Circle of Compassion DETAIL 60" x 48" oil/wood 2017
Excerpt from foreword: Lucy R. Lippard
Diane Marsh’s paintings, many of them self-portraits, convey a consistent and inconsolable anguish, as well as a parallel transformation. They are more than portraits. The emotional depth, or density, of her art is unfamiliar and disturbing. The viewer is almost an intruder, privileged and perhaps reluctant to share the pain. Yet despite the specificity of every subject, Marsh reaches for the portrayal of a broader humanity, psychological experiences that we can recognize and identify with. Although a muted sorrow continues to pervade the paintings to this day, hope hovers too.
The time taken for each meticulously realist work (Marsh completes only two or three paintings a year) is an integral element of the work, woven almost visibly into the content. Although landscape is always in the background it is rendered with such loving detail that it plays a significant role, another layer of portrait—portraits of a place, of New Mexico, of Abiquiu and Roswell, where vast and very different spaces literally offer new horizons, new possibilities. The notion of place as a spiritual antidote, nature as a sanctuary, is familiar in the ancient cultures of the southwest, in its art and its continuous allure for those of us from elsewhere. Sorrow is not denied, but acknowledged and transcended by earth, water, sky. In a sense Marsh’s work is a plea for understanding, a personal and unifying need or desire that is offered to the viewer as a gift.
MUSEUM OF NEBRASKA ART, Kearney, NE
JUNIOR CURATOR SHOW: “Silent Ways of Speaking”
May 9 – July 13, 2014
Diane Marsh, “The Ending of Sorrow” oil on linen, 1994
May 9 – July 13, 2014
A select group of high school students works with the Museum of Nebraska Art staff to conceptualize, choose, and install an exhibition of artworks drawn from MONA’s collection. The experiential learning expands their knowledge of art, museums, and careers. Silent Ways of Speaking is based on the emotional content of art. The students chose pieces that stir an emotional reaction as well as ones that have emotional content, allowing viewers to create their own interpretation.
Diane Marsh “The Weeping Drawer” oil on wood 2006
"EARTH MOTHER: Artist Promotes Need to protect nature in her paintings"
Albuquerque Journal North, May 5, 2006 by Dottie Indyke
In more than two decades as a painter; through times when her possessions were meager and the marketplace was indifferent, Diane Marsh has refused to compromise.
Art for the Abiquiu denizen, is a calling not a career, a venue for articulating deeply held values rather than a revenue source. Some collectors find her work too confrontational, yet others stand before it moved to tears.
Tonight Marsh-whose pieces are in collections at the Albuquerque and Roswell Museum, Santa Fe's Museum of Fine Arts and Capitol Art Collection-is featured alongside painter Duane Slick, at Addison Arts. She is best known for her hyper-realistic portraits of people captured in moments of emotional angst, paintings that convey her belief that humans can only evolve by facing their pain and suffering.
With the birth of her son, Marsh’s focus has shifted. Her thoughts have turned to the state of the environment and what will be left of planet Earth to pass on to the next generation.
Set at Bitter Lake reservoir in Roswell, her recent oil “Sanctuary,” depicts a mother passionately embracing her young son, their faces a mix of serenity and desperation. The painting alludes to the state of the natural world and suggests that the Earth, like the mother can be a source of comfort and refuge.
“The Weeping Drawer,” a portrayal of a dispirited woman with hands clasped, perhaps in prayer, contains a working drawer. Inside are three small paintings-the Earth on fire, and antelope with an arrow in its neck and an image of a child. Marsh’s message is clear: we must honor our connection to nature of risk disaster.
All the canvases are crafted with meticulous detail that requires hundreds of hours of painting time and assiduous study of the human body. Marsh and her son are models for much of the work but, the artist emphasizes, these are not self-portraits. Her figures are meant as archetypes for all human beings.
Growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., art and nature were Marsh's passions. After earning a graduate degree in paintings, she moved to New York City to live in the eye of the art world and was lured to Roswell by an artist-in-residence fellowship.
“Roswell was a very small town then,” she recalls. “I absolutely loved the high desert plains and the pronghorn antelope that roamed there. This was the kind of life I wanted to have.”
She met her future husband, artist Eddie Dominguez, and nine years ago the couple's son was born. His arrival in the world prompted “Anton's Flowers,” a visual homage to a new life and the starting point in Marsh's most recent creative transformation. “Its a big still-life of beautiful flowers in the light,” is how Marsh describes the 2002 painting. “I wanted to do something about the joy, beauty, and happiness of having a child.”
