Dianna Frid headshot

Dianna Frid

Visual Artist
2018 3Arts Awards
Visual Arts

Dianna Frid was born in Mexico City, and emigrated to Vancouver, Canada at the age of fifteen. She has lived and worked in Chicago since 1999 and is presently a Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). English is Dianna Frid's second language and Spanish is her mother tongue. Because of this, her work flourishes when translation—in the broader sense—is given room to expand. Frid believes that translation allows us to see the world enriched by a range of angles and idioms.

With her recent work, Frid examines the relationships between material texts and textiles. The Latin root of these words is texere: “to weave.” This etymology illuminates how weaving is a seven-thousand-year-old method of coding akin to writing. Her approach to making is technically closer to drawing and needlework than it is to weaving, and it embraces the interconnected experiences of the linguistic, the visual, and the physical in ways that cloth has done across time. Thread, as Frid uses it, lends itself to re-invigoration without losing its connections to important feminist lineages of craft.

 

In understanding craft and art as interrelated disciplines, Frid engages with their correspondences in a non-hierarchical way. She sees this as a political position.

Frid's work helps us encounter material and conceptual practices openly. It invites us to appreciate in them the experiment in which sensuality and thinking are not perceived as binaries: they emerge together and help us thrive.

 

To see more of her work, visit her website.

To see a selection of videos of her artist's books, visit her Vimeo page

 

 

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Profile caption: In the portrait above, Dianna Frid sits near a work from the “Words from Obituary” series. The piece, now in private collection, is called “NYT, OCT. 6, 2015, VIVIAN STROMBERG" Profile image by: Photo by Jen Bervin

Featured Artworks

  •  A diptych with two different semi-hidden phrases that say’ “There is no other way to look at this” and “There is another way to look at this.” The only thing that changes is one letter and its order, and everything shifts. Some of the text is in reverse There Is and There Is Not (diptych) The transcriptions are: “There is no other way to look at this” and “There is another way to look at this” // The only thing that changes is one letter and its order, and as a result, everything shifts in meaning. The reversal of the text contributes to Photo by Tom Van Eynde From the Text-Textiles series // 2022 // Muslin, embroidery floss, graphite, gesso, board // 30 x 18 inches each //
  •  A one of a kind artist's book with dispersed transcriptions from an excerpt from James Baldwin’s essay “Nothing Personal.” The text is embroidered on aluminum and copper leaf which has been collaged on linen, and on pink and black cloth. Songbook #1 (after James Baldwin) 2021 // Cotton canvas, cloth, linen,  bamboo fabric, embroidery floss, aluminum foil, and copper, aluminum, and silver leaf // Closed: 12 x 10 inches Open: 12 x 21 inches Photo by Tom Van Eynde Unique artist's book. The text is a transcription from James Baldwin's essay 'Nothing Personal'
  •  A one of a kind artist's book with dispersed transcriptions from Helene Cixous essay "The Laugh of the Medusa." The text is embroidered on aluminum and pewter leaf which has been collaged on cloth with red dot patterns. Songbook # 2 (after Helene Cixous) 2021 // Canvas, cloth, thread with pewter, aluminum, and silver leaf // Closed 12 x 10 inches; Open 12 x 21 inches Photo by Tom Van Eynde Unique artist's book. The text is a transcription from Helen Cixous' essay 'The Laugh of the Medussa': I too overflow. My desires have invented new desires. My body knows unheard of songs.
  •  A diptych featuring the poem 'Fire and Ice' by Roberts Frost. The poem is shown twice, on the left is is transcribed with Blue embroidery floss on graphite, on the right it is transcribed with red embroidery floss on aluminum. Fire and Ice (after Robert Frost) A diptych with a transcription of 'Fire and Ice' by Robert Frost (twice), 2022 Photo by Tom Van Eynde Canvas, embroidery floss, aluminum, graphite // 52 by 34 inches each // 2022
  •  Dianna Frid artwork detail of 'Fire and Ice' Partial detail view of 'Ice'
  •  four views of one of a kind artist's book with text and abstracted images of cracks on cement printed on colorful fabrics. The text is embroidered. Forcefields Text by Koushik Banerjea. Unique artist's book. Photo by Tom Van Eynde Materials: Canvas, silk, photographic image transfers, thread Dimensions: Closed 15 x 11 inches; Open 15 x 22.5 inches
  •  Dianna Frid artwork Singing (after Bertolt Brecht) “And in the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing about the dark times.” –Motto by Bertolt Brecht Photo by Tom Van Eynde Paper, paint, cloth, embroidery floss, graphite, aluminum foil // Dimensions: 85.5 x 72 inches //
  •  Dianna Frid artwork From Before You Had a Name This is view of Side A. In this view, the ensconced rocks come from the landmass that today is geographically considered Mexico. Photo by Tom Van Eynde Plaster, cardboard, cement, paint, wood, canvas, embroidery floss, and rocks. All the rocks are from the landmass that today is called Mexico Clockwise: peacock ore a.k.a. bornite, aragonite, obsidian, sand selenite rose, and fluorite.
  •  Mixed media work consisting of segmented letters that gradually spell out the word "Soledad" Soledad (part of 'The Overflows' series) Photo by Tom Van Eynde Canvas, paper, embroidery floss, aluminum, paint // 78 x 90 inches
  •  Dianna Frid artwork Evidence of the Material World # 7 Evidence of the Material World is an ongoing series of wall drawings made with graphite membranes. These are made alongside existing architectural features of a given space. This view is of an iteration —number seven— that took place at the DePaul Art Mus Ongoing Series 2011 - present // 46 x 72.5 inches // Hand drawn graphite films mounted on wall//Site-bound temporary installation at the DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL, 2016
  •  Dianna Frid artwork detail of Evidence of the Material World
  •  Image of a work made with vertical embroidered black embroidery thread. The words are from "The Odyssey" and they read: I ALONE WAS TO HEAR THEIR VOICES, THEIR RAVISHING VOICES OUT ACROSS THE AIR. The Sirens Paper, paint, graphite, and embroidery floss on canvas. 72 x 44.5 inches Photo by Robert Chase Heishman

