Diana Al-Hadid

MFA, 2005

Diana Al-Hadid was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1981 and currently lives works in Brooklyn, New York.


Working with a variety of materials, Al-Hadid creates monumental sculptures, drawings, and panels, all of which blur the lines between figuration and abstraction. Her work references history by drawing influence from disrupted typologies found in architecture, antiquity, cosmology and Old Master paintings.


Diana Al-Hadid received a BFA in sculpture and a BA in Art History from Kent State University in 2003, and an MFA 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 USA Rockefeller Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, and a Pollack-Krasner Grant. Her work is included in such influential collections as 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, The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC, and The Judith Rothschild Foundation, New York, NY. Al-Hadid has had solo exhibitions at OHWOW Gallery, West Hollywood, CA, The Vienna Secession in Vienna, Austria, the Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, OH, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY, 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.  Al-Hadid has an upcoming solo exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi’s University Gallery.

Photo Credit: Sarah Trigg

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What have you been up to since graduating from VCU?

It’s been 10 years, so I’ve been up to a lot of different things! But mostly I’ve been making work- sculptures, drawings, and more recently, panels. My first few years out I was busy going to residencies, applying for grants, taking odd jobs, moving around, setting up studios, building walls, living on bagels and coffee, making plans, meeting people, seeing art, making new friends, doing research, learning about taxes. More recently, I’ve been learning to have others help in my studio, setting up a business, eating real food, traveling, meeting students, seeing art, making plans, getting married, having a baby…

What advice would you give a current VCU Sculpture student?

Work really hard and try everything… (wash/rinse/repeat) Make friends. Be careful not to be sidetracked by what others think you are interested in… Instead try to really pay attention to what gets your attention.

How did VCU prepare you for your current situation?

Mostly by giving me a support network of artist friends and incredible teachers that would be a resource for me for years. I am still good friends with many people I went to school with, and am still in touch with my professors who I am still learning from today. VCU taught me how to pay attention to what my work needs and when it needs it. It taught me how to pace myself, how to aim directly at my curiosities, how to make the most of what I have of materials/time/resources, and it taught me to ask for more space in my work and in my life.

How do you define success?

There are all different kinds of “success” (defined simply as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”). The best ones to focus on are the internal, small successes. For example: being committed to your pursuits, investing in yourself, being good to people, learning more, being sincere. In general, “success” is happening when you are feeling sometimes happy as a result of getting something you wanted for your good work. I start to feel cringey around the clichés that surround the word success, and especially when used in the art world, which is usually a shelter from the linear thinking and material pressures of the rest of the world. It’s easier (and perhaps more accurate) to measure success in small, more flexible, bits. I try to think about getting small things right (enough) than to think about success as something “achieved” at the end of a long
“finish line.”

Why did you decide to study sculpture?

I wanted to learn how to manage and create space in my work and in my life. And I was fascinated by materials and suspected that that was where ideas came from. I wanted to build things and study how things are made from scratch. It seemed like the most versatile thing to study, with the perfect blend of logical and irrational.

Is there a question we should ask you, but didn’t?

There’s no “should” here.. 🙂