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Gratitude For One Of NCLR’s Unsung Heroes

by Margaret Bauer, Editor

Diane Rodman, Art Editor

Did you like the art featured with your poem, essay, or short story in an issue of NCLR or NCLR Online? Are you an artist I contacted out of the blue to ask if we might feature your art with a poem, essay, or short story? While I am the person who usually hears the first expression of gratitude for just the right art complementing someone’s creative writing, I am only the front person in these cases. We all have NCLR’s Art Editor Diane Rodman to thank for the art selected to appear in our pages. Even art she doesn’t directly select has very likely been brought to my or another staff member’s attention at some point by Diane. 

Diane Rodman (right) with the Editor and Art Director at NCLR’s 25th anniversary celebration, 2016

Diane has been selecting art for NCLR since the 2007 issue, her role as Art Editor increasing significantly when we added NCLR Online issues in 2012. I don’t know how she does it, but I have inferred from her emails over the years that she does a lot of research, not just into North Carolina art, but also into the writers whose words she is seeking to complement with fine art.  

To complement, not illustrate, is her first and I think primary criteria as she plays matchmaker between the written word and visual art. Sometimes, when she sends me the art selections, she explains to me how an abstract piece, for example, reflects the tone and/or theme of a poem or story. Always, this explanation is fascinating to me, but always too, when I ask if I might share that with our readers or at least the writers, No, she responds. Let the readers have their own experience of the pairing. 

This reticence is why I am writing this entry of our Editors’ (plural possessive) blog. And because she’s busy with selecting art for the fall issue of NCLR Online AND for the 2024 issue’s feature section on Disability Literature AND . . . It might surprise you to hear that Diane actually retired some years ago now – from teaching at ECU. Thank goodness she wanted to stay on as Art Editor. I don’t know what I would do without her. 

Many an artist has asked how Diane found their work. I have no answer for them either, other than that she has been exploring galleries, museums, and artists’ websites for NCLR for over fifteen years and for her own pleasure for much longer than that. I keep her apprised of upcoming themes so that she can start early making lists of appropriate artists. As it turns out, North Carolina is not only “the writingest state” but also rich with visual artists in a variety of media. 

I would be remiss in expressing my gratitude to Diane for all she does for NCLR if I did not tell you all that, in addition to selecting art, she is one of our major proofreaders and fact-checkers! (Many of the errors she brings to my attention clearly come from looking something up, not just cursory proofreading.) 

I am so very grateful for all she does. 

L to R: Margaret Bauer, James Applewhite, and Diane Rodman at the City Art Gallery during one of several exhibits inspired by Applewhite’s forthcoming NCLR poems (a project initiated by Diane)