ARTIST, ANTHROPOLOGIST AND Rice University fellow and lecturer Lina Dib traces her interest in making art back to early childhood. At age three, while drawing, she would get frustrated that the pencils “weren’t doing what I wanted them to do,” and throw them across the room. “I was very adamant about using things in a way that I imagined,” laughs Dib, who is now the mother of a 17-month-old girl and expecting a boy in May.
Known for using cutting-edge computer technology to create her provocative, and very beautiful sound, video and sculptural installations, Dib channels her inner toddler to create work that is both playful and inquisitive. “I have a lot of questions in my work,” says Dib, who somehow exudes confidence even while being self-effacing. “I don’t necessarily pretend to answer them all.”
Dib’s latest creation is a public window installation at Houston’s newest “innovation hub” The Ion, a 266,000-square-foot building completed in April 2021 whose tenants include Microsoft, Chevron Technology Ventures and the flexible workspace company Common Desk. Dib and fellow forward-thinking artist Preston Gaines were selected from 60 applicants to each create a window display that spoke to The Ion’s dedication to cross-disciplinary inspiration and innovation.
Dib’s installation, Self-Portrait in the Garden, is a lush, though thoroughly artificial garden of Astro turf, plastic plants and pink flamingos. It has a horizontal screen, suspended at a slight angle, which captures and transplants images of people in front of the window into a virtual garden of psychedelic foliage, which incrementally covers up the mirrored subject unless he/she/they move their body. “In order to see themselves, people have to keep moving in front of the window,” says Dib. “So, they do these really funny dances.” It’s quintessential Dib. Big questions about our endlessly awkward relationship with nature are food for thought while you do the hokey-pokey in a public space.
Dib may be comfortable with not having all of the answers, but she’s no dilettante. Her practice is serious and rigorous, even as her interests continue to expand and intertwine, like weeds and flowers in an untamed garden. “A wonderful thing about getting older and more mature in my practice is I’m so not bothered by that anymore,” says Dib of the pressure to define, in simple press release-terms, what it is she does. “I love that I can dip into these different realms of thinking and practice. They absolutely all converge in different ways.”
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