Contemporary Digital Art Fair

CDAF is happening June 25-28. This is a moment to participate and both educate. If you would like to be a part of this ongoing initiative in digital arts and galleries take a look. Visitors are free.

LIBERTY ART AWARD 2020

CADAF is collaborating with Liberty Specialty Markets to support young artists working with digital and new media art. As a first step, a 3000 Euro Liberty Art Award will be given to a young digital artist participating in CADAF Online.

Please note that the award is limited to the digital artists who apply to CADAF main section. This excludes artists exhibiting within other partner sections. LEARN MORE


APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN UNTIL JUNE 15 (EXTENDED)

The virtual art fair will provide the opportunity for galleries and independent artists to showcase and sell works in virtual booths and communicate through chat rooms with collectors and visitors. A livestream of talks and panels will complement the experience.APPLY NOW


Lost and Found: Decoding the Visual Capital of Artist Judith Scott

Fig. 1 Judith Scott (American, 1943‒2005). Untitled, 1993. Fiber and found objects, 44 x 10 x 10 in. (111.8 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm). Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland. © Creative Growth Art Center. (Photo: © Benjamin Blackwell)

Judith Scott was an internationally recognized artist that came to her craft late in life. Scott began art making in her 40’s and did so without fail until the age of 61 when she died. What makes her work so unique is the undeniable emotive quality that is created with both positive space and various colors of yarn loosely lain in some areas and pulled tightly in others. In the survey of the artists’ work entitled Bound and Unbound, exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, we are provided an entry point into the methodology that she employed while making her work. The reasoning behind her artwork remains an enigma because of her disability and her inability to verbally express herself. However, when analyzing the biographical information given about the artist, we are better able to observe the historical context in which these works were referenced. As a result, one could argue that it was Scott’s formative years in an institution, the relationship with her twin sister, and the creative license she was given to explore her craft deeply informed the visual language she developed within the works we see today.

Fig. 2 Untitled (1989), right. Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Scott was known around the Creative Growth Center to appropriate various items and use them in her artwork. [1]When an artist is seeking materials to use in assemblage each artifact has meaning specific to their inner dialogue long before it is brought into a larger discussion. In this piece she has chosen long bright red and blue sticks, with a green beading at the top and a yellow bead at the bottom. Small intricate beads are woven together around the object in a pattern shaped like a child’s hairbrush. The pieces are small and delicate and require focus and a steady hand. The artists’ keen relationship with color is evident with her color theory application. It could be suggested that she spent lots of time throughout her years in silence observing the minutiae of her environment. This hairbrush like structure gives off a playful presentation that evokes childhood. Perhaps an early memory of her sister, or mother, and the intimacy shared within the simplicity of grooming. 


[1] Hassaneldibi “Judith Scott at The Museum of Everything BBC Culture Show 2011.” 2012, 7:37. (Hassaneldibi 2012)

Fig. 3 Judith Scott (American, 1943‒2005). Untitled, 2004. Fiber and found objects, 21 x 16 x 16 in. (53.3 x 40.6 40.6 cm). Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland. © Creative Growth Art Center. (Photo: © Benjamin Blackwell)

Photo courtesy of @Granta

As Judith Scott became more comfortable in her art making, she expressed joy and liked to joke around and have fun. In the final artwork shown, she makes bold color choices. She effortlessly juxtaposes yellows, pinks, red, browns with a hint of blue peeking out from underneath a hood like structure. The colors give it a lighthearted feel and is representative of the hallmark of her work. Scott had a masterful eye for color that could possibly be attributed to her highly observant nature. It appears if there is an upside-down shape resembling a hat on top of the circular cylinder shape. The colors feel festive as if in a celebration. Following a trajectory of her work, she had seemed to reach a point of autonomy and joy within her visual language. The light colors draped around the cylinder with the more somber colors peeking through shows a play on light and is uplifting. 

