Location: Steven’s Point, WI
Describe your featured work:
This piece was exhibited in the 2019 CIVA Annual Conference with the theme, “Are We There Yet?” When I was chair of the Art and Design department it was suggested that leadership was like rowing a boat: there will be people rowing with you, others just along for the ride, others drilling holes in the boat; and there will probably be others in another boat rowing in the opposite direction.
I am an assemblage artist and painter. In the early 1980’s, during my MFA program at Washington University, my primary concentration was on painting landscapes. After graduation my paintings were handled by a major Chicago gallery, who sold numerous works to public and private collectors. I am spiritually renewed through the act of painting in nature, and found viewers had similar renewal. Following the death of my mother when I was 50, I took an assemblage workshop with Michael DeMeng in southwestern Wisconsin, and discovered a whole different approach to creating art. With the assemblage art, which I create with epoxy clay, toys, wood, fabric and then layer with acrylic paint, I am able to reach a new audience. With these humorously-darker and playfully-sinister pieces, one is able to recognize the lighter moments (through the contrast), encompassing a more complex human experience.
What are you making now?
Two years ago, I retired to concentrate on art full-time. This year with the pandemic, I found a need to translate this historic experience visually. I believe that through the use of toys and other discarded items, I have found a voice to articulate my feelings about the pandemic. In the pandemic series, I am working with discarded dinosaur toys to capture some of the fleeting moments in time that change everything. I have also created several hands-on art workshops in connection to the pandemic that enable participants to process the anxiety of coping with the Coronavirus, which I hope to incorporate together in exhibitions. This week, I began a seven foot assemblage piece, a “key” piece to be included in this exhibition.
I belong to CIVA because…
I belong to CIVA because I want to find a group of artists that have shared beliefs: a love of art and creating, with a spiritual connection. I believe my talent and the opportunities I have had over the years are gifts, and I have a need to use these gifts and opportunities to affect the world in a positive way. I was raised in a conservative Christian denomination that did not embrace women as ministers or contemporary artists. In college I turned my concentration to developing my art, which I strongly felt was a gift from God. As I matured, I realized I needed to find a place that embraced faith, women as leaders, and contemporary artists. CIVA certainly does that in a broad sense.
Diane Canfield Bywaters is an award-winning artist creating paintings and assemblage art. She is a Professor Emerita from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she taught drawing and painting. She has the honor of being selected to more artist-in-residencies in the U.S. National Park artist-in-residency program than any other artist for her large-scale en plein air landscape paintings. She has an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, and a BFA from the University of Kansas in painting. Her artwork is in numerous collections including Pepsi Corporation, the State Department, and United Airlines.