80 Washington Square East, NYU

Curatorial Collaborative

February 10 – March 13, 2021

Project Space

The curatorial collaborative is a student initiative that brings together MFA and BFA candidates, as well as MA and Ph.D. Candidates in art history, allowing artists, curators, and art scholars to work together to create a final project, which is exhibited at 80 Washington Square East.

Inside / Outside
February 10 – 13

Naava Guaraca, Eleisha McCorkle, and Tonisha McCorkle
Curated by Janelle Miniter
Through their artistic practices Naava Guaraca, Eleisha McCorkle, and Tonisha McCorkle investigate their lived experiences through interior and exterior spaces. Hyperaware that most spaces are not inherently designed for Black and Brown women, each artist produces works that reclaim space and assert their agency. 

Naava Guaraca locates herself in the world by seeking the familiar. Although a native New Yorker, Guaraca is deeply connected to her family’s hometown in Ecuador, where she returns often. As an inhabitant of public and private spaces in North and South America, Guaraca analyzes how the two cultures utilize space differently. For example, Guaraca notices an intense conflict exists between the man-made and natural environment in North America compared to South America. She investigates this conflicted relationship through the nuances of exterior and interior spaces. In Bedroom Scene (2020), a diptych, Guaraca melds interior and exterior worlds in her bedroom via the windows, which look out to her family’s hometown in Ecuador. This brings the harmony of the outside into her interior space. Guaraca purposefully utilizes a heightened color palette of green, pink, purple, orange, yellow, and red set against the cool gray walls and warm brown furniture to blur the line between reality and fantasy. When viewers look closely at the diptych, the traditional pictorial perspective is maintained; when viewers look at it from a distance, the perspective skews subtly as their eyes are drawn to the gap between the two panels. Guaraca’s painting physically materializes the safe haven that she carries in her mind as she moves through the world.

Twin sisters Eleisha and Tonisha McCorkle collaborate to produce interdisciplinary artworks that depict the reality of black life, particularly black women. Eleisha, skilled in drawing and digital art, and Tonisha, skilled in painting and ceramics, create work that pays homage to their past, chronicles traditions, and reinforces the relationship between blackness and rituals of haircare, spirituality, food, and healing. In their painting, EBT (Food Stamps) (2019), they recreate their old electronic benefits transfer card. The card number is the address where they lived with their mother after their father left her. The address also designates where the twins first discovered their creativity through cooking, a necessary skill they acquired early in life to help care for their mother and themselves. The name, FAITH’S HOPE, combines their middle names. The expiration date is the month and year of their mother’s passing from sarcoidosis, a rare lung disease, which accelerated after the twins’ birth. This date also marks the last time they were eligible for food stamps. While expressing a personal experience, EBT also highlights the importance of this welfare program that helps disenfranchised, marginalized, and disabled Americans. Their collaborative work highlights the inequities black people experience in America and celebrates the power and resiliency black women foster through important rituals. 
Unwillingly Sazonado Y Morado
February 17 – 20 

Les-lie López and Camila Rodriguez Jimenez
Curated by Leigh Peterson
Les-lie López and Camila Rodriguez Jimenez operate from a paradoxical position, as they find themselves both marginalized and thrust into the spotlight. Historically, the voices of the Mexican and Colombian communities to which they belong did not have priority in the United States. But due to shifting cultural values in recent years, interest in the experiences and perspectives of these groups is growing. As artists, Les-lie and Camila feel pressure to fulfill the role of spokesperson for their cultures. However, they do not desire to be pigeonholed by their backgrounds. ‘Unwillingly Sazonado y Morado’ explores the challenges of using art to bring under-represented peoples and issues onto the mainstage of culture, while fighting for recognition of one’s own independent, artistic voice.

In Luchando, Les-lie creates an image of their parents as wrestlers. Wearing celebratory attire and luchador masks, an emblem of Mexican wrestling, they stand within one another’s embrace as they look into the distance. These features convey a message about fighting for the future, as they are two people who agreed to support one another through life’s ups and downs. Les-lie infuses the luchador mask with a unique message about love and willingness to fight for the future of the people and things one cares about. As a child of Mexican immigrants, Les-lie is aware of how their parents’ life experiences impact the perception people have of them. Through this piece, they ask the viewer to recognize the role that parents play in predetermining their children’s identity. 

Camila cares deeply about social and environmental issues, and she uses Colombian Cumbia Skirts to emphasize the connectivity between these two things. 

