From my early training as a sculptor and welder, I have been guided by the dynamics of form. In my paintings, form emerges from color as I apply thousands of translucent layers of watercolor paint. I put red over blue, blue over red, sometimes yellow over everything all the while looking through the painting as through a sheet of glass until I sense something holding still and expectant/ready in the piece. Colors naturally hold symbolism for me, and I have painted in response to images from poems I find mysterious, feelings roused by music, that familiar experience Wallace Stevens calls “passions in rain, or moods in falling snow,” and even meditations on thoughts. The paintings from my Works series have offered me an especially resonant field for such explorations. At the same time, I do not think simply in terms of color, but through color. As the divergent layers of paint multiply, they move beyond the visual and symbolic, challenging me by slipping along the color wheel and deepening into a widening pool of still light under my brush.
Light is the principle behind my Folding Panel sculptures as well. These free standing sculptures are made of wood and sheet metal whose flat surfaces stand at angles to each other. Light moves along the subtle scratches of polished metal and reflect within the theater of the piece. I envision some of them, built on a larger scale, as actual fountains along whose surfaces thin sheets of water might run.
By training myself to see flat surfaces as energetic space, I have worked to realize and share the invisible distances that are often crowded out in our increasingly efficient, light-saturated, and networked lives. The flat surface in art has not, however, stopped being a mystery, and I hope to continue working my way towards it and bring viewers into its strange and irresistible reaches.
1956 - 2019
Diane Szczepaniak was a vibrant force in the visual arts community and a cherished member of InLiquid since 2004. In addition to producing art herself, Diane was deeply engaged in teaching, earning her MA in Art Education from the University of Cincinnati in 1983 and serving as an instructor at various institutions in Cincinnati OH, Evanston IL, and Potomac MD. She also presented annual workshops for the Graduate Student Center at Harvard University and was an active board member of the Washington Sculptors Group.
Diane worked in a variety of mediums. Her early training as a sculptor and welder gave her an intuitive understanding of the dynamics of form. In her paintings, form emerged from her exploration of watercolor layering. These works were often inspired by the emotions roused by poetry, music, and meditation. However, through the thousands of layers of paint, something deeper is conveyed, something beyond the visual or even the symbolic.
In Diane’s sculpture work, light is the guiding principle. Her glass sculptures, displayed in Chance Encounters at Park Towne Place shortly before her passing in 2019, show a natural curiosity towards the interplay of light and color. Diane took translucent sheets of glass and layered them to create dynamic assemblies of shades, shapes, and shadows, adding new dimensions to seemingly simple flat surfaces.
This fascination with light is also seen in Diane’s Folding Panel series. The free-standing sculptures are composed of wood and sheet metal, full of rectangular shapes and right angles, evoking the aesthetics of carpentry or stage design. But the way light dances through each piece, reflecting from one metallic surface to another, creates an ethereal ambience and a unique sense of perpetuity.
Diane had a keen eye for the in-betweens and the hidden. In her artist statement, she stated: “By training myself to see flat surfaces as energetic space, I have worked to realize and share the invisible distances that are often crowded out in our increasingly efficient, light-saturated, and networked lives.” This singular perspective is evident in Diane’s remarkable body of work.
A reception was held to honor the life of Diane Szczepaniak on Friday, November 8, 2020 at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Rockville, MD. Diane’s passion for her work carried through to the final stages of her life. As she entered hospice care, Diane continued working on a project through the VisArts Bresler Residency. Despite her circumstances, she strove to complete her proposed work with the assistance of friends and family, resulting in an extraordinary sculptural relief titled Flipping Panels Falling Like Water. As with the art she produced throughout her incredible life, the work is attentive and insightful, inviting the viewer to follow the movement of light and shadow down a mesmerizing matrix of angled, wooden surfaces.
Diane was a committed, passionate, and generous artist. She will be missed by the InLiquid community, and both she and her family are in our thoughts.
1983 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH MA, Art Education
1981 Northern Kentucky University BFA, Sculpture and Drawing
Northern Kentucky Vocational/Technical School Welding Certification
1978 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI BA, Economics
1978 – 1982 Michael Skop, (Ivan Mestrovic’s assistant), Kentucky, Sculpture and drawing studio of sculptor
Awards & Honors
2011 Semi-Finalist, Sondheim Prize, Baltimore, MD
2009 Individual Artist Award in Visual Arts: Sculpture from the Maryland State Arts Council, Baltimore, MD
2005 Semi-Finalist for the Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards, Bethesda, MD
2001 Ulric Bell Memorial Award, New York, NY
Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Annual, Philadelphia, PA
1999 Judges Choice Award, Maryland Federation of Art Gallery on the Circle, Annapolis, MD
1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 Paintings Under Glass Award, Bruce Museum Art Festival, Greenwich, CT
1997 Best in Show Award, Arts Atlantica Exposition, Ocean City, MD
2008 Baltimore CityBeat, Baltimore, MD, May 28, 2008
2005 Art Papers, Reviews, pg 46, July/August 2005
Style Weekly, Richmond, VA, April 27, 2005
2002 City Beat, Cincinnati, OH, October 11, 2002
2001 The Villager, New York, NY, May 23, 2001
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH Americans for the Arts, Washington, DC St. Mary's College, St. Mary's City, MD Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Washington, DC New York Grand Hyatt, New York, NY Orlando Hilton, Orlando, FL Ritz Carlton, Dubai Crystal City Hilton, Arlington, VA San Diego Marriott Marina, San Diego, CA MGM Project City Center, Los Angeles, CA DC Four Seasons, Washington, DC
Youngblood Fine Art, Sag Harbor, NY Soho Myriad, Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; London, UK Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia, PA Inliquid, Philadlephia, PA Washington Sculptor’s Group, Washington, DC Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, DC
2011 – present Member, Board of Directors, Washington Sculptor’s Group