Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art
Debra Diamond received her PhD in South Asian art history from Columbia University (2000) and has published extensively on Indian painting and contemporary Asian art. In 2008, she curated the acclaimed international exhibition Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur; the exhibition catalogue won the 2010 Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award for Best Museum Scholarship and a Smithsonian Secretary’s Research Prize. She also coordinated the yearlong Celebration of India at the Freer|Sackler, which encompassed two exhibitions and a wide array of public programs devoted to making South Asian art and culture come alive for diverse audiences.
A specialist in Indian court painting and the visual culture of yoga, Diamond curated the 2013 exhibition Yoga: The Art of Transformation; both the exhibition and its eponymous catalogue received first place awards of excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators. She has curated numerous other exhibitions in the Sackler, including Worlds within Worlds: Imperial Paintings from India and Iran (2012); In the Realm of the Buddha(2010); Facing East: Portraits from Asia (2006); Perspectives: Simryn Gill(2006); Autofocus: Raghubir Singh’s Way into India(2003); and the reinstallation of Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas. Her most recent exhibition, Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia, opened in 2017, accompanied by the publication of Paths to Perfection, the museums’ first guidebook on its Buddhist collections, and an app exploring Tibetan Buddhist sacred spaces. That year also saw the opening of Body Image: Arts from the Indian Subcontinent, the Freer’s newly reconceived permanent galleries for South Asian art. Diamond is currently planning an exhibition and catalogue examining the emotions related to place in Udaipur paintings.