In the Gallery

Gallery Exhibition: INVISIBLE SUFFERING – The Art of Diana Aldrete

Now through April 6
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 11am to 3pm
in the Gallery

Masks required while in the gallery.


My visual art is an invitation to ground my thoughts and emotions down on canvas, as a reflection of everything I have researched in my academic studies and learned from my own lived experiences. I maneuver acrylic paint to build layers of colors, meaning, and references to allow abstract forms to take shape onto the canvas. In Invisible Suffering, these intentional layers suggest the overlapping effects of hidden and forcibly imposed pain onto communities throughout decades, centuries, or even millennia.

Invisible Suffering is a series of original paintings that began as an urgent creative response to the many accounts amounting in the year 2020, including but not limited to:

the consequences of a pandemic, white supremacy, femicides, indigenous rights violations, and changes in our climate, just to name a few. The intention of this art project is to invite dialogue in community, to question the invisible suffering enmeshed in one year and that carries a historical resonance, to build a visual elegy for the lives lost in 2020, and to use the language of art to make present the many voices in my research.

The works featured in Invisible Suffering are a new body of work made possible by the Free Center’s Independent Artist Fund. This project begins with a provocation to hold space for emotional understanding of pain and possible imaginings for future action. It fuses my artistic visual expression with my academic research and interests on border studies, gendered violence in Latin America, and environmental and social justice to examine how we can process the world. I invite the spectator to come closer and look beyond the layers of metaphorical suffering, to therefore ask how we can collectively build on a politics of healing. Through abstraction, this art project comments on how suffering can become invisible if we fail to pay attention to the patterns and refuse to take a deeper

look at toxic systems affecting our society. By actively dissecting the layers, we can use art to teach us how to make sense of the complexities of the world and begin acts of collective care so we may imagine and build better futures. This art project also undertakes a queer and feminist praxis (theory put into practice) in my methodology and in the process of Invisible Suffering’s exhibition. That is, being cognizant of the labor of women (especially women of color) and intentionally highlighting the work produced by Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

It is no surprise that abstract expressionism first gained momentum after the First and Second World Wars, perhaps because of artists’ attempts to make sense of the horrors of the world. It is with this awareness that I find inspiration in the aesthetics of the emotional works of Jackson Pollock, and in Julie Mehretu’s large scale multi-layered abstract paintings. According to Russian Philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin, “to live means to participate in dialogue,” therefore, I see this art project affirming the need to dialogue not just art with life, but with audiences in a communal witnessing. As an educator and an abstract visual artist, I exist at the intersections of multiple disciplines. I consider art the perfect catalyst in education, by positioning art as an autonomous space that is not static or contingent on specific institutions.


Dr. Diana Aldrete is a bicultural, first-generation Mexican-Salvadoran-American queer artist and scholar. She was born in Milwaukee, WI before moving to Guadalajara Mexico at a very early age where she did her primary education. She is currently a visiting professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College. She earned her PhD in Hispanic Literatures from the University at Albany, SUNY where she focused on human rights, women rights, and Latin American literatures. She is also an abstract painter, writer, and musician who often infuses literary and musical references in her visual art and writing. She has published academically, as well as poetry, and short fiction. She is currently working on her first book manuscript on femicides/feminicidios (the misogynist killing of women), as well as a collection of short stories with the theme of different forms of a “return.”