high-tech with the human.” Deena says, “A mode where the world can accept this kind of change.” 
She’s looking forward to her visit on the first Friday in May, and expresses excitement about meeting the students from FVCC. “Community colleges are surprising.” she says, “They cut right through it. At Nassau Community College I saw everybody from kids, to people in their eighties. Life is EVERYBODY! Its not real life if the only people you meet are in your own age group.” 
“At the Hockaday, I’ll be ‘wired for sound,’ and be walking around, connecting with people as they come in, but everyone will be able to hear me.

Deena welcomes email: artpixel@hotmail.com