Installation Depicts Refugee Experience

Exiled by installation artist Harriet Diamond opened in the Richmond Art Center’s Sue and Eugene Mercy Jr. Gallery on Thursday, November 14 and will continue through January 17, 2020.

The exhibit explores the refugee experience through two large-scale sculpture installations: “Driven From Their Homes,” a story of war and diaspora from Syria; and “Arrival: The Rohingya,” about the Rohingya people’s arriving at a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

In a presentation to art students during the opening reception, Ms. Diamond explained that her art is a hybrid of installation sculpture and “illusionistic scene-making.” She said she was inspired by photojournalists who travel around the globe to tell the story of everyday people caught up in geopolitical conflicts. Ms. Diamond worked on the Exiled installation sculpture projects while she was a Visiting Artist at Loomis Chaffee in January 2019 and returned as a Visiting Artist this week, working among the art faculty and students in the Richmond Art Center.

“I explore many of the simple aspects of the lives of the people caught up in overwhelming experiences,” she explained in her exhibition statement. “It is these things that we are curious about.  Where do they sleep?  What have they brought with them? … Such wonderings can be the beginning of empathy — the moment when we stop ignoring or turning away and begin to see and to imagine what life is like for others.”

“[Ms. Diamond] has constructed a world within the gallery,” commented Jennifer McCandless, Nichols Fellow in Visual Art, director of the Mercy Gallery, and Visual Art Department chair. “Her use of space draws us in and poetically, quietly, and kindly hits us with the truth. The work is quiet and invites discovery and compassion. One feels the fragility and the strength of the refugees. There may be nothing more valuable to our young viewers than that.”

A resident of Northampton, Mass., Ms. Diamond has enjoyed a long career as a professional artist and art educator. Her work carries a political message and has been exhibited in numerous venues throughout the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts and across the United States. More information about Ms. Diamond's art and educational background is available in her Artist's Statement and on her website.

Connect to a video about the exhibit.

For more information, including gallery hours, connect to the Mercy Gallery page of the Loomis Chaffee website.