Williamstown, Mass.—For her first major public art project, Diana Al-Hadid combines aluminum, steel, fiberglass, concrete, polymer modified gypsum, and pigment in four architecturally scaled sculptures. Delirious Matter, which was commissioned by and exhibited at Madison Square Park in New York, will be on view from September 29, 2018 through March 24, 2019 at sites across the Williams College campus.
Two monumental, yet seemingly, diaphanous wall-like structures, The Grotto and Gradiva, frame the historic façade of Sawyer Library with the rolling mountains in the distance. Subtle female figures in drips of pale greens, browns, and blues emerge from the structures’ pale white surfaces. The solitary Synonym, an enigmatic life-sized figure of a woman, is the only one of the four sculptures that can be seen from passing vehicles on Route 2 traversing Williamstown and receives visitors to Hopkins Hall, the main administration building on campus. In the towering Citadel—located near WCMA, surrounded by dorms, and in proximity to the Old Hopkins Observatory, the oldest extant observatory in the United States—another feminine form materializes from atop the summit of a rough-hewn volcano-like structure. Each of the elements in the exhibition is carefully sited to engage important aspects of Williams history, contemporary campus life, and the unique topography of the area.
“We are excited to bring Diana’s sculptures to the campus of Williams College and to introduce her work to the wider community,” said WCMA Director Pamela Franks. “This project will allow students in particular the opportunity to encounter art during the course of their daily routines, beyond museum walls.”
Al-Hadid, who will give an artist’s talk on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Williams’ Paresky Auditorium, is best known for creating sculptures that pivot among architectural ruin, figuration, and abstraction. Delirious Matter joins great examples of outdoor sculpture on the Williams campus with major works by Louise Bourgeois, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, Jenny Holzer, George Rickey, and others.
“We are excited to bring Diana Al-Hadid’s complex and multifaceted work into dialogue with those that already inhabit our landscape,” said WCMA Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs Lisa Dorin. “Al-Hadid’s work draws on a range of literary, art historical, social, and cultural references that we anticipate will spark curricular connections across disciplines as well.”
“If you look back at old masters, you can extract a lot about the role of women, either encased in a giant pile of fabric or lounging horizontally—dead or fainting or sleeping,” Al-Hadid told The New York Times. In her work, she plays off these historic representations of women in abstract, organic-looking fragmented forms.
Diana Al-Hadid: Delirious Matter was commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York. The installation at Williams College is made possible by a generous gift from Seton Melvin ’82 and the Williams College Public Art Fund, established by the Class of 1961.
Al-Hadid was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1981 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received a B.F.A. in Sculpture and a BA. in Art History from Kent State University in 2003, and an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond in 2005. She also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007.
She has been the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Grant, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, and a Pollock-Krasner Grant. She is also a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow.
Al-Hadid has had solo exhibitions at the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University, Providence, RI, NYU Abu Dhabi University Gallery, Abu Dhabi, UAE, The Vienna Secession in Vienna, Austria, the Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, OH, the Akron Museum of Art, Akron, OH, the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, the Weatherspoon Museum of Art, Greensboro, NC the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX, the Centro de Arte Contemporánea, La Conservera, Murcia, Spain, the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV, and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
Her work is included in collections including the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC. She is represented in New York by Marianne Boesky Gallery.