11 For 11: Harriet Diamond



Greg Morell

When you walk through the doors of Northampton’s Oxbow Gallery on March 2, be prepared to confront something completely different. It is the official opening of Harriet Diamond’s “Driven from their Homes,” an installation of over 100 ceramic figurines retreating from the horrors of wartime destruction, seeking escape and a flight from oppression in an attempt to survive and emerge into safety. It is an exodus frozen in time.

I first became aware of the work of Harriet Diamond at one of Terry Rooney’s Amherst Biennials. Diamond had created a piece called “The Pit,” a startling work that became affixed in my mind. In my brief capsule of the “The Pit” in the exhibit catalog, I had this to say:

“The centerpiece is a remarkable floor-toceiling phantasmagoria depicting the nightmare of the war machine. Entitled ‘The Pit,’ the highly theatrical parade of tanks, soldiers and artillery descend down a convoluted gyre of horror. It is a marvelous construction of molded clays and textured architectural walls that fall into a Dantean inferno of doom. Powerful and intriguing, this is a chasm of poignant commentary.”

What is so disarming about the work of Harriet Diamond is the childlike innocence of the artistic aesthetic contrasted with the horror of man’s inhumanity to man so chillingly depicted in her highly unusual installations.

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