Awareness Post #4 - Diana al-Hadid

Diana al-Hadid is a Syrian-born contemporary artist based in Brooklyn. She primarily works in sculpture and installation pieces. Much of her work bridges her Western reality and Middle Eastern upbringing. Al-Hadid is also influenced by her identity as a Muslim woman.


Image via  Frist Art Museum


  • BA in Art History from Kent State University in 2003

  • BFA in Sculpture from Kent State University in 2003

  • MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005

Gallery Representation

  • Marianne Boesky Gallery

Her Work is in Collections at…

  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

  • Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Saatchi Collection, London

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

  • Judith Rothschild Foundation, New York

  • DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park

Nolli's Orders , 2012

Nolli's Orders, 2012

“My work isn’t really one decision that’s stable—it’s a lot of interwoven and fluctuating decisions.”
— Diana al-Hadid, Art21
Diana Al-Hadid, “The Arches of Old Penn Station” (2018), image via  Hyperallergic

Diana Al-Hadid, “The Arches of Old Penn Station” (2018), image via Hyperallergic

CV Highlights

  • Jameel Sculpture Commission Finalist, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK - 2016

  • Artist-in-Residence at Siena Art Institute, Siena, Italy - 2014

  • The Joan Mitchell Foundation, Grant for Painters and Sculptors - 2011

  • Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant -2009

  • Vermont Studio Center Residency and Fellowship, Johnson, NY - 2006

  • Sculpture Space Residency in Utica, NY - 2005

I was interested most in al-Hadid’s work since i knew that she graduated from VCU. After looking into her pieces and her process, I found myself really taken with her pieces and her art practice. I have followed her on her Instagram and will be sure to keep up with her career.

Articles and Links

Experience - Lunchtime Lecture with John Freyer

On Wednesday at lunch, John D. Freyer came to give a Lunchtime Lecture. I was not able to attend, but I watched the livestream afterwards at home.

Freyer does conceptual art with a social practice element. He said his work is usually something that the general public does not understand right away. This makes sense as both conceptual art and social practice art can be some of the least accepted or understood, especially by those outside of the art world. Since there is not always fine technical skill, people assume that the work is not as valid or they simply move on because they do not understand it. This is something which I am experiencing a lot with my Senior Show currently on display. People I hear in the hallway either say, “I don’t get it…” or “I have a lot of questions…” or “Oh, that’s interesting!” In navigating this divide, Freyer stated that he usually names his pieces exactly what they are.

Image via  Free Ice Water

Image via Free Ice Water

Another cool aspect of Freyer’s practice is his knowledge from his substance abuse recovery. He uses his art such as “Free Ice Water” to connect people and have them learn from each other. I love this idea and think it’s a really healing. Especially with “Free Ice Water,” his method of completing the art work with the signatures on the water jar and then sending them out into the world is fascinating. Freyer talks about receiving a gift through recovery and then giving back that gift to others.

Image via  John D. Freyer

Image via John D. Freyer

I was also really into Freyer’s project called “All My Life for Sale.” This was such a fascinating art idea. So radical!

Process Post -> Week of 4/8/19

Monday - On the first day back from Spring Break we took a field trip to the Try-Me Gallery. There we learned about private art collections and art collectors.

Wednesday - This was a planning day. We also talked about some Senior Show things.

Friday - This was a short class where we did some more planning. I am thinking about my final project before the big Senior Show.

Process Post -> Week of 3/25/19

On Monday, I worked with Coach Hall to install my video for my critique. We set up the typewriter with the video piece project up from the back and it looked SO GOOD. From there, I realized that I did not love the piece of the video as much that went to black. I am now working on updating the video in order to change that piece,


I have continued to work on my cross stitch piece and am making progress!


Experience - Lunchtime Lecture with Sasha Waters Freyer

Our third quarter Lunchtime Lecture was with filmmaker and the Chair of the Department of Photography and Film at VCU, Sasha Waters Freyer. Freyer attended The School of Visual Arts in NY where she got a BA in photography. She went to graduate school at Temple where she got an MFA in filmmaking. Freyer spoke to us about her art practice and her teaching.

I was particularly interested in how she described the relationship between her personal work as a filmmaker and her Chairship at VCU. Freyer said that teaching is part of what allows her to support her artistic practice. This is something which I do not think about often. Professors of arts are able to use that position to support their own work. They probably also gain lots of insight and inspiration from their students.

