Diana Thater

Inaugural Artist

Pioneering new media artist Diana Thater presented a program of digital artworks, entitled True Life Adventures, which explored the plight of animals living in imminent danger of poaching in Kenya. In scaling images of flora and fauna to the size of theMART’s façade, Thater explored the intersection between the time-based and spatial dimensions of the moving image. Thater manipulated video projections, light, color and architecture to transport viewers around the world.

"For the Art on theMART opening program I’ve made a short art-adventure film that mixes together live footage of wild animals living in the Chyulu hills near Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya,” said Thater. “The work is not narrative and linear - it is simultaneous - with multiple images inhabiting the screen at once, all moving in different directions at the same time. The accompanying soundtrack was all recorded live in Kenya, to further the exotic but peaceful story of elephants, zebras and giraffe in their native habitat.”



Works & Experience

Since the early 1990s, Diana Thater has created pioneering film, video and installation-based works. Her primary emphasis is on the tension between the natural environment and mediated reality, and by extension, between tamed and wild, and science and magic. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, including literature, animal behavior, mathematics, chess and sociology, her evocative and sometimes near-abstract works interact with their surroundings to create an intricate relationship between time-based and spatial dimensions. She frequently transforms the exhibition venue into a hybrid space between sculpture and architecture, using color and light alongside her installations.Born in 1962 in San Francisco, Thater studied Art History at New York University, before receiving her M.F.A. from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. Thater has been a professor in the Graduate Art Program at ArtCenter since 2004. A large solo exhibition of Thater’s work is currently on view (July 4 – October 4, 2018) at the ICA Boston Watershed. In 2015, a comprehensive mid-career survey of her work, The Sympathetic Imagination, was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Over the past decade, Thater’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions including the The Mistake Room, Los Angeles; Aspen Art Museum; San Jose Museum of Art; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Santa Monica Museum of Art; Kunsthaus Graz, Austria; Natural History Museum, London; Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany; Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany; Dia Center for the Arts, New York; and the Secession, Vienna.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art awarded Thater an Art & Technology grant in 2018. In 2014, Thater was awarded a California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists. Other notable awards and fellowships include a 2011 Award for Artistic Innovation from the Center for Cultural Innovation, Los Angeles, as well as a James D. Phelan Award in Film and Video, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Work by the artist is represented in museum collections worldwide, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Whitney Museum of American Art; and the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart. Also a prolific writer, educator and curator, Thater lives and works in Los Angeles.