Artist Statement

by Lisa Dietz

I am a disabled artist and my art rose from my disability. Prior to my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in 2005, I had an extensive background in photography and writing. I was especially trained in writing and I identified myself as a Writer. After the TBI, I lost my ability to maintain the focus required for writing, but gained the ability to create art. I had no classical training in art or textiles so I learned by inspiration, trial and error and reading.

My work is primarily created from recycled materials. Initially, this was a simple financial decision, purchasing supplies from thrift stores. But it has become an integral part of my passion for art. Oftentimes, found objects 'speak' to me in that they seem to have an innate artistic purpose. There are times when I encounter an item of clothing, for instance, that speaks so loudly I feel like I'm merely the tool that turns it into what it wants to be.

I was fortunate that my first complete art project , a table runner beset with women's faces , won awards and was chosen for display in art shows. This was the validation I needed to 'let go' and pursue what was becoming an inner vision. In only a few years, I started winning top awards from the State Fair, received recognition from artists and art institutions and was asked to participate in shows. Given my limitation from the TBI in basic executive functioning skills like planning, organizing and paying attention, it seems truly amazing and I am grateful that I encountered the people I needed to help me.

For a short time, I participated at Interact Center for Artists with Disabilities

In the beginning, my work was directed by a burning desire to try out different techniques with fibers. But when I saw a PBS program about Mark Rothko, I gained a sense of purpose about my work. I read as much as I could about the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1950's and 60's including the works of Clyfford Still and Robert Motherwell. What I internalized from that was the desire to elicit an emotional response from viewers. Without the classical training, I was only frustrated by the attempt to replicate realistic scenes and people. Now, I intentionally distort the realistic aspects of my work because I don't want my viewers to get caught up in what a particular image looks like. Rather, I seek to represent aspects of nature, society and humanness with symbolic images and shapes that have been manipulated in a way to create an emotional response. For instance, with Adaptive Yoga, I sought to communicate the essence of my yoga instructor and the impact of my yogic experience. It was more important to me that the work was created using a whole-cloth technique to represent the dichotomy of completeness from an individual often viewed as 'broken.'

My current work is frequently inspired from a sense of vision, sometimes even a dream or from the quality of an object. But I am happy that I forget my plans as I work because I like the freedom of an organic process, allowing my work have its own life.

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