a white portrait that reads O small small head beautiful brown bead pink white orb speak!

June 5, 2023

Jessica Diamond’s Meditation on Life to Be Explored in Text-Based Exhibition at the Hirshhorn
Artist Follows Laurie Anderson and Barbara Kruger in Transforming Gallery Walls with Text-Based Work; On View July 14, 2023–June 2, 2024

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present the largest museum installation to date by American conceptual artist Jessica Diamond. “Wheel Of Life” will fill the Hirshhorn’s second-floor inner-circle galleries with 15 text-and-image-based artworks to highlight the inventive nature of the artist’s practice, July 14–June 2, 2024.

“Jessica Diamond joins the company of Laurie Anderson and Barbara Kruger in presenting text-based work made for the Hirshhorn,” said Melissa Chiu, Hirshhorn director. “Working at the intersection of pop and conceptual traditions, Diamond invites our broad audiences to examine how living artists share ideas and influence perspectives.”

Diamond emerged in New York’s downtown art scene in the 1980s. Adopting language as her primary medium, the artist critiques contemporary American life, particularly commercialism, corporate culture and media in her earlier works. In the “Wheel Of Life” exhibition, literature serves as a continual touchstone for the artist, with references here including Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854), Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865), and James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922). She will present 13 new wall drawings in dialogue with two preexisting works to reveal, in what she refers to as “poetical texts” and symbols, her meditation on life after spending more than 40 years as a working artist.

“It is an honor to support Jessica Diamond as she continues the tradition of directly intervening with the Museum’s curved galleries, in the footsteps of Linn Meyers and Nicolas Party and others,” said Betsy Johnson, Hirshhorn assistant curator.

Diamond’s exhibition is also the subject of a suite of Hirshhorn Eye videos embedded in the Museum’s award-winning self-guiding smartphone platform. Designed to enrich “Wheel Of Life” for broad audiences, these new Hirshhorn Eye shorts are voiced by individuals of many ages. Hirshhorn Eye will activate the Museum’s second-floor inner-circle galleries by prompting engagement with the artist’s richly coded self-reflections, inviting visitors to linger and share their reflections on @Hirshhorn.

About the Artist

Jessica Diamond was born in 1957 in New York City, where she continues to live and work. She received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1979 and an MFA from Columbia University in 1981. Diamond has appeared in many international exhibitions including the Lyon Biennale, Lyon, France (2015); Sonsbeek 9, Arnhem, the Netherlands (2001); Aperto, Venice Biennale, Italy (1993). Solo exhibitions include El Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville, Spain (2011); The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada (2002); Stedelijk Museum Het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands (1999). The artist participated in Infotainment, traveling exhibition: Rhoda Hoffman Gallery in Chicago, , Aspen Art Museum, Colorado and others. (1985), and the “Whitney Biennial” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City (1991). Diamond is the recipient of several awards including the National Endowment for the Arts Award in 1989, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship Award in 2000, and the Anonymous Was A Woman Award in 2004.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. The Hirshhorn Museum is open daily, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (except Dec. 25). For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu. Follow the Museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Image credit: Jessica Diamond, Untitled (O Small Small Head), 1989/1991. Acrylic and latex paint on wall. Courtesy of the artist.