By: Maria Manuela
As Diana Casey explores the hills, meadows and mountains around her high desert home, she takes notice of certain things around her — the texture of rocks in the arroyo bed, or the particular hue that bathes the city in orange light as it dips behind the horizon. Then, she returns to her home studio, sits at her loom and weaves her memories into cloth.
After visiting New Mexico for the first time, Diana was inspired by the landscapes and colors. She wanted to hold onto those memories when she traveled home to New York in the cold, dark winter. “A lot of my weavings are inspired by New Mexico colors. It was a few years ago that I first came here and I was so sad to leave. I wove the colors as memories for myself ... I guess it’s like keeping the memory of certain colors alive.”
Petal pink, lavender, cream, maroon, pale yellow and sky blue are some of the shades that appear throughout her weaving. “I think we have such an emotional response to colors, we feel them. So it feels very therapeutic to just use them. Certain colors remind me of something, and it takes me back to that memory.” She creates sunsets with warm watermelon-toned suns against the deep blue that blankets the sky at dusk. Framed in fluffy wool clouds, they’re as beautiful as the real thing.
Diana weaves odes to nature, which she credits as her constant inspiration. The yellow Chamisa that covers Santa Fe in the fall sparked her imagination, and she was thrilled to find yellow yarn, the perfect hue to represent the Chamisa in her pieces. Some of her weavings have tassels, or bits with bunchy texture that look like a tactile dream. “The really textural pieces are inspired by rocks. I know they appear a lot softer, but I really connect that in this abstract way.”
“I think we have such an emotional response to colors, we feel them. So it feels very therapeutic to just use them. Certain colors remind me of something, and it takes me back to that memory.”
When she left Brooklyn — where she grew up — in November 2017, she did so seeking a more nature-centric environment. Now she lives in Santa Fe with her husband George, who owns Lost Padre Records, and she’s working to master new weaving techniques. She takes classes at the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center and recently moved to working on a floor loom. “There’s a really great community of ladies there ... it’s definitely a really cool group of people.”
During Diana’s freshman year of college at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Sept. 11 happened; it took her art in a heavy direction. She was majoring in painting at the time, and the tragedy permeated her work. “I haven’t been painting. My paintings are a lot about anxiety and the modern world and weapons.” It’s something she hopes to go back to someday, but weaving is her love right now. She sees Zen in her craft. “A lot of people talk about weaving as therapeutic, and I do think that’s true. It’s almost like a meditation.”
Her first show was at Dandelion Guild in Santa Fe this fall, and she has just released her website – astralweaves.com – where you can keep an eye on her upcoming projects or reach out for a commissioned piece. Her work is best experienced in person, so you can see each fiber in the high-quality wool, and appreciate the dimension and texture she creates. Diana says having her work at Dandelion Guild where people could interact with it in person made her want to show her work more often. So, she’s working on having another show sometime soon. Don’t miss it.
About the author: Maria was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she currently lives and works as a freelance journalist. She wrote several 2017 cover stories in the Santa Fe Reporter, and had a former column called Bed Head, which focused on New Mexico-based fashion. She also makes clothing and sells curated vintage through her online shop, Heirmana. Over the past year, Maria has become more and more dedicated to telling women's stories, as she feels it is the best work she can do during this time of change, awakening, and female empowerment. She highlights women who are inspiring movements, breeding positivity, and spreading supportive messages to other women through their art, music, food, design, writing, and more.