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Artist shares talent through therapy work

Diane Margiota
Diane Margiota (Photo by Lyndi McNulty)

Diane Margiotta is an artist and art instructor for the Continuing Education Department at Carroll Community College and Carroll Lutheran Village.

Margiotta became interested in theater during her junior and senior years of high school when she painted sets and acted in theater production.

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When Margiotta started college, she discovered that theater parts were hard to get. But with art, she was able to express herself any time she chose. As a result, she became an art major at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Margiotta did watercolor and pencil portraits of friends and a sculpture of her boyfriend in terra cotta, a type of earthenware. The classes she took were primarily focused on painting and art history. Her oldest sister was a figure model in San Francisco, which inspired Margiotta to do figure drawing, even when she was in high school.

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Her sister took Margiotta to classes with her at community centers and local schools in San Francisco.

After graduating from college, Margiotta took a job in therapeutic recreation working with stroke survivors. Then in 1979, she attended Hoffberger School of Painting, which is a part of Maryland Institute College of Art.

At first, she did realistic paintings of people at the stroke center. Then, in graduate school, she felt more free. Margiotta set out to emulate the work of Francis Bacon, whose intense emotion and abstraction was fascinating to her. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting.

She held many jobs in the continuing education field after graduating from art school. While still living in Baltimore, Margiotta branched out into painting a series of factories in the area.

"The factories looked like dysfunctional machines and the conveyor belts resembled a churning inside," Margiotta said.

Then, from 1984 to 2011, Margiotta taught art and art history at The Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, a school that was founded in 1885 by the founders of The Bryn Mawr College.

In the early 1990s, her paintings became more abstract as she experimented with the use of time-lapse photographs of dancers for her inspiration.

"I love dance because it is sculpture in motion," Margiotta said. "There is nothing more beautiful than the human figure. I drew static figures for years and the time-lapse photography freed me to paint the figure in motion."

One thing that has always been consistent since she was in high school is her interest in figures and her love of intense color.

When beginning a painting, Margiotta starts with a line drawing and lays out the composition. Then she builds a painting from there. She often works on stained canvases and does a chalk drawing on top of it. Margiotta said she likes to use chalk because it can be removed easier than pencil.

"I always looked at art as a spiritual journey," she said. "My father was a music teacher and played music in swing bands."

Her mother was an art major in college. As a child, Margiotta stayed away from their specialty areas.

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In 2009, Margiotta began to teach art and ceramics at the Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement. Most of the participants have had a stroke or brain injuries.

"When people lose the ability to speak easily, the right side of the brain becomes stronger," she said. "There are many talented students in my class."

Locally, she teaches painting and drawing classes in the Continuing Education Department of Carroll Community College. Also, as part of the Continuing Education Department at the college, she teaches art and ceramics at Fairhaven — a continuing-care retirement community in Sykesville — and drawing and painting at Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster. Margiotta also teaches art and art history at Baltimore City Community College.

Margiotta has displayed her art at the Mid-Atlantic Plein Association shows, Morgan State University, the Creative Alliance, The Unicorn Gallery in Baltimore County and other area galleries.

Since 2007, she has been on the board of the Towson Arts Collective, a venue that provides a place for artists and the community to meet. It is located at 40 W. Chesapeake Avenue in Towson. The website is www.towsonartscollective.org.

Margiotta can be contacted at towsonartscollective@gmail.com.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster. Her column appears on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

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