Dian Martin Benson: The Passion of a Good Woman Dreaming

Paintings 1990-1993

In his book, “An Art Of Our Own”, Roger Lipsey wrote that Kandinsky’s paintings resemble the “passion of a good man dreaming.” Dian Martin Benson knows it’s “a presumption for me to think of myself as a good woman, but in my art I try to explore that goodness that I see in and around me…” It does not seem surprising that Ms. Benson’s abstract paintings emanate this reflective passion of one good woman dreaming.

Ms. Benson’s primary interest is color. Due to her use of mainly iridescent pigments her canvasses and collages vibrate with a translucency comparable to the radiance of Byzantine mosaics. The soft glow of mostly pastel-tone colors imbues her works with an ephemeral quality and surrounds them with an aura reminiscent of light-filled Baroque churches.

The grid represents the module of most of Ms. Benson’s paintings. The artist traces this characteristic to her penchant for weaving. During the late 1970’s Dian Martin Benson first began experimenting with woven collages. From these the Woven Paintings developed. Painted strips of canvas with variable widths are woven into a grid of colors with similar hues. The Woven Paintings are complemented by more recent canvasses with collaged grids.

A committed and experienced art educator, Dian Martin Benson is teaching at Manchester Junior/Senior High School and taught painting during her prior engagement at Phillips Exeter Academy, from 1977-1985. In 1986 the artist was invited to hold a retrospective exhibition in the Gallery of Northern Essex Community College. The current exhibition marks Ms. Benson’s invitational at the Bromfield Gallery.

Christina Lanzl, 1993
Bromfield Gallery
Member, Boston Art Dealers Association


Dian Martin [Benson] paints her canvas weavings as abstractedly as possible, concentrating primarily on color. She works in an intuitive fashion by taking each section and painting the colors individually. In each of her pieces [she] expresses the feelings from one of her life experiences. “I like weaving because I feel the experiences of my life are also interwoven,” explained Martin.

In “Fog Muted” Martin has diffused her colors to portray the fog rolling over the landscape. In contrast, “Nice Device” exhibits bright, crisp colors painted in different squares across the strips of canvas. Said one student, “I liked the abstractness and strong colors. Her painting gave off a sense of liveliness and energy.”

Cindy Cameros, 1984
The Exonian


She will be remembered for her large tonal and painterly canvases of the 1970s, which were inspired by American color field painting and the Abstract Expressionists, and gave the impression of tremendous optical depth that the spectator could enter only with their eyes. In the 1980s these works gave way to a more linear, taut and spatially shallow form of abstraction that played with the material surface through texture and weaving. After her marriage to Frank Benson in 1991 her work became an open color experiment with the grid and the square, leading to many notable smaller canvases often shown in groups to create an overall range of emotional response.
She was, throughout her life as an artist, devoted to color as a medium of expression and interior feelings, and passionately believed that the achievement of integrity and quality in the arts was not barred by one’s gender. In 2014 she was the subject of a documentary film ‘Inside Out: Dian Martin Benson’ which is available on Youtube. She was forever compelled to explore her emotions through color, and to cover them over again.

Obituary, 2015

All images copyrighted/Website by Andy Martin