Dene's interest in papermaking began in the mid-1970's, when she realized that books were being printed on paper that would not last a century. As a photographer and printmaker, paper was the foundation for her work, and she sought a more permanent material. Through research, she gained a fascination for the process of papermaking, and paper itself became the medium of her artistic expression.
You could say she is extremely enthusiastic about making paper and transfer her excitement to the students who have classes with her. In the 1990's, after a fourth grade class in
Mount Vernon, working on an Empire State Partnership Grant, two little boys came up to her, hugged her legs and said, "Thank you so much for teaching me that."
She trained art teachers for Queens District 28 at the Queens, New York Museum of Art. She also taught a graduate level course in papermaking for master's degree candidates in art education and art therapy.
Since 1979, she has been teaching workshops in papermaking and has conducted residencies in schools in NYC, Westchester County, Southern Connecticut, Rome, Italy and Athens, Greece. Each residency begins with a DVD she created: a historical overview of papermaking; the history of record keeping and writing, beginning with cave wall paintings as well as other items used by man before paper; present day papermaking; and the importance of recycling. Students, their art teachers and Dene have created murals for schools in Croton, Yonkers, Mount Vernon and more.
Papermaking, completed in a short period of time, provides an immediate sense of accomplishment and bolsters self-esteem and creative development. She teaches curriculum through the arts and also art for art's sake, believing both are vital for learning other disciplines.
"She is extremely patient, and descriptive in her teaching techniques. She is gentle and understanding with young children and I fully trust her with my students. There has NEVER been any problems with behavior management in her classes because ALL MY STUDENTS HAVE ALWAYS been engaged and excited with her projects that she presents." Gayle Sporn, Elementary Art Teacher, French American School of New York, Larchmont, NY, 2015.