Diane Reed Sawyer: Isolation Expanse

Real Eyes Gallery in Adams

By: - May 23, 2021

Diane Reed Sawyer
Real Eyes Gallery
71 Park Street Adams, Mass.
917 440 2400
Through May 31
Artist’s Reception: May 27, 5 to 7 PM

During the pandemic artists have continued to work in their studios while exhibitions have been limited. Now things are beginning to open up again as more individuals become vaccinated.

Real Eyes Gallery, one of the best venues in the Berkshires has been shuttered for the past year. It recently reopened by appointment with an exhibition by the North Adams based artist Diane Sawyer. There will be a reception for the artist on May 25 from 5 to 7 PM.

The focus of her work entails aerial views of cities based on photographs taken from airplanes. That was the theme planned for her gallery exhibition. With a long delay the work took another direction in response to  special circumstances. The recent work is experimental and abstract.

The exhibition Isolation Expanse conflates and contrasts the development of the perspective cityscapes and a vector that is characterized as expansive.

By presenting the norm of her recent work, as well as the abrupt turn in another direction in response to circumstances beyond our control, this exhibition proves to be evocative and affirmative.

After a time of social distance, masks and hibernation it is a fitting relaunch for the gallery with its commitment to feature the work of singular Berkshire based artists.

Artist’s Statement


by Diane Reed Sawyer

The restrictions of isolation, and the limitless expanse of the sky seem like polar opposites. As I’ve explored these ideas, I’ve come see them as two ends of our experience.

For the past 14 months, separated by necessity from our communities, friends and families, we have coped as best we can, and wait and hope for the pandemic to pass. This experience has changed us all in unexpected ways, challenging our patience, creativity, and our strength. These pieces evoke aspects of the experience of living through this difficult time. 

Isolation, as hard as it has been, has given us a chance to reflect and question our priorities. A small oasis of calm offers room to consider and remember what is most important to us. This time of loss and disconnection is also an opportunity to re-imagine the world as it could be. Can we rebuild a more generous and equitable society that values, cares and supports us all?

Expanse explores the view of the earth from a distance. It challenges us to see beyond the bright lights to a world more complex and nuanced.

My first painting in this series was inspired by a glance out the window of a jet plane as it came in for a landing. I was taken by the beauty of the sky at sunset, and the city illuminated with light.

As I continued to work with these images, I realized that a pattern of lights is like a headline or a sound bite. It just touches the surface. I became intrigued with ambiguity, and it became a metaphor for what we think we see, and what is really there. I wanted the viewer to dig deeper, and hunt for the subtext.

The landscape as it unfolds before us was shaped by evolution over ions, and more recently by centuries of human occupation and exploitation. We’ve come to a tipping point, as our use of fossil fuel, and pollution of the air and water now endangers the existence of life on this beautiful planet.

As we move out of this restricted time, we need to remember that radical change is possible. We just need to commit to making it happen.


I live in an artist live-work building that was once a textile mill in the town of North Adams, MA. Exploring the surrounding mountainous landscape punctuated by rushing rivers and streams, grounds and inspires me. 

I work both in soft pastel, and oil using cold wax medium. While these are very different techniques, they both involve working with pure pigment,  held together by a binder or mixed with oil and wax. I choose to work in one or the other depending on my subject and goals. 

I choose soft pastel for its immediacy, and ability to capture form and light. I start with an under painting establishing the composition, and then begin defining shapes and adding layers of color. I work outside when I can, directly observing the landscape shift with the changing light. I love the luminosity and depth of color I can achieve. 

I began to work with oil and cold wax more recently, after the onset of the pandemic. Working with cold wax has opened up a new process of discovery for me, with great leeway to experiment. I love the resiliency of it offers to work and rework— layering, drawing and scraping back into the surface, uncovering new ideas and techniques. I may start a piece with an intention, or a direction may emerge as the painting progresses. I greatly enjoy the process of painting abstractly and intuitively. 

I have a BFA from the Boston Museum School/Tufts, with additional course work at Bennington College, UMass Boston, and the Museum School. I have exhibited widely, and my work is in many private collections in the US and abroad.

I am a signature member of the Pastel Society of America, and the Pastel Painter’s Society of Cape Cod.


Instagram: dianereedsawyer1