They Are Each Other For A While: Diana Schmertz

They Are Each Other For A While, features an array of paintings by New York City-based artist Diana Schmertz. The artist’s work balances “emotional reasoning and intellectual logic” to allow viewers to explore ‘the self’ in relation to the world, while utilizing visual systems that aim to challenge belief structures.

A focal point of the exhibition is Origin Stories, a wall installation that depicts 556 human navels painted on two-inch diameter circular wooden panels. These belly buttons represent the specific individuality of every human being—while the tondo format symbolizes mathematical order for the artist. This piece challenges the viewer to consider their own self in relation to others. Focusing on what unites, the artist has depicted various bodies and skin colors that look beyond social hierarchies—or thoughts fueled solely by history and politics.

The Uncertainty Principle, a large-scale canvas measuring 7 ½’ x 9’, highlights intimate moments of human interaction. Schmertz often chooses the body as a principle subject “because we filter everything we perceive through our physical senses.” Her realistically rendered images are painted in the confines of circular areas arranged in a grid. When viewed close up the sensitively rendered details of each circular moment are revealed; while from a distance the composition reads as an expansive white field populated by a grid of flesh colored dots.

Origin Shmertz 1                                           Origin 2 Schmertz 2


  1. Diana Schmertz (American, born 1973) Origin Stories – close up, 2017, Oil paint on 556 2″ diameter wood tondos, Courtesy of the artist
  2. Diana Schmertz (American, born 1973) Origin Stories, 2017, Oil paint on 556 2″ diameter wood tondos, Courtesy of the artist