- North America
- Alexia Wulff
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. – Pablo Picasso
Everyone needs a little washing of the soul. Whether that means discovering the meaning of outdoor dance installations, or delving into the fairytale lands of an oil painting, art has a way of arousing critical thought and imagination – even for the viewer. So go on, and explore America’s star-studded list of emerging contemporary artists.
Wilson’s installations dance between the lines of photography and sculpture, twisting and contorting flat images into three-dimensional, textured works of art. Hawaii-born Letha Wilson, a mixed media artist, highlights the beauty of American landscapes, meanwhile tying in elements of the man-made, using concrete, metal, and cement bases. Currently living in Brooklyn, New York, she has an exhibition on view at New York’s University at Albany Art Museum until December 10, 2016, and Columbus Museum of Art until January 8, 2017.
Madeline Hollander, NYC resident and LA native, has always been fascinated by physical movement. At a young age, she was already finding ways to combine dance and invention. And her work captures just that. Through live choreographed performances and video installations – usually accompanied by music composed by her sister, Celia – Hollander reveals that there is beauty in simple day-to-day occurrences. Catch her latest exhibition, st, nd, rd, th, th, th…, at Socrates Sculpture Park – on now until March 12, 2017.
As a painter who got her start at the age of 15, it comes as a surprise that Jesse Mockrin averted from the medium while attending Barnard College in New York, where she focused on photography. But a nudge from artist Amy Adler – who she studied under while getting her MFA at University of California, San Diego – inspired Mockrin to revert back to the craft. Her work, deep and monumental, unveils a fantasy world of lush plant and floral life, soothing colors, and strangely polished faces, one most of us imagine only in our dreams. Whether it’s the eyes peering from behind delicately draped fabric, or the partially cropped images, her work suggests there’s something else to be seen. Represented by Night Gallery, Mockrin has had two solo exhibitions, with her latest showing in fall 2016.
Breaking cultural misconceptions about race and gender isn’t an easy feat. But Tschabalala Self has already made headway in rupturing those ideas engrained in our society. An African-American women born in Harlem, Self has an esteemed understanding of the kinds of fantasies about Blacks, especially Black women and their bodies, that exist in our modern society. Her work – which uses bold colors, abstract shapes, and pieces of fabric scraps – creates a sense of disorientation for the viewer, meant to challenge the typical response of defining characters by gender, race, or sexuality. Rather, she reveals that emotions and personal problems are universal, with each painting telling its own story.
Heidi Hahn‘s work doesn’t present women in their traditional tempestuous allure, a common theme in painting for centuries. Rather, she combats the stereotyped ideas about women and embraces their emotions. Her wax-like characters are clothed in humble, 70s-style attire, usually sitting, reclining, or lounging. But what’s changed is their expression: sadness, despair, empathy. These depictions create an intense reality that resonates across her paintings, all of which engage with the female body. She has had two solo exhibitions – Jack Hanley Gallery and Premier Regard in Paris – amongst several group exhibitions.
In a world dominated by commercial photography, Willa Nasatir emerges as a breath of fresh air. Her photographs are usually tampered with via some sort of technical process – rephotographing, props, refracted light – or a physically damaging method, like burning or scratching off the surface. But what’s unique is her sense of depiction, which strays from the usual documentation present in contemporary photography. She captures what is most intangible, such as light, reflection, and shadow, allowing viewers to fill in the gaps with their own critical thought and imagery.
Sophia Al-Maria first rose to the scene as a writer, publishing her first book, The Girl Who Fell to Earth, in 2012. Her first solo exhibition in the US debuted in October 2016 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, where she used video and installations to project her ideas about contemporary life in the Gulf Arab nations. Raised in Washington State and Qatar, Al-Maria has spent her life witnessing the war between cultures, and how religion, the environment, and history affect the way we live today. She now lives and works in London, where she writes screenplays for a living.