Duane McDiarmid describes his art as “relational aesthetics” – art that functions as a catalyst for people to have an exchange with each other. He creates sculptures, performances and events that address American culture and idiosyncracy. Each project is created to encourage viewers to interact with the piece and with each other and to allow people to interject his or her own point of view. Often disparate views emerge from the audience, but his work seeks to foster a sense of inclusion. According to Duane, these projects are like “modern campfire stories where strangers might gather and tell stories.”
For Duane, art is a social endeavor. He often plays the fool to elicit responses from his audience. “Being in a position of humiliation is certainly a way to start a conversation,” he says. In his playing of the fool he illuminates society’s follies with a sense of humor and reveals the silliness of not only himself but of the world. And as viewers interact with projects, smaller conversations emerge that go beyond the cartoon. “Talking to people, that is where art happens,” Duane says.
He aspires to make work that gets discussed at the highest possible level. While not interested in making consumable art as an end, Duane recognizes the difficulty of economic sustainability of art making. He recently began working in digital formats, a process that was expanded upon while at the Ranch, and is producing images of his projects that can be sold. In addition, Duane began working on paper again while in residence, something he has not done in 20 years. He leaves his Ranch residency feeling confident and invigorated, knowing that he now has the tools and motivation to increase the viability and productivity of his work.