Marsh “Moving Toward Light” oil on wood 1988
L. Kent Wolgamott: Spiritual, emotional powers resonate long after leaving exhibition
L. Kent Wolgamott: Top 10 art world encounters in 2005
Together in Art, Marriage
Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2005 12:00 am
By JAN THOMPSON
KEARNEY - Painter Diane Marsh and sculptor Eddie Dominguez have
been displaying their work together for many years - but only in
their living room.
Their joint exhibit at Kearney's Museum of Nebraska Art, up through Aug. 28, is a first for the married couple. The two artists had ideas about the exhibit as different as their work, but both like the dual vision that comes through in "Diane Marsh and Eddie Dominguez: Parallel Perceptions of Land, Form, and the Natural Condition."
"I wasn't even convinced" about the idea of a joint exhibit when she agreed to it, said Marsh. She said she hesitated at curator Teliza Rodriguez's plan because her work is much different from Dominguez's. There are different color palettes, different media, different styles to the work.
It wasn't until the opening reception, when she saw the exhibit in MONA's east galleries, that she realized it worked.
"I thought the show was powerful, and just beautiful," she said.
Dominguez said he liked the idea of a joint exhibit from the beginning. Sure, he and Marsh have different approaches to art, he said, but hey - it works at home.
"I also know that in our house there's one of her paintings and one of my pieces, and there's no conflict," he said.
Dominguez, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, creates large ceramic sculptures in brilliant colors. The exhibit includes some of his earlier work, such as a dinnerware set in the shape of a flower garden, but most of the pieces are very new. Dominguez said his rosaries, torsos, crucifixes and other work came through a spiritual search, prompted partly by the death of his mother.
"They all sort of happened at the same time," said Dominguez, adding that he becomes aware of the meanings within his pieces as they happen. For example, he'd long been interested in figurative art before trying the torso sculptures, which he later realized echo the shape of the crucifix.
Marsh, who lives and works at the couple's full-time home in New Mexico, paints very large figures that show intense emotion. They are often juxtaposed with objects that give insight into the emotion. Marsh said the size of her work, and its realistic style, come because she wants to show basic truths about what it's like to be human.
"I'm trying to tell the truth as I know it," she said. "I feel like if I'm telling the truth about what it feels like to be human . . .it will be true for other people as well."
Marsh said her work can disturb viewers, because it asks them to look at emotions they may not want to deal with. Dominguez said that intensity in Marsh's work gives it something in common with his own, though he describes her paintings as "soft bold" compared to his "hard bold."
Her colors are soft, her surfaces smooth and her images are ethereal, Dominguez said, while his colors are bright, surfaces harsh and images solid. But they express a similar vision, boldly.
"And that's kind of like our life," Marsh said.
ROSWELL DAILY RECORD -DECEMBER 2002
Diane Marsh Paintings Exhibited at Roswell Museum
Roswell Artist-In-Residence Program artist Diane Marsh currently is exhibiting recent work at the Roswell Museum and Art Center. The electrifying seven piece exhibit can be seen in the Winston-Marshall Gallery now through Dec. 29.
Beyond her prodigious technical skills, Marsh's paintings deal most relevantly with larger human issues: personal growth, transcendence, and man kind's tenuous connections to nature, each other, and o one's self. The work is not about storytelling but about feeling, says Blake Larsen, preparator. “It is not about delineating the individual; its is about illuminating the human being. The work is not portraiture, whether the subject appears to be a personage, a landscape, or a flower. It is an offering of the artist's private and personal revelation of hope. It is about the journey of being alive.”
For Larsen, Marsh's art is as complex and multi-directional as the “conceptual art” movement with which she shares her age. Her uses of visual realism are only an adjunct to her call for repentance, self-realization, and salvation.
Visitors to the museum may view Marsh's work 9 am to 5pm Mon. through Sunday.
Marsh "To Heal An Unlived Life" oil on linen 1998
Unsettling Appearance: Works on view in Governor's Mansion Art Gallery
Journal Star April 8, 2001 by L. Kent Wolgamott
Marsh depicts people in her art work. But her emotionally charged,
psychologically revealing, hyper-realistic paintings are far from
Marsh uses her prodigious technical skills to show us people in the
midst of intense introspection, coping with unstated difficulties
and finding solace outside themselves.
of Marsh's works are on view through May 11 in the governor's Mansion
Art Gallery. They serve as a striking coming-out party for Marsh,
who moved to Nebraska from New Mexico a couple of years ago with her
husband, acclaimed University of Nebraska-Lincoln ceramicist, Eddie
who has an MFA from State University of New York at Buffalo, has had
one-person shows in New York, New Mexico, California and Colorado.
