some things we keep to ourselves

yasmine nasser diaz

Through personal archives, found imagery, and immersive installation, Yasmine Nasser Diaz’s works investigate complex narratives of third-culture identity, their precarious invisibility/hyper-visibility, and the friction often experienced between the individual and the collective, and between the personal and the political. 

Born and raised in Chicago to Yemeni immigrant parents, Diaz and her sisters often found themselves exercising soft powers, namely the power to co-opt rather than coerce. Diaz explores such uniquely nuanced skills that children of immigrants, particularly those of families who have migrated from the Global South to Western societies, use to negotiate the contradictions in their daily lives. 

some things we keep to ourselves is a collection of textile works drawn from Diaz’s series soft powers that challenge the subdued nature of the intimate moments they reveal. The silk-velvet fiber etchings are adorned with hand-embroidery, delicate crystals, sequins, and appliques of richly-hued damask fabrics. 

The textiles depict bodies at leisure amongst familiar company. Photography is Diaz’s reference material, sourced from her personal archives as well as those she has collected from her close friends. In these works, Diaz reflects on the moments when these girls and young women, alone and together, are able to let their guards down and be themselves. This privacy foregrounds a type of soft power, a reclaiming of agency.

Diaz uses the fiber etching process, which is a recent component of her practice, to further comment on the complex third-culture identities of her subjects. It Involves the application of an acidic paste which reacts to cellulose fibers (in this case rayon), allowing areas to be etched away, leaving the silk-based mesh intact. The resulting ‘burned out’ fabric, also known as devoré, was popular in the 90s, an era that Diaz continually reflects upon in her work. 

This fabric is moreover frequently used in a Yemeni style of dress known as a dir’. Usually made with sheer fabrics, dir’oo (plural) are worn casually at home or on special occasions. Understood as a symbol of womanhood, this style is typically worn by married or engaged women. Known as dirac in Somalia, where the garment originated, the loose ankle-length dresses donned at parties are often embellished with intricate beadwork and sequins, visually enhancing movement like the dancing that invariably consumes such spaces. While the adornments in these works allude to the eye-catching nature of such ensembles, Diaz continues to maintain a sense of anonymity, and therefore privacy, of her subjects. 

Yasmine Nasser Diaz

Thick As Thieves, 2020

Silk-rayon velvet fiber etching

28 x 38 inches

Unique edition of 3

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Yasmine Nasser Diaz

They Talk About Us, 2022

Silk-rayon velvet fiber etching with fabric applique

30 x 22 inches

Unique edition of 3

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Yasmine Nasser Diaz

Upstairs at Sumaya’s, 2022

Silk-rayon fiber etching and rhinestones

38 x 48 inches

Unique edition of 2

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Yasmine Nasser Diaz

Noxzema and Lipliner, 2022

Silk-rayon fiber etching, sequins, and fabric applique

28 x 22 inches

Unique edition of 3

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Yasmine Nasser Diaz

Graduation Day, 2020

Silk-rayon velvet fiber etching and wallpaper

23 x 32 inches

Unique edition of 5

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Yasmine Nasser Diaz

On Hold, 2022

Silk-rayon velvet fiber etching with fabric applique

24 x 32 inches

Unique edition of 2

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Yasmine Nasser Diaz is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice draws from nuanced, discordant, and evolving concepts of culture, class, gender, religion, and family. She uses mixed media collage, photo-based fiber etching, immersive installation, and video to explore connections between personal experience and larger social and political structures.

Yasmine has been the recipient of awards and residencies including the Harpo Visual Artists Grant, the California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship, the Marble House Residency in Dorset, VT; and the University of Michigan Efroymson Visiting Artist Residency in Arbor, MI. Her works are included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Arab American National Museum, and the University of California, Los Angeles and have been featured in HyperAllergic, PBS Newshour, Artnet, and Artillery Magazine. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

For this exhibition, Yasmine Nasser Diaz curated an immersive playlist which can be heard playing in the gallery, or listened to online.

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