From Joan Diamond’s studio in Maplewood, NJ (USA) sculptural forms and wall hangings are fabricated using the palettes of natural or synthetic dyes, the effects of stitch and relief, of transparency, and of mixed media.
Through art she examines matters that intrigue her: private moments, a play of shadows, political tempers, or poetry.
Joan Diamond’s road as a maker began with clay. She created sculptures; mixed media jewelry; and some functional wares with a variety of clays and firing methods for twenty years. The artist now works principally in fiber, with a nod to her clay roots through stitched clay mono-prints. Ms. Diamond’s surface designed art is rich with techniques drawn from dyer’s and art quilter’s vocabularies, using dye and expressive stitch on a variety of fabrics. She also employs the Korean Bojagi stitching technique in her more conceptually based translucent pieces.
Ms. Diamond grew up on the north shore of Long Island, NY with equal access to beaches, woods, mundane sprawl of housing development, and to New York City. Her formative years embraced all these environments fluidly and as a result today she is comfortable with country and cityscape alike. Her work reflects both organic and structured forms. Today Ms. Diamond’s studio is in a suburb different from her childhood, but also one which affords her ready access to natural and wild environs and the Big Apple alike.
Joan Diamond comes to the fiber world without formal introduction: no knowledgeable grandmother or mother to pass along sewing skills, no university training in textiles. She enjoys the freedom to experiment and learn. Ms. Diamond is happy to have a place in the continuum of artists who have preceded her and those who are yet to come.
Read Joan’s interview.
At the moment, I work mostly with cloth. The surface is manipulated using dye, a myriad of print and resist techniques, and with stitch. The resultant image you view is rendered through a gradual building of pattern: layer upon layer of dye, each informing the next, is built up. Dying is a time-consuming, thoughtful process. It is not uncommon to have 20-ish + layers of dyed pattern in a piece. This work is spontaneous: the flow of the dye, the happy accidents along the way which must be finessed, color and scale choices are all part of the magic. Often there is no pre-conceived outcome at the start of this work. I trust the fluidity that comes with attention and interaction with my materials, and I let the process inform my decisions. I work with abstraction. Shape. Line. Texture. Color. These are the elements I find inviting and intriguing. I believe in infinite possibility, and when I work in the studio I have this feeling and it motivates me.
Cloth can also be transparent, such as a gauze or silk organza. When I work with cloth because of its transparent nature there is a conceptual base for the piece. The use of transparency in and of itself as a vehicle for comment relative to the “theme” of the work is of interest to me. There is little that is spontaneous about this body of work. This work is usually pre-conceived almost in its entirety well before construction is ever begun.
The clay mono-prints are made by creating a clay “plate” onto which liquid clay is colored and laid down in multiple layers until a satisfactory image is made. An industrial fabric product is the “paper” onto which a chosen image is transferred. The transfer is accomplished through burnishing. Stitching brings an elusive quality to the surface of a piece. Somehow, layer upon layer of built-up pattern, whether that be of clay or dye, is brought together with expressive stitch.
Art demands from the practitioner fluidity, flexibility, and adaptability, and yet, a certain stubbornness too. Daily practice in the studio strengthens these core ethics. Belief in my path, overseas travel, and workshops inform my fiber work today. To satisfy my curiosity and dreams through art-making my goals in the studio are to have fun, to embrace the uncertainty that comes while working with grace, and of course, to grow as an artist.