This survey of Judith Scott’s work in Bound and Unbound at the Brooklyn Museum is a testament to the remarks of feminist disability Scholar Rosmarie Garland-Thomas when she writes that,” human identity is multiple and unstable. That all analysis and evaluation have political implications.”[1] In the context of Scott’s work there has been a lot of debate surrounding her disability. The ongoing debate is whether her disability should be mentioned when creating a visual analysis of her work. One could argue that Scott’s disability allowed her to develop a high level of sensitivity that informed her choices as an artist.  Catherine Morris, curator of the exhibit states that the artists’ work is “not autobiographical.” She also writes that,” the sculptures she made were not metaphorical.” [2] I would concur similarly with Faye Hirsch’s  review of the exhibit calling for viewers to make include her biography as a respect to her achievements.[3] I would go further and state that with her limited connections to the outside world Judith Scott had early memories of her life before she was separated from her family She witnessed and possibly experienced suffering while institutionalized, which could symbolize the wrapping of objects and keeping them together or safe. The artwork that she created as she gained comfort and confidence appeared anthropomorphic and possibly symbolized feeling, albeit not intellectually reasoned, comfort she experienced reuniting with her sister and in creating art at the center. Based on those facts we can look at her work in a different way and provide new meaning. 


[1] Garland-Thomas, Rosemarie 2002. “Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory.” NWSA Journal, Vol. 14, No. 3, Feminist Disability Studies (Autumn, 2002), pp. 1-32. Accessed May 24, 2020 (Garland-Thomas 2002)

[2] Morris, Catherine. “Bound and Unbound.” 2014. New York City. Prestel Publishing. (Morris 2014)

[3] Hirsch, Faye. “Judith Scott.” Art in America. February 3, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.artnews.com/art-in-america/aia-reviews/judith-scott-2-61864/

Black Radical Women Artists 1965-1985

I had the fortune of partaking in an intimate virtual lecture with Catherine Morris, curator, of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art locates the @brooklynmuseum. Lots of these wonderful artists featured in these exhibits you may learn about on my new site chiaratoyebi.com along with many nameless, faceless creators that add meaning and hold up a mirror to our societies. Their art pushes boundaries and moves forward the agendas for change we all are part of. These artists, especially women artists of color, domestically and globally need to be recognized and supported for the amazing work they do. Art is healing. In the words of artist and friend @imanasfari “art makes a home happy.” Nothing is more true than the latter statement. In times of crisis we must create. These books are about black women that demanded to be hurt. That struggled to bring their visions and voices to life and be heard when no one seemed to be listening. Curated by Rujeko Hockley and Catherine Morris together they created the amazing treasure trove of a sourcebook “ We wanted A Revolution. Black Radical Women 1965 to 1985.”

Avant Garde vs. New Art Hustle: Painter Monica Kim Garza

‘i smoke when i drank’, 2017 | © Monica Kim Garza

Avant Garde vs Post Modern Artists

There will always be truth or the search for it in art. This desire will cause artists to be heard and seen in their art making and museums to make the decisions to be inclusive or experience the antagonistic nature of artists deciding to forge their own paths and bring art to the masses. 

According to Tate Modern the term Avant Garde applies, “to all art that pushes the boundaries of ideas and creativity” and is more or less synonymous with modern.[i] In that sense, there will always be a truth reflected in modern art whether it is soulful, spiritual or tangible. Outside of the shocking the displays that took place during the Brooklyn Museum’s opening of “Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, contemporary art has seemed to come in alignment with the current social issues, but in a more subdued form. 

As a culture, the Biennales in the past have always been filled with political references and feminist statements, yet in 2005, MOMA’s art director Glenn D. Lowry noted that the quieter Biennale made you “look you look at art in a new way.”[ii] Many collectors felt that all of it was something they had seen before.  What new is being done? What more can we see?

This is dissent between collectors, institutions and artists alike can be attributed expected with the onslaught of voices that currently fill the world. As contemporary art shifts more and more from an elite culture to a more democratized and accessible platform, artists the pendulum in art bound to swing both ways. In his book Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture, Scholar Michael Kammen states the willingness of museum directors to incorporate provocative art because of the crowds that they draw.[iii] In essence, art still shocks, but maybe not so much in the way that it needed to.