The current exhibition is her first solo show in Nebraska and
establishes her as one of the state's best figurative artists.
is instantly evident in the two studies in the show. “Study for
Deer Heaven”(1993) is a showcase of Marsh's skill with a pencil,
full of fine detail captured only through close observation and a
talented hand. With “Study for an Unlived Life,”(1994)Marsh uses
oil on paper to create an almost photographic image of her female
subject, with blue veins visible beneath the skin, precisely
delineated wrinkles, red cappillaries in the eye and a perfect
blending of pinks, whites, blue, gray and yellow to make up the skin
either herself or her friends, Marsh captures a moment in much the
same manner as Robert Longo and as Sandy Skogland and others of the
genre, she uses her brushwork to convey psychological content, not to
show off in and of itself.
of the four paintings on linen use a diptych form, pairing the
subject with another panel.
fourth is a large 1986 painting “Hold Me/Save Me” in which a
couple cling together, his head against her chest and arm around her
waist, her arms cradling him against her body.The emotion in that
scene is evident. But the details, from the shadows and shading down
to his skin flaws and reddened eyes, make the painting that much more
Two of the diptychs use landscapes as the object of their subject's
contemplation, suggesting that either the forest of 1991's “Do Not
Go Gentle” or the desert vista of 1998's “To Heal an Unlived
Life” is the escape from whatever it is that is troubling the
subject. The ambiguity there seems to demand what moviemakers call a
back story-filling in the blanks about the life and emotional
condition of subject, a young man in the first case, the same woman
from the study in the latter.
is however a universal understanding that comes through the work.
The paintings aren't necessarily easy to look at. They're
beautifully done, but not traditionally beautiful. Bit is in their
slightly unsettling appearance that they achieve their emotional
“The Awakening” (1998) Marsh provides more information. The
woman clutches her arms across her chest, lifting her head upward.
Above her sits an off-white field in which three small images- a
deer's head, a rose and a baby-float vertically in the space. Into
the paint are scratched the words “scar” and “mercy” and,
along the edges, the phrases “you shall know the truth and the
truth shall set you free” and “out of suffering compassion may be
but powerful, “The Awakening” conveys the sense of a move out of
sadness through a revelation of hope.In a sense, that's the theme of
all of Marsh's work.
governor's Mansion Gallery, located in the lower level conference
room, is open to the public on ly on Thursdays from 1 to 4 pm. That
means there are five more opportunities to see Marsh's paintings and
drawing before her show closes.
miss it , and be sure to allow enough time to contemplate the
pictures. They're worth the effort.
"Deep Into His Distance" Oil on canvas, 48" x 94"
“MIRROR IMAGES/Moving Toward Light”
by Diane Armitage, Santa Fe, New Mexico 1991
“Deep Into His Distance” represents a high water mark of achievement in the career of painter Diane Marsh. Using a painstaking technique that one could refer to as hyper-realism, Marsh paints the figure as a vehicle to realize moments of heightened psychological content. Yet Marsh steadfastly maintains that these paintings are not about the figures she paints. She states: “My work is not about realism…These paintings are not intended to be portraits in the traditional sense of portrait painting…Rather they are portraits of humanity…I do not consider this work to be entirely in the tradition of figure painting. I went to art school in the 1970’s and my work is grounded in the ideas of conceptualism, minimalism, abstraction, media and film. Media and film had a great impact on many artists of this time”. This statement may seem a paradox in lieu of the fact that Marsh focuses so intently on the figure to carry the weight of her ideas; and she paints these figures with an impeccable style of realist rendering so that many viewers call her a photo –realist painter, a category that she firmly eschews. Marsh is quick to point out that although she may use a photograph or many photographs, or a mirror, or look out the window to paint the land and incorporate that, it is her sense of color, space, and light that dictate the overall quality of representation that evolves in each painting as the psychological content rises to the surfaces of her consciousness. These spiritual, transcendent and intuitive aspects of her paintings come into being through the act of painting and are not pre-arranged or dictated by photographs.
One perceives in Marsh’s work a highly torqued form of a distillation of ingredients-a condensation of materials that brings the viewer back to some abstract point: a new beginning where the flesh becomes word and the word is entrained with a carefully distilled drop of emotion that reverse the direction of creation: An inverse expansion that begins at the level of the concrete and travels toward the unknown, or toward some greater vastness that envelopes all human beings in their constant struggle to become conscious. The people in Marsh’s paintings convey a sense of emotional realization or confrontation, or even the weight of personal disbelief as they appear to us at the threshold of the known and the unknown. They appear as a “naked singularity”--- a point of suspension between the imagination of the artist and a pull toward dissolution; and by this I don’t mean dissolution in the sense of annihilation, but as a cross roads in the matrix of existence where all the forces that come to play upon our psyches meet and merge and cancel out the objective particulars in favor of an abstract ‘moment of truth’. It is at this juncture of the subject and the object that Marsh commits to the probability that meaning exists---and the act of rendering the potential for meaningfulness becomes a highly developed form of SELF consciousness. By the concept of SELF, I do not mean this in its narrowest definition as a vehicle for ego transactions, but as a concept that symbolizes that vast inner plateau of “the figures and fantasies born of the imaginative heart”. 2.
