About the Artist

Dian Martin Benson (1935-2015)

Dian in studio

Dian Martin was born and raised in Michigan where she graduated with a major in English and Education from the University of Michigan. Her large acrylic paintings often reflect the colors and textures of the lakes, fields and woods she loved as a child. “I read a book a day during summer vacation, often perched in a tree or anchored in our rowboat on the lake.” The work also reflects that lifelong interest in literature. The work is always nonsubjective.

“I must have been born an abstract artist. In junior high school our art teacher asked us to paint a still-life. I ‘interpreted’ it. She was livid. That was when I became a closet artist. I painted like crazy, but put it away. In my twenties I began to take evening art classes and found it was OK to be abstract. Frankly, I am still sensitive about showing my work. I am learning to overcome my fear.”

While raising three boys she continued to take drawing and painting classes. In the 1970s studying under Mitchell Jamieson, she graduated with a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Maryland and then attended Graduate School in Studio Art until the family’s move to Massachusetts in 1975. It was then that she opened her studio to a few private students. In 1977 she began teaching painting at Phillips Exeter Academy where she remained until 1986. ”That was a time of great adventure for me. I loved sharing whatever I was learning at the moment with my students. We supported one another. For me art is a way of living my life, not just the time I spend in my studio.” Dian showed her paintings in several shows while teaching at Phillips Exeter Academy.

During the summer of 1985 Dian taught a workshop in which meditation and silence were an important part of the art experience. “My work has changed so much lately, the size, the medium, the color. I have been making collage, a medium that suits my interest in color and texture. Change can create anxiety, but I have learned to embrace change; much as I loved the changes of season as a child. After all, my work is nothing but a continuous redefinition of the life I am living.”

As an artist and a teacher, a parent and a wife, Dian balanced living in two worlds: the practical, material outer world and the inner world of the dreamer and the spirit, which motivated her art. “For many years, finding a visual vocabulary for this inner world has been both a passion and a tyranny. For me, color, light and texture are the elements that have made this expression possible. It is my hope that others find a meditative quality in the work allowing them access to a spiritual place.”

Exhibition History

Meadow-Rights-cropSolo Exhibitions
1986 An Exhibit of Work by Dian Martin, Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, Massachusetts.
1987 Dian Martin Paintings, Merrimack College, Andover, Massachusetts.
1987 Paintings and Collage by Dian Martin, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Group Exhibitions
1973 Influx-Combined Media, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.
1978 Exeter-Andover Art Faculty Show, Lamont Gallery, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire.
1980 Faculty Show, Lamont Gallery, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire.
1984 Recent Work by the Art Faculty, Lamont Gallery, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire.
1986 Faculty Show, Lamont Gallery, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire.
1993 A Good Woman Dreaming, Bromfield Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts.
1993 Massachusetts Art Teachers’ Exhibit, New England School of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts.
1998 Solos and Duets, Inside Outside Gallery, Newton, Massachusetts.
1999 Red, Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1999 Gridworks, Hera Gallery, Wakefield, Rhode Island.

Publications and Reviews
1984 Cindy Cameros, Review of “Recent Work by the Art Faculty”, Phillips Exeter Academy Newspaper, Exeter, New Hampshire.
1993 Christina Lanzl, Dian Martin Benson: The Passion of a Good Woman Dreaming, Paintings 1990-1993, Bromfield Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts.
2014 Dian Benson: Inside Out, 30 minute documentary film, Youtube

1993, Meadow Rites, First Prize for Mixed Medium 3D, Massachusetts Art Teachers’ Exhibit, New England School of Art and Design.


Floral II_Watercolor_8X8_2012
Public Collections:
Familiar Garden, 1972, 64”x92”, Northern Essex Community College, 1986.
Private Collections:
Andrew and Jean Martin
Timothy Martin
Frank Martin
Joan and Collin Clipstone
Tom and Ginny Scott
Helen Gardener
Vance and Kathy Koven
Scott and Sally Leonhardt
Phyllis Lowber
Robert and Cindy Hucksam

All images copyrighted/Website by Andy Martin