above: Diane Giardi, “Release”, stoneware & oxides, pit-fired
The loss of a beloved grandmother, father and then my young husband of 38, brought my art to its focus on spirit and the concept of the physical body as primarily the shell/wrapping for the soul. As a ceramist in graduate school, the stoneware sculptures I created appeared almost as layered, peeling armatures left behind. The clay bodies, heavily textured and pit-fired, were singed in large brick kilns constructed by hand, outdoors, and filled with wood, sawdust and oxides. With daily firings, I believe I spent three years smelling like I just came from a barbecue, wherever I went. Working in handmade fiber as well, as in “Winged Amaranth”, these lighter structures of abaca, cotton, and seagrass, seem to be lifted upward as if just releasing the energy within.
Enjoying the texture, translucency and opaque qualities of another medium-encaustics, I spent a great deal of time exploring and creating works that were layered and often combined with other materials. In “Text Memories”, a largescale work, 6 ft. x 5 ft. 6” x 1.5”, I sewed 12 encaustic squares on canvas that contained circles with the repetition of names of important people in my life.
Writing in script each name 200 times in the circle created a particular textural surface. The writing itself was a contemplation/meditation on that person and my feelings for them.
Working as a hospice volunteer for over 20 years has given me experience knowing others, aside from loved ones, through the dying process, and their loved ones, through the grief process. I have witnessed the joy that can also be alive along with the sorrow – the connection and appreciation of all that is still there throughout and until the end.
Living with full awareness of death is important to me, as in the biblical line “Remember man that you are dust and onto dust you shall return”. And to be ready, as Ram Dass narrates so beautifully, “I’ve learned to relax my hold on this body, to rest in life – as a wonderful Saint put it – like a bird resting on a dry branch, ready to fly away.”
My new work deals with light and its’ reflections, often on everyday objects. Streaming sun and its’ shadows creates sculptures and imagery that draws me into its’ focusing ability and ethereal qualities. I am now chasing the light and continuing to explore.
“Even in Death Mobility”
(New York Times Headline, Oct. 25th, 2011)
Even in death there is movement.
The soul kayaks out,
spirit climbs the Stairmaster,
perception, reception, bungee-jumps,
senses dance, a final drum song.
Even in death, action
Forces transpire, take hold, transform,
The heart still stirring,
brain still carrying
remains of vitality,
now transmitting, dematerializing,
a sacred, intangible world.
Even in death
(from a series of poems I wrote, inspired by New York Times