Arrivals: Diana Brody

Turned off by the idea of an organized belief system, she describes herself as a spiritual person.

Diana Brody 88 224 (photo credit: Meredith Price Levitt)
Diana Brody 88 224
(photo credit: Meredith Price Levitt)
Up five flights of stairs, at the top of an old building in Tel Aviv, Diana Brody makes her home and artistic studio. On almost every wall hangs a piece of her artwork that combines paper and oil paint on canvas to create a rich, textured image. In a new series of eight large paintings called "Lovers," a male and a female are depicted in a variety of different positions wearing nothing but red underwear. "This series is about the struggle of love itself and the power dynamics within relationships," says Brody, pointing to an unfinished work with a woman crouching on the ground in a defensive position. "It's about how you take two individuals and get them to work together as a couple without losing their own identity." In one of the most remarkable pieces, the view is distorted to make the man small and the woman extremely large, and Brody says that the goal is to evoke emotions in the viewers that will force them to question their own feelings on the subject. BEFORE ARRIVAL Born in Boston, she grew up in the small suburb of Wayland, where she went to high school and took courses at the DeCortiva Museum. "That was the beginning of getting serious about art," she says. After high school, she moved to New York to attend the Parsons School of Design. In 2003, she received her BA in fashion design. "All through school, I was struggling with the decision to do fashion or art. My professors all told me to do art, but I chose fashion." She went to work for a company in New York and was on a successful career path when she realized that she really wanted to be an artist, not a fashion designer. "I kind of freaked out because I knew I wanted to be an artist but it seemed to scary to quit my job. That's when I started looking for artist residencies, and I found the World Union of Jewish Students organization." UPON ARRIVAL Although her official aliya date wasn't until almost a year and half later, she arrived in Arad as part of an artist residency in the fall of 2005. "I came on a birthright trip for two weeks in the summer of 2004, and it was my first trip here. After that, I wanted to come back and do art." The residency lasted for seven months, and she says she was practically adopted by a family of artists that participates in the program. When she finished, she still wasn't sure about making aliya and went traveling with an Israeli she was dating at the time. "After I got back from the six-month-long trip all through Asia, I decided to stay." She flew back to the United States to proceed with the aliya process, and then moved to Tel Aviv, where she has been ever since. FAMILY HISTORY Her parents live in Bolton, Massachusetts. Her paternal and maternal grandparents are of Eastern European descent, but they all died when she was young and she doesn't know much about their histories. One of three siblings, she has a twin brother in Philadelphia who works in logistics and an older sister who is a social worker and lives in western Massachusetts. WORK Brody says that she occasionally picks up odd jobs, such as content writing in English, in order to make ends meet. Soon, she hopes to survive entirely from her art. "I'm an artist, and my art is very physical. It's my passion, and I hope that I'll find a gallery to work with." In April she participated in a group exhibition with professional artists at a school for troubled teens. LIVING ENVIRONMENT She shares her two-bedroom penthouse apartment on a quiet street in the center of Tel Aviv with a roommate. Although her spacious place has not been renovated, it has plenty of room for her art supplies and canvases. "I love this place because it has plenty of room for me to work, and it's so peaceful," she says, taking a seat on a couch outside where she has set up an external living room with a view of the stars. ROUTINE At the moment, there is no fixed routine. Most of her time is devoted to painting and promoting her work. "I'm trying to find a balance between looking for potential galleries and exhibits and working on my art," she says. In the evenings, she sometimes goes to have a beer and eat a shwarma with friends at her favorite neighborhood bar, the Minzar. HOBBIES Running on the beach, attending concerts, reading and having an ice-cold beer with a friend are some of her favorite activities. "I don't play an instrument, but I have a lot of respect for music and I'd love to learn how to play one day. I have a lot of friends who are musicians, and I really enjoy hearing them play." CIRCLE "I feel like everyone I know is either an artist or a musician or in an artistic field," says Brody, whose roommate is a documentary filmmaker from Germany. Most of her friends are Israeli or international, but she doesn't know very many fellow Americans. "Most of my friends are older than me, too." LANGUAGE She says she went to Ulpan Gordon and speaks Hebrew on a low level. "My Hebrew is pretty bad, but I understand almost all of what people say to me, and I'm not afraid to make mistakes." Given the choice, she prefers English, but with friends who only speak Hebrew, she gets by. RELIGION Raised in Reform home, she was nevertheless required to attend Hebrew school. "My parents are basically atheists, but I guess they thought it was what they were supposed to do." Turned off by the idea of an organized belief system, she describes herself as a spiritual person. "I'm just starting to think about enlightenment." IDENTIFICATION "I say I'm American, and I say I'm Jewish, but if someone asks me where I'm from, I always switch the subject. There are more interesting things about a person than where they are from. I'm not Israeli, but I'm not attached to it." PLANS/DREAMS She says that she plans to always live close to the sea, and there are only two things she wants in life: "I obsess most about having a life filled with art, being able to do this full-time without having to do anything else for money, and I want a family. If I have those two things, what more do I need?" To propose an immigrant for an 'Arrivals' profile, please send a one paragraph e-mail to: [email protected]