Most art patrons have seen the nude form. The current social issues of the day allow call for gender equity, racial justice, sexual freedoms and these are reflected in today’s art scene. Yet with all of these things coming forth in society it still is not fully represented in elite art circles. 

As a result, artists are drawing crowds to their Instagram and social media platforms to be heard. 

For example, Korean and Mexican painter Monica Kim Garz uses her medium to showcase  nude body positive women of color experiencing everyday life. 

If Lisa Yuskavage’s work is rife with nude prepubescent girls in positions that call forth an American Apparel ad, Garza’s images are decidedly opposite. They are curvy, cute, smoking and eating Chipotle. 

There is a whimsical and chill vibe to her work. For many people, seeing nude women cooking and talking in the kitchen may seem crass. However, in Garza’s paintings, it looks like an everyday occurrence. As more images like the paintings Garza creates travels the globe art will continue to become more inclusive and less shocking.  Perhaps what has been seen as extraordinary will become more ordinary as more of society and the personal reflections and representations of different communities become more evident.

Garza’s work can be seen at the New Image Art Gallery Online. 

http://www.newimageartgallery.com/monica-kim-garza

[1] Vogel, Carol, “Subdued Biennale Forgoes Shock Factor.” The New York Times. 13 June 2005. Accessed 16 May 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/13/arts/design/subdued-biennale-forgoes-shock-factor.html

Kay Hassan South African Mixed Media Artist

Kay Hassan, Passage of Time, 2014, vintage record and radio installation. 

Contemporary Artists used art to stimulate audiences in unconventional ways. Rather than creating art intended for business, they focused on pleasure art and were interested in entertaining and provoking their audiences. Many of them used their art to prompt the public into rethinking culture. Some artists created art that provoked to stimulate or motivate, some provoked to delight their audiences, while others created to provoke interest or investigation.

For South African Contemporary Artist Kay Hassan music serves as both a time capsule and a soulful companion. In his work “Passage of Time,” Hassan uses over 160 album covers from various artists accompanied by stacks of radios placed carefully on top of each other, playing a range of music designed to stimulate emotion in the viewer as well as entertain them. Of his musical choice Hassan says:

“Music plays an integral part in our lives. Music brings happiness when there is a kind of sadness. It will fill a space when a space is empty,” Hassan says in a gallery video. “These are past dreams. If you look at those covers, they tell so much stories. There are beautiful sweet memories in these records. I guide these memories. Even if I am not related to these people, I can relate to the music and the beauty of music and the beauty of sound.”[1]

As a result of Hassan’s juxtaposition of the album covers to the sounds of the music, he nor to only entertains he evokes pleasure by providing both a visual and auditory reference to inspire memories.  


[1] Victoria L. Valentine, “Kay Hassan Uses Everyday Materials to Tell Compelling Stories,” Culture Type 13 November 2014. Accessed 12 May 2020 https://www.culturetype.com/2014/11/13/kay-hassan-uses-everyday-materials-to-tell-compelling-stories/

Lorna Simpson: The Absence of Color

Portrait, 1988

The 1980s will go down in history as a time that American’s were finding their true voice. Women, LGBTQ, communities of color, and women across the nation were demanding to be heard amidst the bullhorns of Reaganomics and conservative politics. The now-famous -pop art style of the ’80s that was signature to artists like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat depicted the various social issues of the time visually captivating images that utilized repetition as a technique or drew viewers in with their bold color palettes. These artworks and the artists themselves were making bold statements about the world we live in and made us ask questions. Somewhat on the outskirts of the (pop)-ular Pop Art movement were many African-American photographers making art that dealt with the obstacles of navigating race, gender, and sexuality in America.

At the forefront of that effort was Brooklyn based artist Lorna Simpson. Her work, similar to Baltimore based artist, Zoe Charlton ‘s work deals with debunking stereotypes concerning black men and women. Where Charlton is masterful with her pencil art, Simpson uses black and white photography to deconstruct the images of black women in order to show their many layers. In the absence of flash or color, the viewer focuses on the moment in which the subject exists with pretense.

