Diane Szczepaniak (1956-2019) was a vibrant force in the visual arts community and a cherished member of InLiquid since 2004. In addition to producing art herself, Diane was deeply engaged in teaching, earning her MA in Art Education from the University of Cincinnati in 1983 and serving as an instructor at various institutions in Cincinnati OH, Evanston IL, and Potomac MD. She also presented annual workshops for the Graduate Student Center at Harvard University and was an active board member of the Washington Sculptors Group.
Diane worked in a variety of mediums. Her early training as a sculptor and welder gave her an intuitive understanding of the dynamics of form. In her paintings, form emerged from her exploration of watercolor layering. These works were often inspired by the emotions roused by poetry, music, and meditation. However, through the thousands of layers of paint, something deeper is conveyed, something beyond the visual or even the symbolic.
In Diane’s sculpture work, light is the guiding principle. Her glass sculptures, displayed in Chance Encounters at Park Towne Place shortly before her passing in 2019, show a natural curiosity towards the interplay of light and color. Diane took translucent sheets of glass and layered them to create dynamic assemblies of shades, shapes, and shadows, adding new dimensions to seemingly simple flat surfaces.
This fascination with light is also seen in Diane’s Folding Panel series. The free-standing sculptures are composed of wood and sheet metal, full of rectangular shapes and right angles, evoking the aesthetics of carpentry or stage design. But the way light dances through each piece, reflecting from one metallic surface to another, creates an ethereal ambience and a unique sense of perpetuity.
Diane had a keen eye for the in-betweens and the hidden. In her artist statement, she stated: “By training myself to see flat surfaces as energetic space, I have worked to realize and share the invisible distances that are often crowded out in our increasingly efficient, light-saturated, and networked lives.” This singular perspective is evident in Diane’s remarkable body of work.
A reception was held to honor the life of Diane Szczepaniak on Friday, November 8, 2020 at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Rockville, MD. Diane’s passion for her work carried through to the final stages of her life. As she entered hospice care, Diane continued working on a project through the VisArts Bresler Residency. Despite her circumstances, she strove to complete her proposed work with the assistance of friends and family, resulting in an extraordinary sculptural relief titled Flipping Panels Falling Like Water. As with the art she produced throughout her incredible life, the work is attentive and insightful, inviting the viewer to follow the movement of light and shadow down a mesmerizing matrix of angled, wooden surfaces.
Diane was a committed, passionate, and generous artist. She will be missed by the InLiquid community, and both she and her family are in our thoughts.