Entry 13: NADA Art Fair 2022

At its core, memoirsbychard is a platform that celebrates the established and champions the emerging. In the beginning, it was more of the latter – it was all about telling the stories of the emerging. So with Miami art week being such a renowned week in the art world, you would expect such artists to be pushed to the back, but it was the complete opposite when it came to NADA Art Fair.

An acronym for New Art Dealers Alliance, NADA is a not-for-profit collective of art professionals working with contemporary art. The collective isn’t limited to artists, NADA works with gallery directors, art advisors, curators, writers, museums and other professionals in the art world.

So with a fair such as NADA, I just had to attend while I was in Miami, and with the fair turning 20 years old last year, a major milestone, it was just another reason on that list of why I had to attend.

In total, 146 galleries from across the world exhibited at the fair, and in terms of favourite booths they were Aya Brown at Regular Normal Gallery; Amy Bravo at Swivel Gallery; Emma CC Cook at Et al. Gallery; Siena Smith at Chela Mitchell Gallery.

From the moment I stepped into the booth of Regular Normal Gallery, I was instantly hit with a wave of nostalgia. The works were reminiscent of childhood pictures – printed images from film cameras. The works had a gloss, similar to the printed film pictures. As visitors to the booth, we were given a window into the artist’s childhood – from birthdays to summer holidays.

Aja and Aya at Poppy’s house, Brooklyn NY #1 by Aya Brown at Regular Normal Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio
Aja and Aya Halloween, Brooklyn NY #1 by Aya Brown at Regular Normal Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio
Aja’s 5th birthday party at school, Brooklyn NY #1 by Aya Brown at Regular Normal Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Next was Swivel Gallery and their solo presentation of Amy Bravo. Amy Bravo is someone who I’ve been following for years – a talented individual whose work I’ve longed to see in person. Bravo took complete control of the booth and created these immersive scenes for visitors to explore. Across the series of works shown, we see a variety of figures. Some figures are interacting with each other, and some are by themselves holding objects. Along with that, we see some conceptual pieces too. Bravo explains that the works examine her family history, in particular, her grandfather’s journey into the afterlife.

Desheredar (The Sacrifice) by Amy Bravo at Swivel Gallery. Photo Credit: Raphael Oliveira
Ay Dios Mio! Sali como Usted! (Transformation I) by Amy Bravo at Swivel Gallery. Photo Credit: Raphael Oliveira
Psychopomp Machine by Amy Bravo at Swivel Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Next up is Emma CC Cook, and I was drawn to these works due to the materials, the colours, and the scenes presented. The works explore various places across the Midwest of America. The artist uses different locations from her memories and strips them of their idiosyncrasies. Once done, she then injects them with capitalism and monoculture. Her intention in this process is to piece together the myth of America and her place in it.

Emma CC Cook at Et al. Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio
Emma CC Cook at Et al. Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Last is Siena Smith, and she exhibited with Chela Mitchell Gallery. 2022 was the year I developed a love for tapestry, and it’s booths such as this that further cement that adoration.

Smith sees her work as an emotional release. It is a way in which she understands the complexities of her everyday emotions and Black identity. In these various works, we see black figures, and they display these enigmatic expressions. It’s an enthralling conversation between the art and the audience since we don’t know if these figures are sad or experiencing joy.

Siena Smith at Chela Mitchell Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

With regards to favourite artists from the fair, we first have Melissa Joseph. During my time at NADA, I encountered an array of Canadian galleries, with my favourite being Bradley Ertaskiran Gallery, which had works by Melissa Joseph. The first time I saw the artist’s work in person was in New York, at Jeffrey Deitch’s group show titled Wonder Women.

What captivates me is the artist’s use of wool. The artist’s aim is to unite people through collective memories and shared experiences. Her practice addresses themes of diaspora, family histories, and the politics of how we occupy spaces.

Supersibs by Melissa Joseph at Bradley Ertaskiran Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Next is Kareem-Anthony Ferreira, who was part of a group presentation with Towards Gallery. “A scene out of a summer BBQ” is how I describe this piece; I immediately think of themes such as family and community. Black portraiture is synonymous with the artist’s practice, as he uses it to explore patterns of personal, familial, and social identity.

Good Stress by Kareem-Anthony Ferreira at Towards. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Another standout is Anthony Akinbola. A rising star in the art world who has truly made a name for himself. The artist uses durags – a staple item used by black men. Akinbola transforms this commodity into a symbol of wealth and status; he uses this material to address wider issues of identity, respectability, and the commodification of African American culture.

Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola at Carbon 12 Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Rahn Marion’s painting titled Little Big Fires is based on a farming method used in Arkansas, farmers burn the soil to make it fertile again. Marion states that this piece was created during the pandemic, in the wake of George Floyd’s death. As events unfolded and protests occurred across America, the artist saw nationwide rage and confusion. He could feel the country’s pain, but it was through this pain that he saw salvation being created, and this is what Little Big Fires symbolises.

Little Big Fires by Rahn Marion at Tone HQ Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Next is Sarah Margnetti, who infuses elements of architecture in her work. The artist has developed a pictorial style that combines optical illusions and abstract forms.

Back Curtain by Sarah Margnetti at Margot Samel. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

The last artist is Kiyan Williams, a multi-talented individual whose catalogue comprises of sculptures, performances, videos, and installations. For NADA, Williams had an installation of a stretched deep-fried US flag titled Suspended Flag (On Power and Captivity) with Lyles & King. From the moment I saw this installation, I was instantly fascinated by its creative process. I had so many questions because Williams is an artist whose work tackles historical, political, and ecological thought. Themes such as these make me think of Williams’ relationship with the US, for example, what’s their experience of the US, and how has the US treated them? Because as the artist states, it is through these themes which we are forced to shape our individual and collective identities.

Suspended Flag (On Power and Captivity) by Kiyan Williams at Lyles & King. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Fairs such as NADA have an important place in the art world. They are critical to the voices of those who are new/emerging. All too often, those voices can be overshadowed and even silenced by the big fairs and galleries. But if we want an equitable art world for everyone who participates in it, then fairs such as NADA need to continue since they lead us in the right direction.

Featured Image: Home To Roost by Amy Bravo at Swivel by Raphael Oliveira

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