In doing so, Simpson concludes there is nothing more “magical” about a black woman than in any other woman. Yet by honing in her in this way with out overly pronounced bosoms and backsides, she was able to draw attention to the sensuality in the mundane that is her body. She too, like every other woman is that—a woman in her many facets.

The intimate image the artist captures is a sharp contrast to other artist that seek to explore the black woman in another way. For example, Kerry James Marshall’s untitled work Beach Towel displays a very vulnerable and seductive black woman on a beach towel in a backyard. Of course, we are also this representation as well. Or a revelation if you will. 

All of these images challenge the ongoing conversation of how black women and their image show up in the world. 
For more information on work by Lorna Simpson visit: lsimpsonstudio.com

Heal Thyself With ART

It is coming up on the two year anniversary of the date that my daughter was diagnosed with ATRT. ATRT is a rare form of a brain cancer that is found mainly in children and has a very poor prognosis. It is extremely aggressive and as I said it is extremely rare. You either have a genetic disposition or bad luck. My daughter was the latter case. She was three years old when she was diagnosed in November of 2015. She went on to have had 18 beautiful months of life after her diagnosis some in the hospital and a lot out of the hospital and with her family. However none of it without a lot of worry and anxiety and pain. Sadly, she passed away at home on August 4, 2017. As you can imagine for a mother who lost her only daughter very recently this is still a journey, however, this is not a tormented one at all. I am not broken. I am however, different.
This post is not about that in a sense. However, it is about the magical mystery of self healing if you are open to it. Her life, her journey, and our journey together as a family is what compelled me to start this blog. Helping a child fight cancer I imagine is very different than helping an adult. My daughter wore her princess dress all through her treatment, never complained, and was generally all smiles. She taught me a lot about courage and living life to the fullest. She taught me about facing life with a smile even in your darkest circumstances.
I was the only one to hold her when she was having her final moments. I would not have had it any other way as her mother. Holding her in my arms I could tell that the child that I knew her as had left a very long time ago, and that she was all spirit in my arms, and so much of that spirit was going back and forth between her and I. It was flowing back and forth and during that time she was filling me with everything.
I noticed that even a child, a very small human being goes on to the other side alone. They come in to the world alone and they go out alone. What I am most comforted by is that she did not suffer at all. In that very moment there was not any fear to be had, only love.
In the days leading up to her passing I had spoken to her and gotten many things off of my chest. I would encourage anyone to do this if they have a sick child. I asked for forgiveness. If I had failed her as a mother in anyway. I ran down the whole line. All the small and big things I could remember and she would squeeze my finger. When she stopped squeezing I told her I loved her and we would always be together and she could go. She didn’t go immediately. Don’t let doctors or Hospice or anyone rush your loved one off either. They know with the Divine when they are ready. My daughter is with me. I feel no brokenness. Her mission with her family is being carried out. I honor it every day. She was a truly creative soul. Before Calais passed away I made art casually. I also made it with the kids at school or with Calais and her Art therapist. I love the work of the Art therapist. I think what they do is very special. Now I make art like she did every single day and colors fill my home. Art is such a huge part of my healing. Art is life. It does not take a lot to grab a pad a paint brush and let your subconscious go to work for you and begin to create. I encourage you to create. Hang that art on your wall. Spend 30 minutes each day drawing. Spend 30 minutes each day doing a craft and filling your house with colors and seeing the change that shaping your environment with art does for your well-being. That is what this blog is about. That is what my daughter’s legacy is about. She was ahead of her time for such a small child and she lived and breathed art and creativity and left all of that behind with us. This is something that I want to share with you. Send me a photo of what you are doing. What inspires you? What you are working on? Grief and Loss can be a new beginning not the end. It can open the door and be a portal to your loved one for open communication to the divine to explore purpose, healing, community, closure. The portal here is art. From there you may go on to do other things. Find a local Art Therapist if you can and start connecting. If you cannot. You will find things here as I build my daughter’s foundation. Let’s connect. Let’s hold space for each other. Be well together. Let’s continually lift each other up in love. Until next time.

Chiara