The Outside In

Planting Fields Foundation is pleased to feature the 2022 Catalyst artist, Diana Al-Hadid, and her site-specific installation, The Outside In. Al-Hadid’s outdoor installation will feature in the Taxus Field from Fall 2022 to Fall 2023. Her exhibition opened on Saturday, October 1 with an opening reception at Coe Hall.

Diana Al-Hadid is an artist who recalibrates our relationship with history. Her multilayered and enigmatic creations elicit feelings of both nostalgia and discovery. With The Outside In, AI-Hadid takes four views of a fantastical room found in the Main Residence of Planting Fields and transports them outside into the surrounding naturalistic environment. A familiar place is inverted and what was a room with a view becomes a view with a room.

Al-Hadid first visited Planting Fields in late 2020. Since then, her relationship with the site expanded and evolved while the realities of Covid-19 equally shaped her project. Mai Coe’s bedroom that was originally adorned with the work of Robert Winthrop Chanler, an artist commissioned by the Coe family over a hundred years ago, offered a relevant point of departure for Al-Hadid.This space directly inspired this project because, according to Al-Hadid, it is “a room of complete fantasy that dissolves the walls and brings in the landscape to her bedroom.” With The Outside In, Al-Hadid transports the immersive experience of Mai’s room by creating a room for a tree in a central vantage point of the Taxus Field. At the center of a small mound enclosed by representations of the walls in Mai’s room is a Venus Dogwood, Cornus ‘Venus’. Earlier in 2022 this tree was removed from the Main Entrance to make way for the restoration of the Olmsted-designed formal landscape. Coinciding with Olmsted 200, a national celebration of the bicentennial of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.’s birth, AI-Hadid’s project reflects on the value of the single tree and how it can make or break a landscape design. She elevates and celebrates it, freeing it from being a sum of all parts. Influenced by the unprecedented expanses of time people spent at home, indoors, and often under lock down, isolated from each other and from nature in many instances, The Outside In reflects the isolation we collectively experienced during Covid-19 restrictions. Rooms became confines and nature became the escape.

About the artist:
Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1981 and based today in Brooklyn, Diana Al-Hadid is an internationally featured, award-winning sculpture artist known for her practice that examines the historical frameworks and perspectives that continue to shape discourse on culture and materials today. With a practice spanning sculpture, wall reliefs, and paper works, Al-Hadid weaves together enigmatic narratives that draw inspiration from both ancient and modern civilizations. Her rich allegorical constructions are inspired by historical and religious imagery, ancient manuscripts, female archetypes, and folkloric storytelling. Al-Hadid received a BFA in Sculpture and a BA in Art History from Kent State in 2003, and an MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005. 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 Rockefeller Fellow. Her mosaic murals for New York City’s Penn Station were among 100 finalists for CODA, an international competition honoring commissions that integrate interior, architectural, or public spaces. In 2020, she received The Academy of Arts and Letters Art Award.

Al-Hadid has had solo exhibitions at The Bronx Museum of the Arts (Bronx, NY), The Frist Art Museum (Nashville, TN), the San Jose Museum of Art (San Jose, CA), and the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University (Providence, RI). Abroad, Al-Hadid has had solo exhibitions at the NYU Abu Dhabi University Gallery (Abu Dhabi, UAE) and her work has also been featured at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, Greece. In the United States, her work has been featured in exhibits at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), the Weatherspoon Museum of Art (Greensboro, NC), the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA), and The Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA). In 2018, the artist presented Delirious Matter in Madison Square Park, New York, featuring six female figures. Set between ruin and regeneration, these elusive figures communed to form a kinship of women through the history of art.