Freyer also mentioned how a large part of her process for short films was helped along by attending an artist colony. She went to MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire and was able to get a lot of work done there. I had never heard from someone who had actually been to an artist colony. Thus, it was really cool to hear about her experience there!

Image via  Zimbo

Image via Zimbo

She spoke to us about how the financed the documentary film, Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable, which was of particular interest to me. Freyer said that she financed in a hodgepodge manner. It was a combination of an NEA grant, Kickstarter, and a grant from a documentary foundation. Together, this allowed her to make the film itself. Beyond that, after it had been created and premiered at festivals, PBS wanted to license the film. This gave Freyer and her team a payment from PBS which was able to raise additional funds.

Freyer also noted that documentaries take much longer to make than her shorter, experimental work. They are also collaborative as opposed to her short films which are done mostly independently.

When talking about her short 16mm films, Freyer said some interesting things. She noted that the medium of film is her artistic medium of choice and it IS an artistic medium. Her short films focus on what is different, not normal, and not obvious. Freyer has a painterly attention to color and form combined with poetry. This and the fact that her work is more personal sets her apart from other artists.

Below is the trailer for Freyer’s most recent feature.

Sasha Waters Freyer’s Website

Articles, Links, and Interviews

Process Post -> Week of 3/18/19

I got some good ideas about my video piece and have been putting those into action during class time this week.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 11.26.28 AM.png

At home, I have been stitching away on my cross stitch piece. It takes forever to stitch and will take a while to complete it and get the words that I want in the middle. Luckily, I have twelve hours of time on the train to NYC over spring break to get a good dent in on the work.


Awareness Post #3 - Martine Syms

Martine Syms is a 31 year old artist based in Los Angeles, California. She works primarily in the mediums of video and performance art. Syms’ work focuses on black identity, queer theory, and feminist thought. She uses the term “conceptual entrepreneur” to describe her practice. Syms’ practice is research-based.


I’m interested in the economy of words and forms: jokes, aphorisms, copywriting, advertising, that way of writing when meaning has to be squeezed into as few words as possible.
— Martine Syms in The New York Times Style Magazine

Gallery Representation

  • Syms is represented by Bridget Donahue Gallery in New York City.

  • Syms is represented by Sadie Coles HQ in London.

  • Her distribution is managed by Video Data Bank in Chicago.


  • BFA in Film, Video, and New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007

  • MFA from Bard College in 2017

Select Places Her Work Has Been Shown

  • The Broad

  • Museum of Modern Art

  • MOMA PS1

  • ICA London

  • Hammer Museum

  • New Museum


Image via  Hammer

Image via Hammer

My insistence on making my exhibition spaces also resemble sites of production is connected to two things: First is the idea that I don’t really think of things as ever being done, and so visually, I want it to be a space where something happens. Second, it connects to this idea of everyone’s ability to record everything, so the exhibition is already a space of production. People are going to be taking pictures and recording videos in there, and through the iOS app itself they can also produce images.
— Martine Syms in Conversation with Artforum

CV Highlights

  • Founder of Dominica Publishing

  • Recipient of 2017 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant

  • 2018 Graham for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Fellow

  • First solo museum exhibit in May of 2017 at MOMA called Projects 106: Martine Syms

  • Syms has lectured at places including SXSW, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, and California Institute of the Arts

Aesthetically, I really enjoy Syms’ work. Her colors and her design are absolutely stellar. I also like her use of text and video in her pieces. I aspire to her level of expertise with the medium.

Further Reading and Links

Connect - Seminar on Social Practice Art

Questions Sparked by the Articles:

  • How can artists make social practice art that avoids white saviorism or a colonialist mindset?

    • In that way, is it possible for artist who do not share the identities and experiences of the people who the social practice art aimed at to make this style of art?

  • Does art always belong in a museum or institute?

  • What are some positives and negatives of this form of art?

