Diann Bauer’s lecture this evening served as somewhat of a retrospective of her recent work, which includes drawings, sculptures, and multimedia murals and installations. Through overarching thematic interests, Diann incorporates influences across the board: from the visceral organic forms in Peter Paul Rubens paintings to the two-dimensional traditional woodblock prints that emblemize Japanese culture to the geometric-yet-anthropomorphic drawings of artist-architect hybrid Lebbeus Woods. These influences are apparent in her work by stylistic means as well as by means of appropriation, and maintain visual interest and continuity throughout her body of work.

The first dominant conceptual theme she mentioned was the issue of spectacles and violent images, as a matter of questioning exactly what about these images makes them so seductive to the viewer. Diann also tackles issues of spatial relationships — both the viewer’s relationship to the art piece as well as the relationship between images or figures in her own piece. (Perhaps one of the most telling examples of both these fascinations is her piece Bludgeonerator [2006], in which viewers are quite deliberately led down a hallway lined with graphic, brutal imagery.) What her work has eventually led to is her current premise of pseudo-satirical large scale images (paintings and sculptures and the like) featuring slogans or quotes evocative of political motivations.

Having Diann as an instructor this semester before having heard her speak about her own work or had any precedent for what type of work she did, it is interesting to realize in retrospect how motivated her decisions in assignments have been, now seemingly so clearly tied to her own personal interests in image-making (for example, in collage and mixed media facture). However, aesthetic and media tastes aside, hearing Diann speak about her own work in the context of an academic lecture was enlightening in terms of receiving a clear articulation of the development of an artist. While all the students in her introductory drawing class might consider ourselves familiar with her tastes in aesthetics, after having some number of critiques with her, it is humbling to see these tastes translated so effectively at such large physical and influential scales. Perhaps the most evocative point she made was that, along the development of the self as an artist, ideas that may not intrinsically “interest” an artist may at some point be forced upon them, compelling them, and resulting in some of their greatest works.

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