The Black and White Photo Show: Dianne Kornberg

With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

The Black and White Photo Show, a group exhibition of work by Marsha Burns, Eduardo Calderón, Dianne Kornberg, Carolyn Krieg, Glenn Rudolph, and Andrew Yates (1945 – 2011) opening January 9, 2016 and continuing through February 27th.
There will be a reception for the artists on Saturday, January 9th from 2-4 pm.

Artist interview #35: Dianne Kornberg

DK 12-15

1. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?

Yes, I am now a full-time artist. I retired from teaching at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon in 2007 and my husband and I moved my studio to Obstruction Island, an outer island in the San Juans. The island has only three permanent residences, and no services. The relative isolation allows for a tremendously productive studio environment for me.

2. When did you consider yourself an artist?

“Artist” was always spelled, in my mind, with a capital “A.” Even though I was oil painting in the third grade, I was in my forties before I felt comfortable with the label.

3. What are your influences?

In a long career like mine, they are VAST! The primary influences on my work come from science and the natural world, and from an education and studio career in the visual arts. For the past several years I’ve been collaborating with poets.

4. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?

My studio is a one-room, 800 square foot building. Lighting is tungsten and florescent, there’s a skylight, and west facing windows. I have a 500K viewing station for color evaluation, and a 6 x 16 foot steel wall for hanging and viewing work.

5. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or TV in your studio?

I usually go out to the studio in the morning, break for lunch and a walk, and then return in the afternoon. There’s a rhythm to the passage of time on the island, distinguishable more by weather than by the day of the week. I mostly work at the computer, although some days I might photograph new material for a project, or do various tasks like record-keeping and other drudgeries that are part of the process. The only time I listen to the radio is when I’m doing these tasks—when I’m making work—I find it distracting. I don’t have a TV in the studio.

6. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

After almost twenty years of making silver gelatin prints, I’ve been printing digitally since 2001. I work on images in Photoshop and print with an Epson 44” inkjet printer. I usually work on one or two projects at a time.

7. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?

My process on the computer is experimental and varies dramatically depending on what I’m working on. Basically I start with film and/or digital photographs that I combine and work on in Photoshop. My work is some kind of hybrid that combines my painting, drawing and photography backgrounds. I do extensive proofing before printing finished images—that I can make the print myself is an important part of my process.

8. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?

I garden. I bake bread. I read. I watch the weather. I usually walk every day. We grow most of the vegetables we eat because a trip to the nearest store and back usually takes three or four hours. There is a wonderful library in Eastsound—we spend a lot of time reading, especially in the winter.

9) How is your process different in the studio compared to when you are out in the world?

The studio is a private place. It’s where I do most my work. Occasionally I carry a camera in the ‘world’ to get material for particular projects (most recently for “House of Stone” and What is Left”). But generally, I make my photos in the studio.

10) What is the emotional impact of the tone in your work?

It varies widely depending on the underlying concept that’s generating the piece(s). For example, “Madonna Comix” plays stylistically off comic books. In “Arachne” I created fictional specimen pages, like those found in a herbarium, so that I could incorporate the poetic text as ‘scientific notation.’ In “What is Left” (part of the grief work I’m doing with poet Elisabeth Frost), altered photographs of oyster shell mounds are desiccated and lifeless landscapes that suggest stasis, weight, a bearing down on the text written below the image.

11) In your mind, what does it mean for your work to succeed?

Looking at what I’ve done over the years, certain pieces seem to hold up especially well. Everything still ‘feels right’–they are the pieces that I don’t want to make any changes to, and that continue to engage me visually and intellectually. I consider and value interesting responses from viewers that are generated by the work.


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