I am most drawn to this type of art because of the way that it bucks the system. The article by Randy Kennedy mentioned that institutions struggle when it comes to the question of, “How can you present art that is rarely conceived with a museum of exhibition in mind, for example community projects, often run by collaboratives, that might go on for years, inviting participation more than traditional art appreciation?” (Kennedy) However, to me this is exactly what makes social practice art so appealing. The style overturns the capitalist notion that art must feed into the national or international art market in order to be valuable or important. Art and artists that are groundbreaking is often decided by how much a piece can make at Sotheby’s or Christie’s. Beyond, that it is decided by how large of an institution the piece is held in. Is it the Guggenheim? The Tate? All institutions which greatly profit from the holding and public showing of this art. This kind of art is impossible to fit into that capitalist art market mold. Thus, it is taking the impact and appreciation of art to a great level.

...we wanted to start envisioning art more broadly, as a place where ideas can happen and action might be able to take place
— Kristina Van Dyke, as quoted in "Outside the Citadel, Social Practice Art Is Intended to Nurture" by Randy Kennedy

The one thing which I am wary of in regards to social practice art, is the manner in which it is carried out. I can see ways in which this type of art could be quickly made into a way for white people, people with money, and other privileged individuals sweep into less privileged communities and attempt to “save them” or the like. Artists who work in this field of art must be vigilant and constantly make sure that they are not speaking down to those who may benefit from an art project. In my opinion, for social practice art to work, it must be striving for some kind of state of equality or lifting up. This cannot be done when the artist or group putting on the project is patronizing and hinges on someone being a savior. This somewhat gets at the idea discussed in the article by Carolina Miranda of how social practice art should be critiqued. It is definitely not easy to discuss and critique, but this does not mean that it should not be approached with the same level of analysis as a painting. Especially since human lives are involved.

As agents of change, social-practice projects can seem wanting: the scale is often small, the works are temporary, and success may depend on the charisma of a single artist. On an esthetic level, they can also be befuddling, perceived as too much like community organizing to feel truly like art.
— Carolina Miranda, "How the Art of Social Practice Is Changing the World, One Row House at a Time"

However, when carried out carefully and thoughtfully, social practice art is art at its best. Many people put there definition of art somewhere along the lines of something to make the world more beautiful or a better place. Social practice art is a form that can easily do both of those things. It can connect people, form communities, improve lives, and share a message of hope. This is incredibly important. While all art should does not need to be social practice art, social practice art deserves a respected place in the canon of art forms and art making practices.

Process Post -> Week of 3/11/19

This week, I continued to edit my video piece. Coach Hall and I spoke about editing choices in terms of the color, sound, and framing of the shots. I have some new ideas that I plan to put into place next week in our final two studio days.

At home, I have kept on cross stitching. It is surprisingly labor intensive and takes forever to get even a little bit done. While it may not seem like I have done a lot, what is shown in that photo is probably a combined 5-8 hours of work. I am also new at this and a perfectionist, so that is slowing down my process.


Process Post -> Week of 3/4/19

This week in class I worked on planning for my Critique #6 and working on starting my home project.

For Critique #6, I am working on editing a video piece of typing the manifesto which I hung on the wall.

For my home project, I am working on my cross stitch piece. This week I got my materials together and am about to begin stitching. I have not done this before, so I also gathered some resources (linked below) to help me along.

Process Post -> Week of 2/18/19

This week I kept typing and typing away. As I was working, I started to realize that a lot of the piece itself was about the action of typing, not a perfect final product. In that mindset, I did not worry about mistakes and let them be a part of the work. I also took some audio and video of the typewriter sounds and of me typing on it. On Friday, I will install the piece.


Process Post -> Week of 2/11/19

This week I was sick on Monday, so I missed one studio day. That means I will definitely have to work pretty hard and maybe stay after school some days next week to finish this project before the due date. I may take it home this weekend. We finally got the paper worked out on Wednesday and I began to type up the final piece. I think I started the typing a bit too low down the page, but that’s ok. At least it’s started!

Process Post -> Week of 2/4/19

This week I worked on getting together the materials for the typing of The Woman-Identified Woman Manifesto. The typewriter is working totally well. However, I am having lots of trouble finding paper to use for this. I have tried lots of different resume papers, but they all had watermarks or were too thick. Thus, I am still struggling to get some paper, but hopefully we can work it out. Once we get the correct paper, I will be ready to go!

Awareness Post #2 - Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer is a neo-contemporary artist. She is 68 years old and has been working since the late 1970s. Holzer’s work mainly focuses on the display of ideas and words. Many of her pieces employ a public element. For example, she often projects words on buildings, posts flyers, uses billboards, and LED signs.

