Diane Katsiaficas | Click on image for more details
Artist’s Statement One of the themes in my work centers on home and migration. To begin this piece, I first looked to the essays, poems, and statements that had been written for the first “Home Sweet Home” exhibition. I read them first on-line and then printed them out and kept the printouts close by. I was touched by the sincerity and honesty of each one and the strong visual images they elicited.
Then I went into my studio and began to draw. The Family Housing Fund had asked me to create a larger piece than I usually do. I’ve not worked on this scale in a long time, but the ‘bigness’ of the narrative and multitude of components led me to abut two sheets of 22- by 30-inch Lana watercolor paper (a strong acid-free cotton paper) to make a 30- by 44-inch sheet. I like the idea that one plus one equals three. Each drawing can hold its own, but together they make a third one.
Next, I laid down a patchwork of bright colors in harder oil pastels. I kept track of the colors I used by making a mark at the bottom of the pages, and block by block the community grew. Then I covered the quilt of colors with a softer black oil pastel to create a field I could scratch through to the colors below. (As a pigment, black is the presence of all hues.) What lay in front of me was an old-fashioned scratchboard—like the ones we had in elementary school—filled with the promise of discovery as each mark clears the surface.
As I sgraffitoed, the narrative emerged: A community of houses at the perimeter of a big field. In their circular encampment, they defy gravity. Houses with at least two doors. A blue bedroom for one, with a light and books. A big porch. A big yard. Windows that swing open. Flowers around the house. A round table set for four. Pots and pans. A clothesline filled with clothes. A girl in a tree writing in a journal, another youngster riding the handlebars of a bike. Flying a kite. Balloons. Birds. A mother tending to her children in the shelter of a tree in the shelter of a house. A sun/compass pointing the drawing south. An infinity sign. Specific images that together create a wealthy ambiguity which allows for multiple readings and unending metaphors.
This drawing fills me with joy. In creating it, I am indebted to Kristin Ellertson, Anna Mileyev, Michael LaDoucer, Gemma Kirby, Sarah Schuster, Danita Walker, Shirley Jenkins, Heidi Fuhr, Leesa Applebee, Fulisha Fulmer-Kalanges, and Jennifer Lee for their keen perceptions.