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Debra Disman: I Can’t I Won’t I Will I Do

January 28 - March 26, 2023

This exhibition has been extended in honor of Women's History Month


About the Exhibition:

I Can’t I Won’t I Will I Do is a solo exhibition featuring Los Angeles-based artist Debra Disman. Disman’s work is inspired by books, which traverses tapestry, installation, and sculpture to push familiar forms and materials into art that bewilders. The exhibition includes new works created in response to Disman’s investigation of artists Charlotte Salomon and Eva Hesse and how they employed the creative process to transform traumatic pasts into the creation of new art forms. Disman’s tactile works create space for reflection, connection, and solace.

About the Artist:

Debra Disman is a Los Angeles-based artist known for her work inspired by books, both as a solo practitioner and in the public sphere of community engagement. As a maker and teaching artist, she creates work and projects that push the book's body and boundaries into new media and materials, inviting altered ways of viewing the world and how we inhabit it.

Her work is shown in multiple museums, galleries, universities, and libraries. Disman is the recipient of a 2016-17 WORD: Artist Grant / Bruce Geller Memorial Prize and was a Studio Resident at the Camera Obscura Art Lab in Santa Monica in 2018. Disman is a local Artist-In-Residence at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica and a 2021-22 Santa Monica Artist Fellow.

Accompanying Publication: ReflectSpace published an artist book by Disman titled “Concurrencies: Charlotte Salomon and Eva Hesse: Genius, Trauma and Creative Imagination.” The artist book grew out of Disman’s research and is an intuitive and fleeting reflection on the lives, works, and imaginations of Salomon and Hesse. This book is free to the public and available at ReflectSpace while supplies last.

Excerpt from "Concurrencies":

My research was based on their shared experience of trauma and loss through the Jewish Holocaust, their remarkably similar family traumas (both lost their mothers to suicide as children), and most centrally, their invention of new forms of visual art through which I posit they attempt to cope with these traumas.

In addition to their early deaths, each had a powerful emotional involvement with a charismatic male-identifying artist who proved to be influential, even pivotal in the development of their work

and artistic breakthroughs.

The project revolves around several themes: being a woman-identified artist, being a Jewish women artist, being an artist during a profoundly turbulent time in history, incalculable family loss, the relationship between internal and external turbulence and the creative act, and the transformative power of the creative process. Charlotte and Eva show us how to celebrate the triumph of the imagination above and beyond the triumph of the will.

On a broader scale, the project examines ways in which the creative process can transform and potentially transcend traumatic experience, and how trauma can, however painfully, elicit the creation of new, generative artistic forms, processes, media and voices. Through these two geniuses, separated by a single generation and united by personal and historical circumstances, we can see how the creative imagination can continue to reverberate throughout time, influencing and inspiring new generations of creators.

Sourced over years of research into Charlotte and Eva, this artist book has allowed me the opportunity to expand, deepen, formalize and concretize my ongoing exploration of their lives and work through collected and paired images. It has enabled me to offer a view into the extraordinary creative means by which they responded to overwhelming historical, political,

familial and psychological trauma, as well as the ways these traumas and their artistic responses are concurrent and intertwined.

-Debra Disman

Accompanying Programming:

Disman will also conduct workshops at Central Library at the Be the Change Book Festival on Saturday, February 25, from 10am - 4pm, and work with the local community to create handmade books designed to engage the hands, heart, mind, and soul.

ReflectSpace Gallery

Glendale Central Library

222 East Harvard Street

Glendale, CA 91205


Mondays-Thursdays, 9am - 9pm

Fridays & Saturdays, 9am - 6pm

Sunday, 1pm - 6pm



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