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Exhibition of Newly Commissioned, Immersive Earth Installations by Delcy Morelos to Open at Dia Chelsea This Fall

New York, NY, September 13, 2023 – Opening on October 5, 2023, artist Delcy Morelos presents two new site-responsive, multisensory installations at Dia Chelsea, that will remain on view through July 2024. Delcy Morelos: El abrazo is the artist’s first solo presentation in the United States.

Over a 30-year practice grounded in abstraction, Morelos has worked across painting, sculpture, and installation. Employing earth as her primary material for over a decade now, she constructs encompassing environments of geometrically abstract forms and organic dispersions. Drawing on the cosmologies and worldviews of ancestral Andean and Amazonian cultures, her own and others, Morelos’s work explores the sustaining power of mud in its many forms—as a source of life and sustenance.

“Dia has a longstanding interest in works that engage with earth as a multivalent material, as evidenced by many of our permanent Land art sites and installations, such as Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room (1977) and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970). Delcy Morelos brings an important new perspective for us, employing this medium to highlight the profound need to care for the earth,” said Jessica Morgan, Dia’s Nathalie de Gunzburg Director.

The exhibition at Dia Chelsea consists of two installations—Cielo terrenal (Earthly Heaven, 2023) and El abrazo (The Embrace, 2023), the latter giving the exhibition its title. In the first gallery at 541 West 22nd Street, Morelos paints the walls and floor with soil to create Cielo terrenal. This installation is the latest in Morelos’s ongoing series of earth-lined rooms, which render the monochrome architectural while addressing the cyclical relationships between water and land. The dark substance rises against the walls to nearly five feet, creating a horizon line that echoes the high-water mark left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when the Hudson River flooded the empty galleries. The edge lines of this mud-paint articulate a cavernous space, within which elements are interspersed—earth-encrusted building materials (salvaged from previous installations at Dia) and black ceramic forms produced in the Amazonas and Tolima departments of Colombia using an ancestral open-fire technique. The ceramics recall cleaving cells, animal droppings, and root vegetables. The arrangements of stacks and loose piles variously recall an exposed riverbed, cultivated farmland, or an archaeological excavation, as well as the industrialized logic of Minimalism.

Morelos’s second installation, in the gallery at 545 West 22nd Street, consists of a vast earthen monolith that hovers above the ground and pushes against the ceiling. El abrazo draws on the visual vocabulary of ritual structures such as mastabas, temples, and ziggurats, as well as the mountainous topographies that inspire these forms. It also conjures iconic Minimal sculptures that have their own complex relationships to ritual architecture—including many works in Dia’s permanent collection. The installation is constructed from earthen materials such as recycled soil, clay, and coir, which are infused with aromatic spices, including cinnamon and clove. Conceived as a shrine to peat, the work uses sustainably sourced materials to evoke this vital yet vulnerable resource in the fight against climate change. Visitors to Dia Chelsea are invited to caress the work and will be provided with the artist’s written instructions on how to do so. Encouraging visitors to move around, enter, and touch El abrazo, Morelos asks them to consider how “to touch the earth is to be touched by her.”

“While Morelos’s work may formally engage with the legacy of Land art, gesturing toward its visual vocabulary of geometric abstraction, it powerfully reorients considerations of land and site toward embodied forms of material and ecological knowledge, and instills the importance of a sensuous connection to earth as material.” said Alexis Lowry, curator, Dia Art Foundation.

In conjunction with the commission, Dia presents Soil Sessions, an iterative series of interdisciplinary activations, poetic responses to, discursive reflections on, and embodied engagements with earth as subject and material in Morelos’s work. These public programs, presented monthly throughout the run of the exhibition, invite sustained engagement with the commission through a variety of lenses.

Delcy Morelos: El abrazo is accompanied by the first bilingual publication expressly dedicated to the artist’s soil-based works, edited by Kamilah N. Foreman, Alexis Lowry, and Zuna Maza. Published in English and Spanish with a folio of versions of Amazon Indigenous origin stories from Bará, M+n+ca, Uitoto N+pode, and Yucuna Kamejeyá and Yucuna Jeruriba knowledge-holders, the richly illustrated monograph will explore Morelos’s multisensory and deeply personal approach to working with land. Publishing date to be announced.

Following Dia Chelsea, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in Saint Louis will present Morelos’s second U.S. solo presentation, opening in March 2024. This separate, career-spanning exhibition will feature painting, sculpture, and installation from the 1990s to the 2010s, as well as a new monumental, site-specific earth work.

Delcy Morelos: El abrazo is curated by Alexis Lowry, curator, with Zuna Maza, curatorial assistant.

All exhibitions at Dia are made possible by the Economou Exhibition Fund.

Delcy Morelos: El abrazo is organized in partnership with the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA). Major support provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. Significant support by the Teiger Foundation and VIA Art Fund. Generous support by the Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation, Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, Dia’s Director’s Council, and Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation. Additional support by the Cowles Charitable Trust, Daniel and Estrellita Brodsky Family Foundation, Clarice Oliveira Tavares, and Helen and Peter Warwick. Special thanks to IFF for their guidance and contributions toward El abrazo (2023).

About Delcy Morelos

Delcy Morelos was born in Tierralta, Colombia, in 1967. Morelos’s practice encompasses painting, installation, and sculpture. Over the last decade the artist has focused on large-scale site-specific installations, using soil, clay, natural fibers, and other organic materials. Morelos graduated from La Escuela de Bellas Artes de Cartagena in 1991. Recent solo presentations include those at NC-arte, Bogotá (2018); Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg, Sweden (2018); Galería Santa Fe, Bogotá (2019); Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Canada (2019); and Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (2022). Recent group shows include Dum Som Jag (One as Another), Havremagasinet, Boden, Sweden (2016), and Sami Dáiddaguovddáš, Karasjok, Norway (2017); 45 Salón Nacional de Artistas: el revés de la trama (45th National Artists’ Salon: The Reverse of the Plot), Bogotá (2019); 59th Venice Biennale: The Milk of Dreams (2022); and the 5th Aichi Triennale: STILL ALIVE (2022). Her work is included in the collections of Banco de la República (Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango); Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño; Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena; and Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá. She lives in Bogotá. 

About Dia Art Foundation

Taking its name from the Greek word meaning “through,” Dia was established in 1974 with the mission to serve as a conduit for artists to realize ambitious new projects, unmediated by overt interpretation and uncurbed by the limitations of more traditional museums and galleries. Dia’s programming fosters contemplative and sustained consideration of a single artist’s body of work and its collection is distinguished by the deep and longstanding relationships that the nonprofit has cultivated with artists whose work came to prominence particularly in the 1960s and ’70s. 

In addition to Dia Beacon, Dia Bridgehampton, and Dia Chelsea, Dia maintains and operates a constellation of commissions, long-term installations, and site-specific projects, notably focused on Land art, nationally and internationally. These include: 

  • Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room(1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), Max Neuhaus’s Times Square (1977), and Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks, inaugurated in 1982 and ongoing), all in New York
  • De Maria’s The Lightning Field(1977), in western New Mexico
  • Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty(1970), in the Great Salt Lake, Utah
  • Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels(1973–76), in the Great Basin Desert, Utah
  • De Maria’s The Vertical Earth Kilometer(1977), in Kassel, Germany 
  • Cameron Rowland’s Depreciation (2018)


For additional information or materials, contact: 
(U.S. press inquiries)

Hannah Gompertz, Dia Art Foundation,, +1 212 293 5598
Melissa Parsoff, Parsoff Communications,, +1 516 445 5899

(International press inquiries)
Sam Talbot,, +44 (0) 772 5184 630

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