Distinguished Kent State Alumna's Artwork Featured at Akron City Hospital Campus
Kent State University Honors College alumna Diana Al-Hadid has made a significant impact on the art world since she graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture and a bachelor’s degree in art history in 2003 and subsequently established her art studio in Brooklyn, New York. Her works of art have been featured in both group and solo exhibitions throughout the country for more than a decade, but one of her works has recently made a home in northeast Ohio.
The artwork, which is made from materials including polymer gypsum, fiberglass, steel, plaster, gold leaf, aluminum leaf, copper leaf, and pigment, draws inspiration from Akron’s leading role in the rubber industry as well as the impact of natural and man-made waterways on the northeast Ohio region. An Ohio.com article about the artworks that won the competition praises “A Way with Words” for its “energy and light,” which are characteristic features of many of Al-Hadid’s works. Al-Hadid says she likes to work with a variety of materials because each offers something different, and that she is constantly experimenting.
The installation of the dozens of new artworks, including Al-Hadid’s, at the Akron City Hospital campus embraces a health care environment that recognizes the power and importance of connecting patients to the healing power of the arts, according to an article about the hospital’s artistic initiative published in the Akron Beacon Journal earlier this year. The energy and sense of movement in “A Way with Words” are well-suited to the space of the hospital lobby and enhance the open spaces in the area of the hospital where it is located. One of the work’s most attractive attributes is that, while it has many sources of inspiration, its abstract appearance invites viewers to stop and reflect on its complexities, allowing them to bring their own meanings to the artwork.
Al-Hadid was born in Aleppo, Syria, and moved to the North Canton area with her family when she was five years old. She says that her background undeniably influences the art that she makes; she says, “ I am certain that my upbringing as an immigrant in Ohio and straddling two cultures has given me a wider appreciation of how different histories have combined and influenced one another through the centuries.” Her art installation at Summa Health’s Akron City Hospital campus is not the first time Al-Hadid’s artistic talents have been recognized so close to home: in 2013, the Akron Art Museum hosted the exhibition Diana Al-Hadid: Nolli’s Orders, a solo exhibition that primarily focused on the titular sculpture.
Al-Hadid says that the advisors and professors she had at Kent State were “everything” to her: they supported her throughout her education and held all of her projects to the highest standard. She advises students to get the most out of the time and resources they have at Kent State while they can, as this may be the only time students have access to this wealth of resources.
When asked what she thinks is the importance of art in today’s society, Al-Hadid answered that the art, music, and other cultural artifacts that are created now are what civilizations in the future will use to understand us. She also says that art is important now more than ever because it “remind[s] us that we are still connected” and because it signifies that “there is someone else out there that is working to untangle the chaos around them, even if it’s just a little bit.”
In addition to being celebrated by the community, Al-Hadid’s accomplishments as an artist have been recognized and honored by Kent State University. In 2014, Al-Hadid was the recipient of the Distinguished Honors Alumni Award. Since 1997, this award has annually recognized an Honors College alumnus or alumna for their professional success and their contributions to the community, the university, and to the Honors College. The Honors College describes Al-Hadid as “an innovative contemporary artist who draws on various sources of inspiration often using unconventional materials in her work.”
Al-Hadid advises students that having a career in any field is about building relationships and about “being sincere and working with integrity in all aspects of your life and work.” She also emphasizes the importance of helping others and expressing gratitude to those who assist you. The advice she gives is applicable not only to students who intend to pursue careers in the arts but to all students: she says to trust that people will discover you if you are consistently producing your best work. You may not be able to force a progression of your career, but “you can force your work to be better,” she says.
Al-Hadid’s most recent solo exhibition, Diana Al-Hadid: Sublimations, was held in Nashville, Tennessee from late May to early September of 2019. She is one of the artists currently featured in An Instant Before the World, an exhibition of all-female artists at the Rabat Biennial in Morocco; this exhibition opened on September 24, 2019 and will close on December 24, 2019. Al-Hadid will be honored by Kent State University’s College of the Arts at the event “An Evening with the Arts,” to be held on November 16 at the Center for Visual Arts. She will be recognized with the 2019 Outstanding Young Professional Alumni Award. More information about the artist and her works can be found at her website, http://www.dianaalhadid.com/.
Stephanie Moskal, firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 672-2312