Local artist Diane Schafer-King has been creating marbled works on paper and fabric for decades. An exhibit “The Art of Marbling: A 30-Year Retrospective” opens today at the Garrett Museum of Art with a reception and marbling demonstration from 6 to 8 p.m.
Schafer-King is the owner of DeAnna Su Studios and does demonstrations and education in marbling as well as creating artwork. She answered the following questions by email. The responses have been edited.
Q. What about creating marbled art still intrigues you 30 years later?
A. The magic, the mystery behind the alchemy of the marbling materials and the unknown. I can plan colors, shapes, patterns, designs for the effect that I want in a piece of marbled art, but then I have to be ready to let go and let this art form show me what wants to be created.
It still amazes me how the colors interact on the solution with one another. This is especially unpredictable when I'm marbling outdoors, exposed to the elements. It's very organic!
The world of marbling is always available to me. It waits for me to step into the arena with the marbling materials and create. Last year, due to family issues, I took a sabbatical from shows, workshops and production. The first time marbling after the leave was as if there was never a break in my routine. That was most intriguing, that the art form is always with me.
Q. You are self-taught in this medium. What advice do you have for other artists that want to learn an art form?
A. I would tell them to nurture the creative part of themselves. This starts with a basic belief that they are creative. To be curious and interested in art in a variety of mediums. To talk to artists whose work they admire. To take art classes in mediums they are interested in, to visit art galleries and museums and to buy a piece of art that holds an energy of inspiration for them. To move through the obstacles and failures with enthusiasm to create and explore solutions.
Marbling found me when I was on a trip with friends traveling to see the outdoor art sculptures in Chicago. At that time, I considered myself more of an art lover and traveler than an artist. This trip promised to be a fun adventure with like-minded people. It was that, and much more! More than I could ever have imagined. For me it was a book on marbling that became my source of energy to create. I asked around for a teacher of this medium and found none. I'm so glad I didn't give up and decided to learn what I could about it for myself. One of the reasons why I teach others about marbling is to be that source of knowledge and inspiration.
Q. Do you remember the first piece of art you ever sold?
A. I can still hear the voices of friends and family saying, “you should sell these.”
In the early years I was creating a lot of marbled paper just for the fun and joy of the process. I spent countless hours, which always seemed like minutes, in a basement studio experimenting with colors and patterns on a marbling solution. Soon I was running out of storage and everyone I gifted with stationary and cards seemed to love them, so it was a natural progression into sales. A way for people to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of this art and a way for me to pay for more supplies.
My first framed piece that sold was a collage that used my marbled papers. Again, my artist friends were my biggest supporters. In the late '80s early '90s there was a downtown Fort Wayne bookstore called Books, Music and More, which had a gallery called the Visionary Art Gallery. I was invited to hang a couple pieces of my art in one of the monthlong gallery shows. Throughout that month I visited the gallery, feeling pride that I was included among the “real artists” – you know those that were trained in art school. To my amazement and surprise on one of those visits there was a “sold” sticker on my piece. I didn't feel like I do today when I sell a piece, that the money is an energy exchanged for energy. Then it was more of a feeling of validation, “I guess I am an artist! Some stranger bought this piece of my art.”
Q. Is there anything that struck you as you pulled together items for this retrospective?
A. When I was first asked by the Garrett Museum of Art if I would do an exhibit of my work, I said yes without hesitation. That is one of the things I'm still learning in my quest to live a creative life. To say yes instead of meeting opportunities with resistance.
When I started to get an idea of what pieces to exhibit I was struck by the number of pieces I've created in that time frame and the story they tell. It has been a very humbling experience to see how marbling has expressed through me.
There are 60-plus framed pieces in the show with just as many retail items (marbled silk scarves, pocket squares, covered journals, greeting cards and necklace pendants). Although this is a fraction of the total body of work created in 30 years, it represents the timeline.
The Geisha series, the Cat series, the Kimono series, the Mandalas, the limited-edition papers and the metallics on silk, although sometimes overlapping in time during their creation with other pieces, reflect my life experiences and help tell the story.
Q. What is next? Are there any artistic challenges you want to tackle?
A. The dreamer part of me would love to see marbled patterns on buildings. I traveled to Teotihuacan, Mexico, in the late '90s and envisioned the Pyramid of the Sun encased in marbled patterns.
I belong to The International Marbling Network. It is amazing how many variations of marbling there are. Communicating through email and Facebook works for now, but I would love to attend the International Marbling Gathering.
In the meantime, I will continue to wait for this art form to show me the next step, show me what (it) wants to create through me. It's worked so far.
If you go
What: “The Art of Marbling: A 30-Year Retrospective”
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays; ends Aug. 11; opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. today
Where: Garrett Museum of Art, 100 S. Randolph St., Garrett
Admission: Free, donations accepted