Diana Manchak has been working in clay since 1989 and now works from her southern Maryland home studio.
After a long and multifaceted career in the travel industry, Diana redirected her energy and interests down a different career path. Originally interested in Landscape Architecture, the pull towards the visual arts and clay proved greater. Upon completion of an intense three year fine arts program at Kansas State University, she returned to the metropolitan area in 1991. A lifelong interest in Art, Art History, Archeology and Design provided a foundation from which to perceive and understand other cultures. The influence of foreign cultures, ancient arts, contemporary design and the natural environment are all present in her work. Her work frequently reflects design elements drawn from experiences and impressions attained from living in East Africa, the American Southwest and from extensive worldwide travel.
She has developed her own style of craftsmanship through her exploration of the sculptural and constructive properties of clay and enjoys creating work that is interesting, balanced and visually fluid. She enjoys the interchange of ideas that flow from alternating between creating functional and decorative works. Diana employs a range of techniques including handbuilding with slabs, extruded forms, handbuilt sculptural elements and work thrown on the wheel, or combinations thereof, to create a repertoire of interesting and unusual designs and objects. Some forms are highly sculptural and amorphic with fluid lines while others may be more precise and detail oriented.
Surface decoration may include incising, carving, drawing or impressing objects or textures into the clay add to the overall visual and tactile appeal of her work. Those textures may be combined with contrasting areas of alternate designs. Almost any normal or strange found object becomes a “tool” to create a lasting impression in the clay and as part of the overall image. Shells, wood fragments, computer parts, roots, plant materials, dried fish and any other object may find a place in her “bag of tools”. The objective is to create a harmony of texture and form and her three dimensional sculptural works tend to evoke curiosity as to how the form changes and the textures develop and flow beyond the eye’s horizons around the “back” of the work
Final enhancements are achieved with a variety of glaze techniques used to highlight the textures or design elements. To emphasize the delicate nature of some types of texturing, the clay is fired without applied glaze or perhaps with just a very thin “wash”. Specific glaze effects are achieved by the planned layering of different glazes and/or oxide washes of glaze, resulting in an interaction with the clay body and the surface textures.
Diana’s philosophy is that works created by hand should communicate a sense of the human touch and that every piece of work, whether simple or complex in design and use, functional or decorative, should have a distinct and unique personality. For Diana, the process used to create a piece of artwork is as important as the finished piece. While an admirer or purchaser may not understand all of the process involved in a piece of work, many seem to appreciate not just the form but also the workmanship and overall end product of the creative process.