Emerging Artists: 2023-2024

MoAD's Emerging Artists Program (EAP) is excited to announce our 2023-24 cohort of artists.


Our Emerging Artists Program highlights local, emerging, and mid-career visual artists and art collectives through solo exhibitions that reflect the cultural and artistic richness of the African diaspora.

Ramekon O’Arwisters: Freeform and Razor-Sharp

In this exhibition, we have selected key sculptures from O'Arwisters’ studio that span several years of his formal experimentations and place them in conversation with his additional practice of black-and-white photography. As an extension of his conceptual process, these self-portraits employ a transference of materials from O’Arwisters’ sculptures to create a sharp and intimate dialogue with his own body.

Freeform and Razor-Sharp - Ramekon O'Arwisters

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On view:

April 5, 2023-June 11, 2023

Nimah Gobir: Holding Space

Holding Space unveils a suite of small- and large-scale figurative paintings that uplift home, homemaking and belonging in the context of immigrant narratives. Through depictions of family members and loved ones in everyday situations, Holding Space humanizes the Black experience and pays homage to Black families. Embroidery, pattern, and textile motifs convey the layered expressive textures inherent to family homes. This exhibition is a meditation on how homes are places that hold secrets, histories, and vestiges of loved ones.

Holding Space - Nimah Gobir

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On view:

June 14, 2023-August 20, 2023

Salimatu Amabebe: SON

In SON, Salimatu Amabebe opens the door to reconsider the relationship between home, memory, and metamorphosis. The deep red interior, reminiscent of blood, invites reflection son the domestic space as one of close kinship ties, yet subject to dynamic change. The pewter casts in the space draw from the artist’s personal archive to preserve but also to probe the inherited lessons from his father including masculinity & movement. We observe how the inexactness of repetition acts as a productive improvisation of self-creation. Such gaps demonstrate how the memories we hold in our bodies enable performative acts of transfiguration& imagination.

SON is Amabebe’s first solo museum exhibition.

Co-curated by Salimatu Amabebe & Key Jo Lee, Chief of Curatorial Affairs & PublicPrograms at MoAD.

Text by Luke Williams, Emerging Artists Program Fellow.

Salimatu Amabebe - SON

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On view:

September 27, 2023 - December 10, 2023

Lishan AZ: Eugene’s Cove

In 1919, at a segregated beach on the south side of Chicago, 17-year-old Eugene Williams was killed by a white gang after he accidentally floated across the color line. Eugene’s Cove explores the relationship between Black folks and water by imagining an underwater world where those we thought drowned sank and became something more. Drawing on mythology and historical events from across the diaspora, through 35mm film photography, soundscape, installation, and video, this exhibit immerses the viewer in a world in which Eugene’s laughter rings out, taunting “You tried to drown me, but I’m just down here thriving.”

On view:

December 13, 2023-March 3, 2024

EAP 2022–23 Cohort

Cynthia Aurora Brannvall: The Threads That Bind March 30, 2022 — June 12, 2022

The Threads that Bind is an allusion to a body of artwork rendered in textiles to evoke memory, presence, labor, trade, industry, slavery, luxury, baptisms, weddings, funerals, gender, and history in the African diaspora. The concept and material of thread creates meaning as an ancestral carrier traveling through time across borders through voluntary and involuntary migration from one body to another. The bind refers to shared experiences of trauma, oppression and perseverance that cohere in black identity.

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Richard-Jonathan Nelson: Interlacing Distributed Intelligence/ Noir Care June 22, 2022 — September 18, 2022

The Black body and craft can be intermeshed to depict our western culture's speculative future no matter how foreign the idea of Black craft is outside of the American Low country. Through the hybridizing of traditional craft practices like embroidery, weaving, and quilting along with digital art, the Black body is reimagined as a place for futuristic progress. Thereby creating images of the Black Diaspora far removed from continued historic depiction as servile and without agency, but instead as visual and culturally complex individuals. The work is balanced visually between the dichotomy of Blackness as an expansive unknowable monolithic void and a chromatically intense generator of culture.

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Trina Michelle Robinson: Excavation: Past, Present and Future: October 5, 2022 – December 11, 2022

Using early photography and motion picture processes, Excavation looks at the relationship between memory and migration. Robinson’s ancestry is the catalyst for this exploration, but the work also looks at stories of migration and memory outside of her immediate family. In Paul Virilio's The Vision, the author talks about capturing the impression of someone or something rather than producing an exact copy when it comes to creating an image. An ethereal copy is Robinson’s approach when considering the excavation of memories. An exact replica might not be possible, but we can get a glimpse, hold on, and sit with what remains so we can move forward into the future. Hopefully we can move into the future together.

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Ashley Ross: 10/27/03 December 21, 2022 – March 5, 2023

10/27/03 is a body of work that surveys the ways in which experiential dualities can exist within the confines of a religious upbringing. Bringing together staged black and white photographs, familial archive layered works, and installation, this body of work uses photography and personal memorabilia to illustrate ideas about indoctrination and legacy within the black familial structure. Whether through visual allegories or the artist’s personal explorations of religion, each photographic work represents the process of rumination and memory when confronting one’s own former spiritual experience allowing the viewer to contemplate the ways in which we internalize belief systems.

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