For Dayna Talbot, the process is the art—a process that is rooted in slowing down, wrapping, tying, cutting, sewing, binding, allowing each piece to evolve on its own. Sometimes that process is expressed in prints or paintings, sometimes in sculpture. We all know where we were on September 11, 2001 when the news broke of the attack on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Talbot happened to be at the hospital that day for a few tests, so she wasn’t at her job as a United Airlines flight attendant. She lost many friends and colleagues that day.
“Since 9/11, I’ve just felt bombarded and needed to find that quiet space,” Talbot says. Art has given her a way to both find and express the conflict between balance and chaos in the modern world. When United Airlines offered flight attendants the opportunity to take a leave of absence, Talbot decided, at the age of 50, to enroll at MassArt and earn a BFA. During this time, her artwork referenced 9/11 and the healing process. During her graduate program (she received her MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design in 2016), she began to think of her artwork more conceptually, and began researching the connection between spirituality and artistic process. “Allowing myself to become vulnerable to a new way of producing work meant accepting the chaos that comes with life and the unknown.”
Talbot describes herself as working and thinking fast, with one of those brains that’s always going a mile a minute. She feels the need to take life more slowly—to take hold of right now. “How much quality can you put into something when you’re just so busy?” Talbot asks, making the hand gesture for checking things off a list.
“It started when I was trying to paint a landscape and depict a meditative state,” she continues. “It didn’t work for me. My mind was racing. I started using other things to make marks—strings and sticks—and these unconventional tools slowed me down. It was such a struggle for me. I was so frustrated. Then I decided to weave all those mark-making tools together into a wall hanging, and it worked. The process of tying and wrapping became the meditation.” Allowing myself to become vulnerable to a new way of producing work meant accepting the chaos that comes with life and the unknown.” Today, Talbot works from her New Hampshire studio and exhibits her work around the country. In 2017, her sculptural work was featured in a solo exhibition, “Cross Connections,” at Galletly Gallery, New Hampton School, New Hampshire.
Talbot continues to seek the calm within the storm, the still place within the present moment. “As you go through the aging process, you start reflecting on these things. I feel like it’s time to heal the old wounds and just move forward. That’s why I’m stepping back from a lot of things, to just slow down and enjoy the process of living. That’s where I feel the work is going as well.”