SF State alumna thrives as artist
“Not everyone is going to love what you do, and not everyone should love what you do,” said Diane Tate DallasKidd, an SF State alumna, as she described her journey becoming a full-time artist in San Francisco.
She walked through Palette art gallery with small steps, carefully explaining the thought process and execution that went into each piece on display. Her latest series, “Nest,” was made for a show at Palette SF, which was an exhibition about the connection between food and art.
“When I joined the Palette project, I thought of Diane immediately,” said gallery director Jasmin Bode. Bode met DallasKidd a few years back and immediately fell in love with her work. “We invited her to Palette to discuss the commission of a sculpture for the space.” From here, DallasKidd came up with the Red Nest, which evolved into the Nest series.
“I decided it would be a fun challenge to go to different neighborhoods in the city and collect materials,” DallasKidd said. “I was thinking about what all the city birds collect and put in their nest.”
She made seven displays representing different areas of the city, along with a large red nest that hangs from the ceiling. The red wire used for this is incorporated into the smaller pieces as a way of connecting the collection. Each piece has distinct, hand-picked items and are unique to that area.
A display containing a little Russian doll, chess pieces and a dim sum box culminated into a visual representation of Clement Street in the Richmond District. While searching in the Financial District, DallasKidd realized there were no tangible items — all of the material was the energy in the air. Social encounters around the area is what DallasKidd took into consideration when building her designs.
“I quickly started recording tidbits of conversation,” she said. “My favorite one is this guy saying it’s the eternal question of how to allegate power.” She typed all of the conversations onto paper resembling ticker tape and formed it into the design of a nest.
She got her start as an artist when she graduated from SF State in 2004 with a degree in textile art. She then went to Nagoya, Japan, to do work study for a fourth generation dyer, Mr. Kuno. She studied shibori, which she described as a way of creating a pattern on a textile by resisting dye.
DallasKidd has stayed up all night working in a little apartment above the studio experimenting with materials and techniques. She described the space as a magical toy box, wanting to play with every toy she could find.
Once she came home, she worked full-time for a textile company while waiting tables and chipping away at her ideas on the weekends. One of her biggest challenges starting out as an artist was having so many ideas but not being able to commit to one. Focus, time and energy was needed to make her art come to fruition. Once she gained enough confidence to move from working at home to a studio, her work got more recognition.
“The first time I walked into her studio I had an immediate response,” said Philip Bewley, fine art advisor and curator at DZINE Gallery. “There was precision that blew everyone away.”
DallasKidd described her art as technical but also very expressive and intuitive. She rotates between mediums, including sculpture, textile and mixed media. Many of her pieces of work have inspired other ideas, which always leads her to work in series. Her current series started out with weaving on a loom, using thread to create images. From there she began to think about water and currents.
“I had this ‘ah ha’ moment where I was like, weaving is kind of like watching waves going in and out at the shore,” DallasKidd said. “So then I thought what if I took water levels and try to incorporate this.”
This led her to another piece measuring water levels throughout the day and the threads are connecting these points. This is where her love for working in series comes from. She is always digging deeper and elaborating on ideas.
DallasKidd has never struggled for inspiration. If anything, it has always been the opposite for her. She wishes she had more time and resources to execute all of the ideas running through her mind.
“I’m only one person so I can only do so much,” she said. “I have way too many ideas and way too little time.”