    Installed onsite in private residence in Chicago's South Side. This is from an early body of work where I began to explore the integration of literature to visual work. The text is from The Odyssey and it reads: I ALONE WAS TO HEAR THEIR VOICES, THEIR RAVISHING VOICES OUT ACROSS THE AIR. The text refers to the siren's voices that Ulysses encounters during his journey.

  •  An installation of Frid's exhibit "All Days Are Counted" at Alan Koppel Gallery in 2019. In the image there are three pieces made with embroidery and mixed media: "Big Bang Universe",  "All Days Are Counted," and "Rhythm is the fundamental force". Exhibition at Alan Koppel Gallery, Chicago Partial view of "All Days Are Counted." An exhibition at Alan Koppel Gallery, 2019 Photo by Tom Van Eynde

    Chicago, 2019

  •  Dianna Frid artwork All Days are Counted Paper, paint, cloth, embroidery floss, graphite. 85.5 x 56.5 inches Photo by Tom Van Eynde

    From the series "Text Textiles"

  •  This is a collection of works consisting of embroidery thread in different colors on a graphite background. Each work measures 15 inches high by 20 inches wide. They are arranged in a grid. Words from Obituaries Partial view of "All Days Are Counted." An exhibition at Alan Koppel Gallery, 2019 Photo by Dianna Frid

    In 2010 I started an archive of obituaries, which I loosely classify according to a typology of professions. I codify groups of related occupations in different colors: for example, persons whose work was dedicated to language (poets, translators, linguists, writers…) are classified in pink; those who worked in scientific exploration (astronauts, physicists…) are classified in green, and so on. I embroider words chosen from particular obituaries in shades of the color corresponding to the profession of the person deceased. No “life-work” can be neatly classified. Persons are remembered for all kinds of things, some of which could be unspeakable, as in war crimes. Some people engaged in life work, such as philanthropy, which could be considered vocational, rather than professional. When systems of classification get messy—and they will—they become interesting. Why? The mess illuminates the fact that a human life (or whatever is being classified) is irreducible to one single, compelling account.

  •  Embroidery with red hues on graphite that spell the words "YOU SEND US BOMBS" NYT, NOV 30, 2017, ARMANDO HART from the "Words From Obituaries" Series Canvas, paper, embroidery floss, graphite 15 x 20 inches Photo by Dianna Frid

    As I sort through hundreds of obituaries I find, in a few of them, samplings of phrases that are just right. They seize a moment in language that operates both within and outside the source. I do not choose these words for their narrative or honorific value, but rather for an urgency that is external, yet related, to those values. Each finished piece measures 15 x 20 inches; what may vary is the number of letters and therefore the number of rows. I don't add or change words, however I remove the spaces between words and, if present, take out punctuation marks. Some words are fragmented between rows of text. All this provokes an expanded reading where words arise from within words, and letters latch onto letters in adjacent words. SENSE and FORM shift: sometimes the letters are more apparent than the words, and vice-versa.

  •  Embroidery with PINK hues on graphite that spell the words "TO FIND IT HAD BEEN WRITTEN BY A WOMAN"" NYT, AUG. 23, 2014, SIMIN BEHBAHANI, from the "Words From Obituaries" Series Canvas, paper, embroidery floss, graphite 15 x 20 inches Photo by Tom Van Eynde

    Each finished piece measures 15 x 20 inches; what may vary is the number of letters and therefore the number of rows. I don't add or change words, however I remove the spaces between words and, if present, take out punctuation marks. Some words are fragmented between rows of text. All this provokes an expanded reading where words arise from within words, and letters latch onto letters in adjacent words. SENSE and FORM shift: sometimes the letters are more apparent than the words, and vice-versa. This is an ongoing project that I started in 2011

  •  cover and three spreads of the artist's book "Esta Mina" which translates as 'this is a mine.' Whe nthe book pages are turned a collection of minerals is slowly revealed on the right. On the left we see the holes than ensconced them. Esta Mina (artist's book) Canvas, colored pencils, aluminum, adhesives, and nine mineral rocks. Photo by Tom Van Eynde

    I made Esta Mina in response to early-modern and Enlightenment books from the Burgoa Library collection. I have been conducting research at this library, located in Oaxaca, Mexico, since 2015. Many of the books in the Burgoa are riddled with wormholes of larvae that nested in them. Likewise, many early modern books embody the classification drive of their time. The aspiration was that Animal, Mineral and Vegetable are neatly organized kingdoms. While the geological force that produced these Minerals can be understood, it cannot be contained as neatly as it might seem.

  •  Four view of artist's book consisting of images of greco-roman marble carvings of cloth. There are five holes throughout the book and in each hole there is a piece of marble oar. Artist's Book, "Transmission and Reception" Cloth, photographic transfers, thread, and marble. Closed 18 x 16 x 2 inches. Open 18 x 32 inches Photo by Tom Van Eynde

    The photographic transfers in this book are of representations of cloth carved in Greco-Roman marble sculptures. The sculptures are about 2,000 years old. The actual marble inside the book is millions of years old. This image is a view of the cover and three spreads.