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Q&A with Artist Diane Blackwell

The Washington Football by Diane Blackwell was awarded the Monkith Saaid Award.
The Washington Football by Diane Blackwell was awarded the Monkith Saaid Award.

In this year’s sculpture exhibit, the Monkith Saaid Award for best in show went to Diane Blackwell, a multidisciplinary artist. Juror Rosemary Luckett chose the unassuming fiber sculpture The Washington Football for the award, citing its use of color, shape, and multilayered tone.

The artist told us more about the sculpture in this Q&A:

What was your goal with this piece?
Diane Blackwell: A common theme in my work is to compare and contrast personal experiences to introduce a new understanding. With all this talk about inertia in Washington both on the political and sports playing fields, I thought I’d follow their lead and punt. The colloquialism got me thinking that the ball deserved a closer review.

What’s your creative process like?
I start with an assumption, an activity that’s been on auto-pilot, or current cultural events that need further review and question why they catch my attention.

As both a painter and a sculptor, what role do the materials you use play in your work? Do you have a favorite medium to work in?
Since I begin with a concept, I find the delivery system that is easiest to apply — sometimes it is two dimensional (acrylic, transfers, photography), other times it is construction.

The Washington Football (detail)
The Washington Football (detail)

Does the sculpture have a specific statement to make about the Washington football team’s name?
The name of the Washington football team is a racial slur. Legal activity has begun to remove the name which respondents in recent polls and surveys find offensive. It is inexcusable for the team’s owner to continue his defense of the name. Rather than take the ball and run with it by changing the name and moving forward, he has chosen to deface the reputation of the team while punting the ball through the courts.

How did you arrive at this particular shape?
I wanted an irregular shape similar to a football. I can sew. The contrast between a domestic skill and a public sports object became intriguing. After doing a maquette in foamcore, I mapped out the gouged surfaces into flat planes, sewed it together to include lacing, and signed my initials with a chain stitch.

What are you working on now?
2D: combining Warhol and Duchamp.

3D: I have some paper based materials and am waiting for the concept to crystallize.

Happy, acrylic, by Diane Blackwell. From April's “Pop Art” exhibit.
Happy, acrylic, by Diane Blackwell. From April’s “Pop Art” exhibit.

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