Things That Kill- Dianne Kornberg


Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #35 Part 2: Dianne Kornberg

Kornberg Studio

1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
“Madonna Bomb 2” is the second in a series of four pieces that are a response to a poem by Celia Bland. The poem describes a suicide bombing, while referring metaphorically, in the context of the project as a whole, to the “bomb” of childbirth and parenting. It is one of twenty-six images that make up the exhibition and book titled Madonna Comix.

The stylistic elements I employed for this series are unique in my work–I developed them for this particular image/text project.

The subject matter–a pregnant woman wearing a suicide vest, plus the included poetic and comic text, is loaded content, at the very least the shock of a woman surfacing as a militant combatant in a religious cause, a jihad. For me there is an equivalency between the content and the “art” and I believe the art holds its own. But you will decide for yourself if the piece is “front-loaded.”

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
The project began when Celia sent me a selection of poems about the Madonna. I found that they addressed a range of ideas: the physicality of childbearing, self-sacrifice and suffering, ecstasy and adoration. They spoke of fears and choices and of things we take on faith. They spoke to multiple experiences of being a woman.

I considered the “smart-alecky” nature of some of the poetic text. I decided to scan Lulu comic book pages, and partially erase the images to serve as the surface on which to work. The proto-feminist “Little Lulu” comic books were empowering to me as a girl in the 1950’s because Lulu stepped outside gender roles–she went her own way, had opinions, out-witted the boys. I allowed some of the Lulu text to show through to serve as a “down to earth” commentary on Bland’s lyric language. My working process was very experimental. I utilized skills from my background in painting, printmaking, and photography. In addition to the figure, I included in the image the pentimento comic book page, a map of Jerusalem, a selection of text from the poem, and text from Little Lulu.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work in “Things that Kill”?
When I began working with the poem “Madonna Bomb” I went on-line to learn about suicide bombers. I came across a picture of a 15 year old girl hand-cuffed to a chain-link fence, wearing a suicide vest. At the time I did not realize that girls were being used as suicide bombers. The Lulu text included in Madonna Bomb 4 reads, “A little girl! WHAT?”

Madonna Bomb 1

“Madonna Bomb 1”, 2012, archival pigment print

Madonna Bomb 2 copy

“Madonna Bomb 2″, 2012, archival pigment print, 31″ x 20” image, 32.5 x 21.5” framed (included in “Things That Kill”)

Madonna Bomb 3

“Madonna Bomb 3”, 2012, archival pigment print

Madonna Bomb 4 copy

“Madonna Bomb 4”, 2012, archival pigment print

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.