“Writing is writing what you cannot know before you have written: it is pre-knowing and not knowing, blindly, with words. It occurs at the point where blindness and light meet.”

          —Hélène Cixous 

PATRON is proud to announce pre-knowing / un-knowing, our first solo exhibition with Chicago-based artist Dianna Frid. Over the past three decades, Frid has developed a deeply materially rooted practice that explores the kindred spirits of text and textile. 

Since 2010, Frid has been excising key phrases in the New York Times obituary columns. This ongoing series suggests how language continually folds back upon itself, ferreting new portals and forms for language and context. Incorporating embroidered text, graphite, and aluminum leaf, Frid’s builds upon a material language first introduced in her artist books from the 1990s. Expanding beyond the proverbial page, her works are inter-woven mosaics, building and layering material elements. Frid’s monumental work on canvas We Have No Word in English for This (2021) is rooted in text originally excerpted from cultural scholar Richard H. Hoggart’s 2014 obituary. Selected from a longer quote in which he defended the publication of D.H. Lawrence’s censored novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), Frid replaces the subject of Hoggat’s statement with an ever-unraveling commentary on the act of translation. It opens a question: what is the “it” for which there is not word in English? For Frid, “text is not necessarily linguistic–even though we think of text as words.” She recalls her earliest exposure to textiles, viewing Mayan textiles in Mexico City museums as a child. Still largely indecipherable to the post-colonial viewer, the Mayan texts, taking the form of abstract pictographs painted onto fabric panels, exist also as amongst the earliest surviving “texts” in the Americas. Taking a cue from textile abstraction, Frid’s letters take the shape of symbols, they create patterns that are recognized before being legible as syntax. In Weave, Frid’s eponymous text is encoded through layers of aluminum and syncopated in colored embroideries as if emerging from a spectral archaeological site. Frid’s “weavings” are not the result of the warp and weft, but use concealment and pattern to eludes and exceed language. Using materials more often associated with the literary arts, or works on paper, Frid skirts the categorization of textiles and unfolds the capabilities of graphite, aluminum leaf, and colored thread into a textural collage. 

In this way, Frid suggests how text (not only as language) can exist materially–“what happens when you reduce language down to its essence, its material?” Evidence of the Material World #10, a site specific installation created from hand-drawn graphite membranes, applied directly to the gallery walls, suggest what can be considered a concentrate of the remains of the written word. By reducing language and text into graphite, the message is replaced with the pre-verbal, the organic, the material, the ineffable. For Frid, writing is not solely a communication to future generations but is itself a material to be “ adapted as a movement towards intimations and glimmerings.” Where we expect to seek meanings and translations, Frid finds the open, the possible, the exciting, the precipice “—Nothing is foreclosed.”

DIANNA FRID (b. Mexico City, Mexico) lives and works in Chicago, IL. Frid earned an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Select solo and two-person exhibitions include Dianna Frid: Time is Textile, (2022) Alan Koppel Gallery, Chicago, IL; More Time Than Life, (2019), Alan Koppel Gallery, Chicago, IL; All Days Combined: Dianna Frid and Monika Müller, (2018) Alpineum Produzentengalerie, Lucerne, Switzerland; The Registers: Dianna Frid and Monika Müller, Goldfinch Projects (2018), Chicago, IL; Hilo de Vías: Selected Artist’s Books, Illinois State University, Normal, IL; Dianna Frid and Richard Rezac, (2016) De Paul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; Matter and Subject Matter, (2015) Biblioteca Franscisco de Burgoa, Oaxaca, Mexico; Dianna Frid and Cecilia Vicuña : A Textile exhibition, (2015) The Poetry Foundation, Chicago, IL; Skylight and Spectra, (2010) neues kunstforum, Cologne, Germany; Dianna Frid and Allison Wade, Riverside Art Center, Riverside, IL Dianna Frid (2008) devening projects + editions, Chicago, IL; Dianna Frid (1999) Esso Gallery, New York, IL; Dianna Frid (1995) Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver, Canada. 

Frid’s work has been included in multiple group exhibitions including: Headlines: The Art of the News Cycle: Myriam Dion, Stan Douglas, Dianna Frid, Ron Gorsline, Miriam Rudolf, Ron Treada (2022) Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Canada; Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, (2022) Design Museum of Chicago, Chicago, IL; LatinXAmerica (2021), De Paul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; Día de Muertos - A Time to Grieve & Remember (2022) National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL; The Long Goodbye (2020) Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL ; Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago (2020) Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; An Infinite and Omnivorous Sky (2020) University Galleries of Illinois State University, Chicago, IL; Body Screen Meme, Des Lee Gallery, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO; Cross Currents/Intercambio Cultural (2019) Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL; Through Her Eye (2019) Mana Contemporary, Chicago, IL; Inquiry 01: Jewish Artists Fellowship Exhibition (2018) Seprtus Institute, Chicago, IL; Your Body is a Battleground (2016) Weinberg Newton Gallery, Chicago, IL; Present Standard (2016) Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; What is the Message/ The Brilliant Influence of Deborah Boardman: a Collective Survey (2016) Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL; The Contained Narrative: Defining the Contemporary Artists Book (2015) Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, MN; Twelve Variations (2013) Chicago Artist Coalition  Chicago, IL; Ink Paper Scissors (2013) Kimball Art Center, Park City, UT; Gravity Matters and Shadowy Folds (2010) dok251, Düsseldorf, Germany; Selections: Spring 2008 (2008) The Drawing Center, NY; National Projects: Fall 2005: Dianna Frid, Kira Lynn Harris, Mike Cloud, Jay Heikes, Joanna VanDerBeek (2005) MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY; The Fact Show: Conceptual Art Today (1999) Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA; Anatomical Permutations (1999) Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico City, Mexico; Labor of Love (1996) The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY. 

Her work is included in the public collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; De Paul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; CU Art Museum, Boulder, CO; Joan Flasch Artist’s Book Collection, Chicago, IL; National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL; Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada as well as numerous private collections internationally.