Karyn Olivier "Parlatuvier (Expansion)," 2021. Photo printed on aluminum, asphalt tar roofing. 61 ¾" x 47 ¼" x 1."
Leilah Babirye "Nakatiiti from the Kuchu Grasshopper Clan," 2020. Wood, copper, nails, found objects. 63 ¾" x 29 ½" x 8." Courtesy Gordon Robichaux, NY and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. GREG CARIDEO
The Parrish Art Museum will open “Set It Off,” an exhibition created for the museum and curated by Racquel Chevremont and Mickalene Thomas — collectively known as Deux Femmes Noires — on May 22. “Set It Off” brings together work by an international roster of female artists — Leilah Babirye, Torkwase Dyson, February James, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Karyn Olivier, and Kennedy Yanko — who engage the monumental, the site specific, and/or the immersive in their practice, often combining multiple elements of ready-made, painting, photography, language, sculpture and installation. Featuring more than 50 works, many of which are new or never-before-seen, the exhibition runs through July 24, and will be presented outdoors in the meadow and in the Parrish galleries.
“For ‘Set It Off,’ we wanted to bring together a group of women who work in a range of media and styles and whose subject matter spans the personal, historical, and cultural,” Chevremont and Thomas explained. “Each was chosen for their unique artistic language, for forging their own path, and creating work that transcends traditional formal and art historical structures. These artists have distinct styles that completely set them apart within the art world.”
In conceptualizing the exhibition, Chevremont and Thomas were drawn to the thoughtful integration of the architecture of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Parrish building, as well as its landscape: a 14-acre site in Water Mill. The curators embraced the opportunity to consider the ways artists use and manipulate space to explore identity and place today — a theme that runs through each artists’ practice. Dyson and Rasheed employ minimalism and the grid to explore how intellectual, environmental, and architectural infrastructures are perceived and negotiated. James and Babirye create figurative work that examines personal and collective histories in relation to identity. Olivier and Yanko manipulate everyday objects and materials to create monumentally scaled sculptures that activate history and memory.
The title “Set It Off” — to do something significant, with intensity, or with a hurricane-like force; or to change an atmosphere for the better — points to the varied, impactful work featured in the exhibition.
Each artist uniquely employs materiality, environmental and spatial strategies, memory, historiography, and archival practices as tools to visually articulate their individual and communal experience. By bringing these six women together, Chevremont and Thomas showcase artists who, each in their own right, have “set it off” — creating bold, compelling work that pushes far beyond the perceived limitations of their chosen genres and mediums.
The Parrish Art Musuem is at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For details visit parrishart.org.
One fine body…