Diana Al-Hadid is a large-scale sculpture artist whose work is heavily inspired by those of the past. Overall, Diana’s talk sheds led light on the artist’s process and how they make certain decisions when creating their work. In this interview, I was particularly drawn to Diana’s candid speech. She was not afraid to admit that she is uncertain, sometimes doubting herself as well as her work. Diana’s honesty about the difficult times that students, artists, and the public at large are currently facing and her reflection as a time as a student fostered a personable interview experience. For Diana, her studio is a meditative and safe space where she can decide which decisions she wants to make, when to make them and how long how quick to make them. It’s a place for mental health where she can exercise her most intuitive impulses and work her problems out.

polymer gypsum, fiberglass, steel, plaster, gold leaf, pigment
58 x 64 x 3 inches
147.3 x 162.6 x 7.6 cm
Photo Credit: Jason Wyche

As an art history student, this was an extremely engaging talk for me. Many of Diana’s works are inspired by ancient and contemporary artworks, such as early Christian art and Dadaism. I was particularly interested in her discussion of art history as a vehicle for inspiration. In her own pursuits as an artist, Diana has no allegiance to portraying a deposition or annunciation or any events such as these.

“I have no interest in … making another one of those paintings. But I am interested in how painters throughout the centuries tell those same stories over and over again”

Annunciation scenes in the canon of Western history, for instance, all depict the same subject but they all look radically different in terms of the gravity, composition, and the grid behind the images (how flat the space is and what colors they use). In doing so, each artist is imprinting their own artistic signature on a trope they have to paint with because they’re living in a predominantly Christian. Artists are commissioned to do these things, whether they believe it or not; and that’s what Diana is doing. When referencing works such as these, she is trying to find her individual footprint within certain tropes that are hard to break because they are so deeply cemented in contemporary western culture. For Diana, it is about finding alternative narratives and focusing on certain aspects of the story using her own unique style.