Chappaqua, New York Artist Turns Resonating Moments Into Inspirational Works Of Art

If you asked Chappaqua, New York artist Diana van Nes where exactly the inspiration for a piece of her art came from, she might be at a loss. Stepping back a bit, she will be able to retrace the process to some moment that deeply resonated. For example, a simple baseball cap unfurls into an American flag of mixed media art that symbolizes something other than the ideals it was intended to.
Chappaqua, New York Artist Turns Resonating Moments into Inspirational Works of Art
Source - https://pixabay.com/en/american-flag-flag-red-white-blue-1109393/

If you asked Chappaqua, New York artist Diana van Nes where exactly the inspiration for a piece of her art came from, she might be at a loss. Stepping back a bit, she will be able to retrace the process to some moment that deeply resonated. For example, a simple baseball cap unfurls into an American flag of mixed media art that symbolizes something other than the ideals it was intended to.

"I think our society is overly dependent on status symbols to define who were are," she says. So a flag made of baseball cap logos epitomizes how we try

to stand out rather than standing up for things that matter. She hopes her art can help show the way.

It definitely began with flags, though. Her father's military funeral and flag draped coffin had a profound impact on her and thus they dominate her inspiration today. Losing an arm in World War II, he was never the same and died due to alcoholism at the age of 44. "A flag covered his coffin," she says, and today those feelings help her weave political and social commentaries on abuse of power, hypocrisy and so on.

Closely associated with the caps is "Children of The Dark Ages." It Emerged out of a New York Times article about U.S. clothing manufacturers who employ deplorable conditions for factory workers in the third world. "It's called following the needle to the cheapest foreign labor," she says. Consisting entirely of high profile tags, it symbolizing what she calls, "an abuse of capitalism" and the human rights abuse that follows

In return, only a labor intensive effort will do to match the power of her statement. Taking months to complete something like the baseball caps piece, she says, "I have to develop a vocabulary for the pieces so that it conveys the concept - not just logos on the flag."

But there's a large artistic literacy gap between the first piece she sold in 1997 and an empty resume. Married in 1969, with a daughter and son to come, she says, "I loved being a stay at home mom and naturally found creative outlets while raising my children."

Quite quaint, but children in their twenties or the instinctive urge to explore her right brain finally found its place. "I was so ready to throw myself into art," she says, and she enrolled at SUNY Purchase in 1995.

There she found a stimulating environment that broke down barriers for her in terms of approaching art and what could be seen as art. She also


liked being around a bunch of artists half her age, and not just because their youthful openness and ideas helped her creativity grow. "I wanted to die my hair pink," she says in appreciation of a student body stuck in the 60's (or somewhere yet to be determined).

She knew that wouldn't do in Chappaqua but the kids reciprocated with the appropriate measure of affection. "They kind of looked to me as a mother figure," she says.

Looking to the real world, she took a few pieces to the Granary Gallery in Martha's Vineyard, where they gave her a work a try. "I think the next day they were sold," she says, "and that was the beginning of an exceptional artist/gallery relationship."

Today, her work is hung as part of the U.S. Department of State's Art in Embassy Program and in the homes and offices of influentials such as - President Clinton, Michael J. Fox and Miramax's Harvey Weinstein. But parting with the pains of her labor is a lot easier than it may seem. "I'm always glad to say goodbye to it," she says.

Flags, though, aren't the only common iconic symbols she parts company with to make social commentary. Still life pieces mix the man-made with the natural in the attempt to get us to remember and preserve the beauty of the environment as we leave our human footprint behind.

She also has something to say about what constitutes beauty through her cupboard series. In one piece called "Infirmary," she shows beauty can be seen in broken pieces as well as in the whole - even as we tend to prejudge. Here message : We can break the mold for what's considered to be beautiful, she says.

Unfortunately, she was slowed by the onset of Parkinson's disease in 2000, which challenges her ability to mentally simplify concepts. Still not deterred in her attention to detail, she's made accommodations. Either way, she's sure she can keep coming up with ideas and hopes they can be executed. "I'm not worried at this point," she concludes.



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