Right Brain: Diane Harty
In a studio tucked behind Tuscato’s in Frisco, hatmaker Diane Harty shows her work locally. The Ophir Mountain resident travels to high-end, juried craft shows with her original hats and recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for a show at the Smithsonian.Harty, the mother of a 4-year-old daughter and wife of local musician Mark Schlaefer, has been in the county for nearly 10 years. She said she’s been doing the art full-time since she moved to the state, but suspects the community isn’t aware of her.”I travel to shows all over the country, but I don’t even think people know I’m here,” she said.Harty began the millinery work by making hats from old clothes with an antique chainstitch sewing machine. She said she creates the shape as she stitches, using the tension with her hands. “I approach each hat like a sculpture,” she said.
What are your dreams/what would you like to do with your art? To keep pushing myself to explore new shapes, ideas and materials – trying to create both quality and innovative objects for people. What does art give you/why do you do it?I have always enjoyed making things, using my hands. There is a sense of satisfaction when something really turns out well. I enjoy interacting with customers and seeing their reaction to the hats and how they feel when they put them on. I believe hats have a transformative quality, a person can “travel” to another part of themselves or become someone else when they put on a hat. It can be expanding. What do you try to convey through your art?
A simplicity, yet playfulness. An ability to change yourself, your mood. There is so much seriousness and complexity in life and I like to think of my hats as making smiles happen. What is/has been your biggest challenge, and how do/did you deal with it?Balancing family and work, and keeping the business side of it all functioning without taking all my time. What are you most proud of regarding your art (and/or greatest accomplishment)?I am grateful that I have been able to make a living at it without compromising the vision of what I want to make.
How do you stay fresh/motivated?I enjoy books a lot, even literary novels can inspire a visual. I try to look around me and see all the shapes and beauty of my surroundings. What do you do when you’re not making art?Hang out with my family and bike and telemark and read.
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