Welcome to the Forty Over 40 blog. Every week we spotlight one of our honorees and their thoughts on reinvention, mentorship and momentum…plus a peek into what makes them tick.
This week’s Q & A is with Diane Tuft, Photographer and Global Warming Activist. As a mixed media artist, Diane uses her photography to bring awareness and call attention to the reality of global warming. She’s had her work exhibited at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York and Art L.A.. Diane earned a degree in mathematics at the University of Connecticut and studied art at Pratt Institute, New York.
1. What was a pivotal moment of reinvention for you?
I have always been involved in creating art. I don’t think I ever reinvented myself. Being a wife and mother was quite demanding but I was able to make time for myself. As my children were growing up, art was intertwined in my life. I attended Pratt institute for ten years, took classes at the International Center of Photography, and participated in art workshops every summer.
2. Who has been a valuable mentor or sponsor?
I did not have a sponsor but have been in admiration of women artists who have been able to be recognized in a world where most of the attention has been on male artists. Many female artists were overshadowed by their husbands (i.e. Lee Krasner and Helen Frankethaller) and others were not recognized until later in life (Louise Bourgeois).
3. What is your biggest goal right now?
I have just returned from a month in the Arctic Circle, where I photographed the visual effects of ultraviolet and infrared radiation on the landscape of the Arctic Ocean. I also interviewed several scientists that have been involved with research on climate change and its effects on wildlife and the environment. My goal is to exhibit my work and to publish my third monograph, “The Arctic Melt”. I also want to continue my dialogue on climate change and its effect on our environment.
4. How do you unplug? How often do you unplug?
My husband and family require quite a bit of time and attention. We are constantly traveling and entertaining and art is difficult to incorporate on a day to day basis. In order for me to be able to create, I have had to leave my home environment and completely immerse myself in my art. Once I have completed a project, I can then return home and work on putting together a book, an exhibit, a panel discussion and whatever the project requires.
5. What challenge / achievement are you most proud of?
The National Science Foundation administers an Artists and Writers Grant every 2 years to only 5 Artists and Writers who will document and educate the public on the Antarctic though the arts. William Fox (the writer in my first monograph) suggested that I apply for this grant in 2007. However, because of our economy at the time, the 2009 application was never available. When applications for this grant became available in 2011, I applied and was awarded an Artists and Writers grant from the National Science Foundation to photograph the “Hidden Light” of Antarctica. While living at McMurdo Station (the National Science Foundation’s science research center) for 6 weeks in the Austral Spring of 2012, I traveled throughout the Ross dependency and to the South Pole in order to capture the essence of Antarctica. The harsh environment of Antarctica became a challenge. During this time, the average wind speed in Antarctica is 67 miles/ hour and the average temperature is -32 degrees F. My second monograph, Gondwana; Images of an Ancient Land is the result of this expedition.
6. What cause do you most want to advance?
Since 1998, I have been photographing the visual effects of the environment on the Earth’s landscape. Through visual communication, I have been trying to bring attention to the issue of climate change and global warming on our landscape. Climate Change is having a large impact on the Earth’s environment and on the future lives of humans and wildlife. My photographs highlight the fragility of the Earth’s environment.
7. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice that I have received was to follow your passion no matter how many obstacles are in your path. Within the myriad of responsibilities that a woman needs to endure, it is necessary for a woman to be able to carve out time for herself and follow her passion.
8. What is your “keep me going” quote?
An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing. (Louise Bourgeois)
9. What is your secret indulgence?
My secret indulgence is to watch Indie Movies after 12:00PM on my ipad, in bed, with earphones.
10. Who on the list of prior Honorees would you like to meet?
I would love to meet Jennifer Willig who founded Whole World Water. She is a proactive environmentalist who has taken the problem of clean available water for the world and been pro-active in starting an organization that would address this issue. Not only does her organization address clean water availability but it also addresses the elimination of plastic bottles.
I also am in admiration of Ruth Ann Harnisch whose foundation supports women in film, the arts and in Awesome Without Borders projects.
I would also like to meet Paola Gianturco who has compiled a book to celebrate grandmothers throughout the world and to bring attention to the lives and struggles that occur within these various cultures.
Check out Diane Tuft’s full 40 Over 40 profile here!