With her back to the camera, Camila sits in the middle of a multitiered skirt that flares out around her in a mass of vibrant color and texture. Traditional Colombian crafts, arts and costumes influence Camila, and that comes through in this artwork. Although the skirt is composed of various parts, the circular form reminds the viewer that everything is connected and equally important to the garment’s functionality. If one section is removed, the piece will fall apart. This fragility speaks not only to society, but also to the tenuous balance between humans and the environment, and how if people continue to take carelessly from nature, they risk causing irreparable damage to the wider world.

Les-lie and Camila draw attention to the people who live between mainstream culture in America and the communities on its fringes. Through the fusion of the English and Spanish languages in the title, ‘Unwillingly Sazonado y Morado,’ Les-lie and Camila highlight the tension between needing to communicate with an English-speaking, American audience and wanting to use the Spanish language that is prevalent in their countries and cultures and that ties them to their native roots. Ultimately, these artists draw attention to political, environmental and identity issues, but the style and method in which they explore these subjects is highly personal and entirely their own. 
The Intersubjective World
February 24–27

Oona Bebout and Yinan (Rebecca) Chen
Curated by Chloë Courtney
The perceived boundary between our bodies and the outside world is fundamental to our understanding of selfhood. Vision mediates that experience of the body as a self-contained entity: our gaze emanates
outward, fixing our bodies at the center of perceived reality. Similar to the way the Cartesian grid schematizes boundless space from a single origin point, one-point perspective creates a carefully ordered
reality in which to see is to know, and to know completely. Touch, however, resists this visual hierarchy. Instead of emanating from one point on the human frame, like vision does, touch is commensurate with the body as a whole: the scalp, the small of the back, and the sole of the foot are all keyed to haptic experience. And while our eyes survey an entire vista at a remove, to touch something or someone is always to be touched in return. The Intersubjective World explores what it means to disorder the integration of vision, space, and self, and instead to privilege a fragmentary, relational experience through careful attention to surfaces, textures, and objects.

Oona Bebout approaches all of her work with a sculptor’s attention to volume and space. Thus, her intimately-scaled drawings and the quiescent yet discomfiting painting Harvest transcend their two-dimensionality, prompting an imagined caress of their attractive surfaces and enigmatic forms. Meanwhile, the pristine glossiness of Nest (If I Were Small) scrambles our haptic expectations: organic lines twist together to create a delicate jumble, yet they are improbably wrought of transparent glass rather than the homey twigs, fluff, or yarn the title evokes. Like the proverbial Surrealist “chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table,” this tension between frigid, unyielding glass and the comfortable warmth of nests shocks our haptic sensibilities awake.

Yinan (Rebecca) Chen creates fugitive portrayals of a woman, alone in her home, engaged in everyday rituals. The fragmentation of space and Chen’s keen sense of pattern make these banal moments sublime while also foiling our visual access to the interiors and the women who occupy them. Mirrors and bathrooms become a kind of proscenium for self-examination and documentation, yet the view they offer is always partial. Our visual access to the subject is interrupted by the intermediaries of the mirror, the camera, and the surface of the canvas itself. In her graphic design practice and video works, Chen further complicates the relationship between the body, interiority, and objecthood as faces and bodies fragment into biomorphic shapes of pillowy skin, transgressing the boundary between embodied “reality” and the virtual.

In the wake of the coronavirus attenuating our opportunities for embodied experience, Chen and Bebout’s challenges to the primacy of the visual explore how our senses order understanding and intimacy. The virus itself has undermined the comforting illusion that our bodies operate in isolation from the outside world: rather, selfhood is contingent and always relational. Meanwhile, the opportunity to think through touch and material space provides a powerful function for a world stripped of collective, embodied experience.
Independent Research: Perceived Selves 
March 3 – 6

Derek Koffi-Ziter and Isabella Wang 
Curated by Martina Lentino
How do others’ perceptions influence the way we see ourselves? Through which channels do seemingly disparate thoughts connect, contributing to an inevitably multidimensional state of being? How does the practice of identity formation cope with constant self-reflection and self-criticism? In Independent Research: Perceived Selves artists Isabella Wang and Derek Koffi-Ziter think through these questions in multimedia works that act as explorations of their psyches and lived experiences. Independent Research functions as a snapshot of their respective practices, highlighting self-analysis, introspection, and pluralistic identity as shared conceptual underpinnings. 

