Dismas, or "DiZ," as his friends call him, was born and raised in Chicagos Bucktown neighborhood. Together with his brother Rico, Rottas childhood was spent scouring the factory lots for scraps from which to make life-size interiors of tanks and submarines. If the young artist could not find a certain part, he drew it to complete his earliest "installations" in the family basement.
Having bypassed formal art training in high school and college, Rotta experienced his first artistic epiphany when he encountered "readymades" in a Marcel Duchamp show at the Art Institute of Chicago. Upon entering monastic life at twenty-one, "Brother Dismas Dominic FSC," expanded his exploration of self to include painting and sculpture. Those years gave his inner being substance, the ability to handle solitude, and an everlasting persistence in overcoming obstaclesfactors that served him as a teacher and ultimately an artist.
Rottas passion for redeeming cast-away objects began with teaching inner city kids considered "lost" by the school systems of Memphis and Chicago. He taught photography, drawing, painting, and commercial art to young people who, like himself, were "outcasts."
In his early works, Rotta used the simple materials of cardboard and rosin paper with themes based on Japanese folklore and the Floating World of ukiyo-e prints. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and completed a Masters in Visual Design & Photography at Illinois Institute of Technology. He received summer fellowships to Ox-Bow, Skidmore College, New York University, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center at Snowmass, Colorado.
The year 2000 brought DiZ back to Boulder, Colorado. He volunteered at BMoCA as an educational coordinator and continued his teaching with a summer class at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. The change in his environment also produced a shift in work. Rottas process of layering language and image naturally evolved into printmaking.
Ultimately, Rotta is a cartographer of thoughts. His recent mono and intaglio prints map out the territory between perceiving and deciphering, unknown codes and ancient instructions, intercultural signage and forgotten alphabets. Through "readymade" alchemy, he transforms "junk" found in the streets into mysterious labyrinths through which the viewers mind can wander.
Sonya Shannon, CU Fine Arts