Diana Erb is an abstract painter who explores the boundaries of landscape, memory and imagination. She studied fine art at the Ontario College of Art and Design, and at Concordia University where she received her BFA with distinction majoring in art education. Diana has exhibited her work throughout Waterloo region since 2009 and has designed and instructed countless classes and workshops in the region and surrounding area. She was a regular participant in New Hamburg Live! Festival, a former member of Uptown Gallery and Art Allies, and a co-founder of the New Hamburg Studio tour in 2016. Diana was a nominee in the Visual Art category for Arts Awards Waterloo Region in 2011 and 2015. She lives in New Hamburg, Ontario where she and her partner run an instructional facility for music and visual art called Sight & Sound Studios.
You know the feeling you get when you’re trying to remember an event from your life and you cannot quite get it right in your mind? How about the face of someone you love who is gone, can you see all those details in your memory, the way they laughed or smiled? Can you remember the exact feeling you had from a day long ago which you wish you could re-live? These are the images and emotions I am currently exploring in my acrylic paintings. I’m interested by how our memories can play tricks on us. We live in real time with all our senses “on”, and when that time is gone and becomes the past we cannot experience it again. We tend to imagine single images from those life experiences, and a still image just can’t always get it right. Pieces are missing, senses are missing. To explore this theme of memory fallacy I have collected failed photographs from which to build my painting. They are sometimes photographs which were taken by accident, or turned out blurry or streaked with movement. It allows me to build from that failed snapshot, like a memory which is just out of reach. This series of paintings is colourful and abstract, evoking an emotional and intuitive response. I use movement and colour-glazes to capture the layers which exist in our memories.
The second series of works I am creating currently (my side project) are a collection of hard-edged geometric abstract acrylic paintings on wood. Most of these are small-scale works between 6”-12”. These small abstract pieces are representations of traditional quilt block patterns. Quilting is a huge part of our collective identity as people who live in Waterloo region. For me it is also representative of my own history as a progressive Mennonite person, and personal identity as the granddaughter of a rural quilter and maker-of-all-things-domestic. Quilts have long brought people together in community, they bring warmth to families, they bring relief to those who are suffering. They are very symbolic of peace and the silent work of those who wish to attain it. This is what I wish to honour with my quilt blocks. I’m also very interested in colour relationships and intensity of contrast explored through this style of painting. Colour relationships can be captivating, play tricks on the eye making difficult to look at, or create a sense of calm stillness. These are the types of responses to colour that I aim for in my hard-edged paintings.
These two very different groups of work help me to achieve a balance in my painting. My larger paintings on canvas are very fluid, intuitive and free. They require a great deal of movement while they are being created and they are very energizing for me as the artist. The quilt blocks, however, require patience and meticulous attention to detail. They demand a certain inner calm, and reflective attitude allowing me to achieve a balance in my creative process.