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/ Exhibitions / Garden of Biotanical Delights: Diane Kempler

Garden of Biotanical Delights: Diane Kempler

September 1, 2017 – January 6, 2018(This exhibition has passed.)

Although Diane Kempler and Hieronymus Bosch work in different media and are, forgive the obvious, from vastly different cultural eras, there is something about Kempler’s wildly gesturing ceramic forms that are reminiscent  of Bosch’s passionately overpopulated paintings. It is not just the similarity of the titles. Just as Bosch’s seminal painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights seduces the viewer with the richness of macroscopic life, Kempler’s Garden of Biotanical Delights achieves the same effect with the richness of life seen through a microscope. Art historians have struggled for years to agree on an interpretation of the tiny triptych in the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain; likewise, scientists still struggling to unlock the world of microbes – the microscopic creatures too small to be seen with the unaided eye, that make up the oldest form of life on the planet and without which macroscopic life as we know it would not survive.

Here, the visual comparison of viruses and molecules with seed and fungi results in this multi-talented artist’s stunning response to the garden portrayed by the Dutch Renaissance artist while capturing the energy of microbes in the colors and forms fashioned in a contemporary garden that is uniquely her own.


Artist statement

My principal goal as an artist has been to use clay as a medium to explore the essence of human existence. To achieve this objective, I travel frequently, I walk frequently, and I look frequently—all involving external and internal exploration. I am especially interested in the transitional cycle of life from birth to death and rebirth. More recently, I have explored the world through the viewpoint of a microscope viewing images of bacteria and fungi, as well as a variety of seeds. This has given me a wealth of surprises and a sense of wonder that, in turn, has provided a rich source for my work. I use mainly porcelain and undercolors to create a visceral environment about the nature of all things. What are the similarities between the microbial images and the seeds I discover? The answer is in this exhibition where I have taken the biological and botanical to create a rich world of the Biotanical—an amalgamation.

This exhibition is dedicated to my mentor Paulus Berensohn who taught me to exercise the muscle of my imagination.

I also wish to acknowledge biologist Nicole Gerardo from Emory University for introducing me to fungi, bacteria, and the hidden world of microbes.

– Diane Kempler

About the artist

Diane S. Kempler, a native of New York, earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brandies University. After moving to Atlanta, her art career was launched through a series of clay workshops at the Penland School and, afterwards, establishing her own studio. Her clay sculptures have been the subject of numerous and well-reviewed solo and group exhibitions in the Southeast. Additionally, she had been a staff member at Atlanta’s Callanwolde Arts Center, museum director of the Center of Puppetry Arts and, more recently, a professor at Emory University’s Department of Visual Arts. In 2009, Kempler received a residency at Denmark’s International Ceramic Studio; she later participated in ceramic studio residences in Hungry and France and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to travel to India to research hand-building pottery techniques in rural villages. Her research has been featured in three short documentary films.