Isabella Wang’s practice is a constant effort to make sense of the absurd and complex; Through her practice she attempts to parse through spaces, scale, relationships, associations, and perceptions that exist in seemingly disjointed but inextricably interlinked psychological space. In Wang’s work as both a visual artist and a writer, she communicates honestly, centering radical intimacy and vulnerability. With a preference for saturated color, space, and content, Wang divulges in a maximalist fashion, taking the viewer on as a participant in making meaning of non-linearity and personal history. Her recent painting, Ascension, includes details that require close looking, and exemplifies these qualities. Wang paints with uninhibited creativity and in large scale. In its pictorial elements, the painting is intriguing, disturbing, and absurd. In a highly pigmented, abstracted landscape, a female body with no head or arms sensually leans into the image. If she continues, however, she may fall into the screaming, disembodied face that appears out of incomprehensible space. Around the main action, tiny figures engage in different activities, making one question the already impossible image in its scale. Though physical space may be limiting, the depths of the mind are endless; psychological space and ideas do not hold back.

Derek Koffi-Ziter similarly makes to understand their psychological state. Their multimedia oeuvre unfolds over time as an introspective analysis of constructed identity, and as a practice in continued reflection of their self and their life in critical stages. Koffi-Ziter’s work focuses on the experience of having many marginalized identities, and a desire to assert these identities in the creation of agency and self-discovery. For many years, they have photographed others’ manifestations of their identities. In the recent past, however, Koffi-Ziter’s practice has become an introspective exploration of their interiority and their body in space. Their video/performance, Seeking Solace (2020), emphasizes a desire to create without barriers, and to embrace discomfort for the sake of mental and spiritual transformation. Though taking distance from formal religion, the artist’s naked body in nature, and in water, can be read as a self-baptism– as an initiation into new personal understandings, capacities for communication, and individual spiritualities. They invite us to view this intimate moment of subconscious exploration and patient vulnerability.

Independent Research: Perceived Selves places two very formally distinct oeuvres in conversation, aiming to explore what it might mean to research, share, and comprehend oneself. 
Embodied Space
March 10 – 13

Giovanna Pedrinola and Shane Weiss
Curated by Madeleine Morris
Shane Weiss and Giovanna Pedrinola explore themes of the body as it exists in and interacts with surrounding and internal space. In Embodied Space, Weiss and Pedrinola consider the formal elements of medium, material and activation of the space around their works. 

Rigid architectural geometry meets the organic suppleness of fabric in Pedrinola’s drawings and installations. Born in Brazil, Pedrinola utilizes her personal and artisticheritage in her works, which include drawing, sculpture, textile, and performance to engage with visual, auditory, and haptic sensation. In her drawing Un Ricordo Toscano, Pedrinola selects an architectural detail observed during her studies in Florence and magnifies this into a large-scale colored pencil work. The delicate, neatly colored shapes form geometric patterns, emphasizing the flatness of the drawing while evoking the three-dimensional source. Pedrinola accentuates physicality of craft, in particular quilt patterns, and the bodily intervention of the artist in her hand-dyed linen work Untitled 2020. This brightly colored geometric grid’s loose and wavy forms highlight the hand-made nature of the piece, emphasizing the physical process of constructing its components. Her use of wearable materials underscores the physicality and malleability of fabric; when Pedrinola drapes her fabric pieces onto dancers in her Untitled performance piece, the fabric material is made bodily by the performer. Pedrinola uses these different media to engage with layered intersectionsbetween the body of the artist to the physicality of artwork as well as the viewer’s sensory connection to the surfaces of her drawings and textile works.

While Pedrinola considers the movement of the body within a space, Weiss highlights the physical and corporeal experience of the body as a space. In Caved, Poolside, Weiss constructs an oozing black mass resembling an ambiguous visceral substance; however, at the same time, the form has an organic pumice-stone-like texture. Weiss utilizes scale to recontextualize this clot-like form, allowing the physical presence of bodily components to exist as both repelling and compelling. Weiss expands on their considerations of the body as a space in Untitled installation. Weiss takes apart components of the body and reassembles them, bringing the interior viscera into the open. They engage the viewer into the exploratory process of close looking through scale wherein the massive size leaves the work always partially obscured, forcing the viewer to interact with and therefore animate the space. The play between obscuring and revealing forms parallels performances of gender and experiences of embodiment. Utilizing prosthetics and special effects makeup, Weiss considers the body itself as a malleable medium, highlighting the flexibility and fluidity of physical presentation. Weiss incorporates these experimental facial transformations in performance to enliven and inject narrative into the installation. 

Pedrinola and Weiss both consider interrelationships between bodies and the spaces they occupy through manipulation of scale. Pedrinola’s process-oriented, meditative practice emphasizes the physical bodily intervention of the artist in a work and connects the viewer’s physical presence to surface and texture. By contrast, Weiss considers the body in its corporeal physicality, breaking apart components to reconsider embodiment as a context. These two artists marshal their different media and approaches to consider the multifaceted aspects of embodiment as and within a physical space.