Diane is friends with lots of fiber people, but I haven’t yet had the pleasure of spending time in her world. Clearly talented and a kindred spirit (she plays with fiber in lots of forms), I hope that the quiet winter months throw us together at least a couple of times. In addition to being a working farmer, Diane is the Museum Director of The Rufus Porter Museum and Cultural Heritage Center in Bridgton ME. She’ll be teaching Hawaiian Quilt Applique on Friday at Fiber College.
When we finally caught up with her, she answered the interview questions like this:
1. The unauthorized biography of your life is titled: Out of the Shadows and Into the Light
2. If forced to choose, would you be an eraser or a permanent magic marker? As an eraser, I leave a faintest imprint on those I encounter. I love to see where this leads. Inform, encourage, support, and then stand back and let individuality and creativity take over. The results are always rewarding.
3. Do you live with any animals? I own a small fiber farm with finnsheep, angora goats, angora rabbits, Border Collies, cats, and a few chickens. It is this environment where I can observe beauty and find peace.
4. What are you currently reading? The Botany of Desire, it explores our manipulation of plants, and their manipulation of us.
5. What is the most surprising response to your art you have ever received? A slight Japanese woman came up to me in a quilting group in Hawaii, commenting that the quilt I was working on was beautiful and spiritual. She and her friend asked if they could rub my head for luck, hoping to capture some of my aura.
6. What do you listen to while you create? Quiet… leaves rustling, roosters crowing, sheep in the field, rain tapping on the roof…
7. Why do you (knit, quilt, spin, carve, design…)? What is your purpose? I need to stay busy, even during ‘down time.’ Spinning, quilting, knitting, weaving, and photography let me ‘be’ in the moment, where the world is quiet and peaceful, no worries, no bills, no rushing to be somewhere else.
8. Looking back, knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently? I first saw a working loom at the age of 16, but did not warp one until age 45. Made my first quilt at 18, my corners did not meet. Spun my yarn at 34, wove baskets to hold the yarn. Knit my first socks at 36, cuffs stretched and heels wore out. It has taken many, many years and gone down many, many roads to get where I am now, artistically. While my life experiences have definitely influenced my art; I wish I could have followed my artistic paths much sooner and more fully (while I could still thread a quilting needle, and before my bones hurt.)
9. A lot of artists want to be famous, and some just want to make a living doing what they love. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I will be supporting and enabling others to discover and explore traditional arts through exposure, encouragement, and access to a variety of artists, teachers, and exhibits.
10. If you could give advice to anyone aspiring to work with fibers, what would it be?
I would advise anyone who is trying something new to flow with the exuberance and surprise of learning a new medium. There will come a time for perfection later, if you want. Learning is the time to learn, have fun, be creative, make mistakes, drop the spindle, bleed on the quilt… enjoy this time without pressure, and laugh at yourself.