Make Art Not Waste
Best of Olympia: Best Non-traditional Artist, Weekly Volcano, 2011 & 2012
Diane Kurzyna and I talk in her studio in downtown Olympia where Wonder Bread plastic babies hang on the wall and a blue plastic man watches from the corner. “I have always been attracted to art and discards,” she shares. “My earliest memory of combining the two is from when I was seven years old and taking Saturday art classes at the Newark (N.J.) Museum, where I used bottle caps and scrap wood and other stuff to create a cityscape.” Diane was raised in a family that values art and recycling. Her father was a re-user and saver. He once made a desk for her out of post office packing crates and scrap wood.
Diane has a B.S. in Environmental Design from Rutgers University, NJ, and a BFA in Fiber Arts with an emphasis in surface design from the University of Washington. She is on the Washington State Roster of Teaching Artists and enjoys going into schools to lead art making projects. While she teaches about the process of making art; discussing shape, line, form, color, texture, and placement, she utilizes recycled materials and educates her students about the science, benefits, and politics of recycling and reusing.
When talking to me about how the color and line interacts with the crocheted fastenings on her sculpture, her ideas concerning the environmental consequences of these materials piling up around our world are interwoven. She stresses that community recycling is great but we need to look at the bigger picture. She explains that the public should not foot the bill. Diane believes that products should be designed taking into consideration how they will be disposed of after use. The manufacturer is making a profit. The cost and method of recycling, needs to be factored into the design and creation of the products.
Diane’s art focuses on the human form. She got started making plastic babies when her son was 10 years old. “We were a tofu and whole wheat type of family,” she says. Then her son decided he wanted white bread and red meat. Diane saved Wonder Bread bags with the colored balloons on them for later use. The idea of making babies out of the bread bags came from thinking about kids, waste, and life. She says that the baby is a symbol life, a baby is vulnerable, and her plastic baby is a symbol of life that is vulnerable to the harmful consequences plastic waste can create.
To make the baby sculptures, Diane starts with a flexible toy doll. She wraps the doll with plastic bags and tape. She then makes a cut in the back of the wrapping large enough to pull the doll out. She assures me that, “no baby dolls were harmed in this process.” Once the doll is pulled out, the hollow form is stuffed with more plastic bags. This helps the sculpture hold its shape. Diane then works with the color, texture, and shapes she will add to the surface to complete the sculpture. She sometimes crochets a netting over her sculptures. Her studio has drawers and shelves filled with materials organized by color and ready to use. Diane also makes life size plastic humans. She uses real people as the mold in the same manner described above when using the dolls.
Diane writes, “Creating beauty from precious and beautiful materials seems so obvious, but to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear is magic. There is something magical about being able to transform ordinary, unwanted stuff into something interesting, even beautiful. And finding junk while walking around town or on the beach is like finding treasure: junk that has been weathered and worn has a unique quality to it.”
Diane has exhibited her sculptures in museums and galleries in Maine, Indiana, Oregon, and many cities in Washington State, Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Everett, Leavenworth, and many more. Her “Crazy Quilt Plastic Patch Baby” is currently part of the “Art From Scrap” show at the Washington Center, Olympia, WA.
Postings of her “trashionators” (that’s fascinators made from trash, specifically plastic bags), can be viewed HERE
On Diane’s blog: Olympia Dumpster Divers you can view what other artists have created using trash.
Diane says of herself, “I am a serious artist with a sense of humor.”
Diane Kurzyna, Ruby Re-Usable email: firstname.lastname@example.org