Briefly describe the work you do.
I make photographs, drawings, paintings, and prints. The common thread that connects my work in these different media is that I always try to see my subjects in two ways. For example, in my series Clouds for Comment, I post dramatic photographs of skies in social media, and then overlay comments made about my images on large prints of the clouds. So in this series I am making sumptuous landscapes referencing both the Hudson River school and Baroque painting, and simultaneously looking at where photography is today in the social media. In another series, A Measure of Art, I graph artists’ auction sales results in their respective visual languages. Illustratively, I superimposed a bar graph of Ed Ruscha’s sales over a stripped down version of one of his standard gas stations. Also as part of this series, I made a pie chart spin painting of Damien Hirst’s market performance, and a red Yayoi Kusama bubble net print with a graph of her auction sales inserted by coloring the appropriate circles orange. A Measure of Art can be seen in two ways, as both appropriation and legible art market data.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I grew up in San Francisco in the 70s and the 80s. My mother is a financial analyst and my father was a doctor. I learned to see the world through both of these lenses, through markets, through probability and statistics, through observation and through the scientific method. I also developed my worldview, one which contrasts sharply with analytic home environment in which I was raised, in the San Francisco of my teenage years, a left coast urban meld of hippie ideology, Chinese culture and gay sensibility. Another stream of influence is the outsider perspective being Jewish in a town that is largely not so. I think that this combination of influences has led me to want to see and to present everything I create with rigor and always in more than one light.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I spend a lot of time in my studio, though sometimes it’s as much a base of operations as where my art is made. My art practice includes a lot of activities that happen outside the studio, such as photographing outdoors to reading in the library. Research behind my artwork has ranged widely from doing a silent ten day Vipassana meditation retreat to discussing ideas with people in various scientific fields, transportation, finance, and psychology.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Making my art often involves learning about other fields, from architecture weather systems. For example, I ended up doing data entry and accounting for my Measure of Art series, something I never thought might be part of an art practice.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
Being an artist is something that I cannot turn off. I’m always looking, thinking, and generating ideas for new artworks. In the thick of a project I can work quite intensely for a few months, and then I go through more dormant times where I don’t work so much. Certain times of day are good for certain activities, so I try to write in the morning and draw in the afternoon. Photography outdoors can require particular kinds of light, so I’m attuned to the weather when photographing clouds, trees and gardens, and I let the light dictate my schedule as much as possible.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
I am more ambitious than I was 5 years ago. Clouds for Comment has evolved into The Clouds, a public art proposal for the tech buses in San Francisco. I returned to A Measure of Art after taking a break for a few years, and the new work is larger, more singular and more varied. I am now working on unique painted columns incorporating the market data of sculptor Anne Truitt, whereas my earlier pieces on her were editioned digital prints on canvas.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My mother is certainly responsible for my interest in markets. As a child I followed the Dow Jones average on the radio to see what kind of mood she might be in when she got home. I was married to a software engineer during the dot-com era. I went to the parties, heard the stories and met some of the people. Like an ethnologist studying a foreign tribe, I came away with ideas about data, how computers work, and the sociology of online behavior.
The work of other artists shapes the way I see. For example, once on a long distance drive through Pennsylvania at night I entered Jasper Johns territory, and on trips around the U.S. I understand what I see through the eyes of Robert Frank, Stephen Shore, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lee Friedlander and many other artists. I lived in Japan for a short time, and Japanese culture has had a lasting impact on my work. I think of art as a practice and a way of life, as the Japanese do, and also appreciate that they do not distinguish so much between art and craft. The scientific method, ethics and my athletic pursuits also impact my artwork.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
For about two weeks in college I considered becoming a doctor. Other interests include art history, the outdoors, and water sports.
San Francisco artist Diane Rosenblum recently proposed to bring the sky into the street by wrapping the Google bus with her striking photos of clouds with text taken from social media. This public art project, The Clouds, aims to open a dialogue between the new tech economy and the older San Francisco culture, forging a path to a more inclusive and vibrant relationship. The proposal is an extension of her series Clouds for Comment, where text comments on her photos from flickr.com are superimposed on her striking images of the sky.
Rosenblum’s work combines a strong visual impact with a rigorous conceptual practice. The marriage of beauty and ideas results in memorable artworks that play a positive role in people’s lives. In her series A Measure of Art, Rosenblum graphs auction sales results of artists such as Ed Ruscha and Takashi Murakami in their own visual language. Her recent Snap Chalk Drawings explore the structure of thought, while the photographs in her Mother’s Garden project deal with meditative states and visual perception.
Rosenblum’s work has recently been exhibited at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Slate Gallery in Oakland . Her work is currently on view at the Weston Gallery in Carmel, California.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.