Marsh agrees that what she attempts to paint is not a portrait of someone grieving, for instance, but an approximation for that process whereby an individual begins to face all that lies below the surface of the objective world---begins to face, as it were her or his soul. As a young painter Marsh used the figure, but usually combined it with a bold sense of pattern and color. In her late 20’s however, Marsh (who is 36 years old at the time of this article) phased out the use of pattern and all referents to objective reality in favor of a reduction in the amount of information in order to concentrate of a technique to probe the inner reaches of the human psyche. As her work evolved, the intensity of the psychological content became the foremost intention of her painting. Marsh states: “I want these paintings to be a statement about all human beings...I want them to be as timeless as possible. I want them to be about universal issues that confront us all and illuminate what it means to be human at this point in time.
Marsh insists that it’s the sense of mystery behind the technique that preoccupies her. Her art is not about the knowledge and control of her highly developed technique of painting, which she feels lies only on the surface. She is searching through her work for a greater truth. It’s the mystery of life and its riches, the richness of the unknown terrain, which lies below the surface of everyone that Marsh is drawn and dedicated to. She adds: “This is my vision, difficult as it may be for others. I feel that these images are a way to get at the nature of the self and that I need to say it in this manner…”
There is a distinct threshold that the viewer is asked to cross in Marsh’s work, and part of that threshold has to do with letting go of the fear of pain and suffering. All of our major “rites of passage”, if we are to successfully pass through them in the process of the evolution of our consciousness, rest on a fulcrum more or less bound to the painful realization that self-scrutiny can come as a form of anxiety and suffering. Marsh paints intense levels of feeling common to all, but does not mediate the image with any ‘smokescreens’ to make the act of perception more palatable to the viewer/participant. Her bold and honest representation of psychological content is the crystal lattice of Marsh’s intensions. She says: “These images are about walking thorough the painting to get to something else…I don’t see them as being about death---They’re about letting go of parts of yourself---They’re about human growth and transcendence, and in order to do that one must face their pain and sorrows. You have to walk through the pain to get to other levels inside. Many people don’t want to make that journey. I see these paintings as being very hopeful because they’re about confronting what we all have to confront in order to grow. This is a good thing.”
At the present time, Marsh is involved in her diptych series that she began in 1987, and that she feels embodies her strongest and most heartfelt concerns. In the diptychs there is the suggestion of a quest for trans-personal meaning beyond even the nature of the self. In the diptychs there is paired with the figure some representative view from the natural world as in the breaking wave of “Deep Into His Distance” (1989) or a filtered sun as if seen through dense fog in “Moving Toward Light” (1988), or a view of a distant galaxy that is paired with the image of a distraught woman in a work called “Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light” (1990).
In all of these diptychs Marsh is trying to suggest that the life of the soul is inextricably and fundamentally bound to the world of nature. Beyond even the ultimate truths of our own human nature, there is the seemingly infinite and ordered phenomena that constitute the natural world around us that we cannot be separated from under peril of our continued evolution. Marsh passionately believes we shouldn’t alienate ourselves form nature because we originate from there and we are totally apart of it in spite of these contemporary times where our relationships to nature are being constantly tested, obstructed, and destroyed.
“Without man’s reflecting consciousness the world is monstrously meaningless: for according to our experience man is the only creature that can determine “meaning” at all”. 3.
The probability that meaning exists within the confines of Diane Marsh’s practice is great. If meaning were to be limited only to the concepts of SELF consciousness that she pursues in her work, then the ability that Marsh has to bring the viewer to the threshold of other levels of awareness that lie behind the concretization of reality is beyond question. Her seriousness of purpose and her distinct ability to realize that purposefulness is a force that sets our inner world in motion once again---expanding it outward and toward a form of symbolic dissolution and to a new act of creation having originated in a single drop of highly distilled awareness. And for Diane Marsh, the increments of her awareness are the differentials of her evolution.
1. James Hillman; A Blue Fire; Harper and Row, 1989; p. 86
2. Ibid; p. 141
3. C. G. Jung quoted in: Number and Time; Marie Louise von Franz; Northwestern Univesity Press, 1974; p. 165