Holzer was interested in art from her childhood. However, she lost much of her interest and confidence as a teenage. When she regained this, she wanted to be an abstract painter. Holzer is highly educated and has taken many art classes and has multiple degrees. In 1976 she moved to New York City to be a part of the Whitney Independent Study Program. This was when she began her earliest work with text. It was then, in the late 70s in New York City, that she began to receive attention for her work.


  • Duke University - general art courses

  • University of Chicago - classes in painting, printmaking, and drawing

  • Ohio University - BFA in 1972

  • Rhode Island School of Design - MFA in 1975


Gallery Representation

  • I was unable to find any specific gallery representation for Holzer. For a long time, her work was “shown” outside of galleries and museums. It was her original intent to make art outside of those contexts and assessable to the public. She began as a street artist.

Going from the street to the museum partly came from the need and desire to be a better artist.
— Jenny Holzer, via The Art Story

CV Highlights

  • Holzer’s work is in collections at Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, among others.

  • Golden Lion Award for work in the 1990 Venice Biennale

  • Blair Award from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982

  • Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum in 1996

Inflammatory Essays , lithograph on paper, image: 431 x 431 mm, Tate, purchased 1983, P77391

Inflammatory Essays, lithograph on paper, image: 431 x 431 mm, Tate, purchased 1983, P77391

The idea of text being one of the main drivers of an artistic piece is something which I enjoy. I have much of this in my own work, and hope to continue creating pieces in this style.

I don’t see so many young people addressing social circumstance, or ecological circumstance, or economic circumstance through art today.
— Jenny Holzer, via The Art Story

I love her reaction (in the above video) to being asked in this video if she “is still a feminist in the current era.”

Further Reading and Videos

Experience - Lunchtime Lecture with Kirk O'Brien

Today we had Kirk O’Brien, a Richmond cartoonist, come to give a Lunchtime Lecture. Kirk gave a talk titled “The Role of Government in Comics.” I have heard Kirk talk about something similar in the past, but I felt that I learned a lot of new things from this talk as well. The talk took the same jumping off point that I had previously learned about, this is the Comic Code Authority. The Comic Code Authority was a group, separate from the government, who began self-regulating comics. The CCA had a very strict set of guidelines on what they considered to merit the seal of approval. Much of this push for CCA seals out of fear for the minds of the young people reading the comic books.

Image via  TeePublic

Image via TeePublic

Before today, I had not know that the creation of the CCA and push for “G” rated comics only is often linked to the start of a series of Senate hearings lead by Estes Kefauver. As I learned through researching it, these hearings specific to the comic books occured in 1954. The Senate hearings lead by Estes Kefauver as a part of the United States Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. The group of people in the Senate who spearheaded these hearings believed that the graphic “crime and horror” shown in the comic books of the time period was contributing to the higher rates of juvenile delinquency.

Image via  Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

I thought that Kirk gave a measured assessment of the CCA and the Senate hearings. He talked about how the two most definitely qualify as censorship. This was a bad thing when it meant that the censorship by the CCA specifically targeted comics showing Black people, LGBTQIA+ people, and other marginalized or deemed “unseemly” and objectionable groups. However, Kirk also pointed out that some of the comic books were rather graphic (for example the cover above where a man is shown in opioid withdrawal) and these themes or images may have been upsetting or too mature for young kids. I agree with Kirk. I do think there is an important distinction to be drawn between the outright censoring (not allowing them to be published) of content and the warnings for content that may be upsetting for some. As well, I had not wondered what happened to the CCA. Someone at the lecture asked this question, and I thought that it was a good point. Kirk told us that the CCA was basically dead by the 1990s and fully faded out by 2010. Overall, I am not really a comic fan and have very little interest in the artform, but I found it pretty cool to hear about the role of government and censorship in this realm of the art world!

Process Post -> Week of 1/13/19

This week we had a snow day on Monday. During the snow day, I used the time to choose the text and then size and place the pieces. I traced them using graphite. On our Wednesday studio day, I started painting the unicorn. On Friday, I continued painting the unicorn and adding the rainbow glitter dashes. On Saturday, I added the colored glitter stripes.

I still need some help with making the canvas stretched properly if we get the time or knowledge. Otherwise, all good!