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Interview with artist Diane Huff

'Beaded', clay monoprint, 25" x 35"

Diane Huff is currently exhibiting work on paper in a two-person show (with Allison Svoboda) at the Chicago Artists' Coalition gallery. The exhibition is part of a year-long series of work by CAC members, curated by Susan Aurinko (photographer and owner of the recently-closed Flatfile Gallery). I was intrigued by how Diane made her subtly-textured yet brightly-colored monoprints, so I began this short interview by asking her to describe how she made the prints.

Philip: You make prints using a technique called 'clay monoprint'. Could you described the materials and process?

Diane: The process uses liquid clay, colored with powdered pigment such as you would use for oil painting. I also use Akua water-based printing inks. I work on a leather-hard clay slab. I apply a single layer of color or many layers. Each color that I apply becomes embedded in the slab. When I'm satisfied or ready to see what happens (sometimes my work is very serendipitous), I spray the slab with a light spritz of water, and do the same to the paper, which is a special paper called Remay. Then I mask off the borders and pull a print by rubbing the back of the paper.

Philip: The prints have vibrant colours and striking contrasts of forms. Where do you think that sense of design comes from?

Diane: I'm not sure where the "design" comes from. Very often I arrive at the image by pure chance. Sometimes I will see something I want to emphasise, and then I mask off an area to bring that image to the fore.

'Reach for the Sun', clay monoprint, 21" x 22"

Philip: Could you say something about how you arrive at titles for the prints?

Diane: Titles are the hardest thing to come up with. Sometimes the prints go untitled for weeks after I've made them. This can cause problems sometimes when I need to find a print again! Because I work in series, I try to find a related theme. For example, I did a series based on visits to Santa Fe, while another series was mainly based around the color blue. 

Philip: Are there any recurring themes or patterns that you recognize in your own work?

Diane: Circles seem to be a recurring theme in my work, and things that relate to the organic world -- leaves, flower forms, bones, and so on. However, I must say that when I let my mind wander, with no set idea in mind, I tend to be happiest with the results.  

The show at the Chicago Artists' Coalition gallery at 2010 W. Pierce Street, Chicago, runs through June 24th. You can see more of Diane's work at www.dianehuff.com.

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