Kenyon College

Telephone Cocoons


Artist: Dorothy Dennison
Title of Work: Telephone Cocoons
Year: Date unknown
Dimensions: 32″ x 48″
Material: Oil on board
Photo Line: Canton Museum of Art
Collection Credit: Gift from the Artist, Canton Museum of Art

Ominous and melancholy, “Telephone Cocoons” is a literal illustration of the tension between industry and nature in contemporary rural life. The controlled lines and loops of the wire contrast with the grass’ undefined movement; geometric buildings in the distance are at odds with sloping hills. The only straight lines in the painting are manufactured, as are the tents providing the telephone poles protection from the impending storm.
Though in-depth information about Dennison’s career is scant, her work is known for its balance of strong graphics and structural accuracy, and an emphasis is put on her childhood spent in rural Pennsylvania. The somber tones of the piece and the spectral white cloths imply a sense of mourning for the destruction of nature and, perhaps, Dennison’s own youth.
The painting’s focal point is the lone traffic light, signaling the arrival of technology and a need for governmental regulations. The light glows forever red, an open plea to reflect on the irreparable consequences of violating the sacredness of nature.

–Maddy Foley ’13, Gund Gallery Associate