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Nina Chanel Abney's Art Exhibit Opens at Gateway Project Spaces in Newark, Depicting Role of Politics, Race, Power, and Sexuality

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NEWARK, NJ - Project For Empty Space at Gateway Project Spaces is pleased to present If You Say So… a solo exhibition by artist in residence Nina Chanel Abney on February 10, 2016, from 6pm - 9pm.  A series of limited edition prints created for the exhibition will be released in conjunction with the opening reception.

If You Say So… is an exhibition of large scale paintings and collages created by the artist during a recent trip to Brazil and during her residency in Newark. The works are comprised of brilliantly hued geometries, alphanumeric forms, and androgynous figures. Hyperpigmented blues, blinding oranges, and curvaceous yet precise monochrome silhouettes of faces samba across the giant canvases. And yet, despite the apparent gaiety and vibrancy of Abney’s works, the conceptual genesis of this collection  is borne from the nefarious and widespread transnational pandemic of racial discrimination, economics, and police brutality. 

At its inception, If You Say So… was Abney’s reaction to a New York Times Op-Ed ‘In Denial About Racism in Brazil’ by Vanessa Barbara, discussing the unwavering and rampant trend of police brutality against young black and brown bodies in the favelas. The solid-colored arch forms found in the work draw from São Paulo’s   rich architectural lexicon, while the intermittent bursts of electric spray-paint is a nod to  a tradition of street art and favela visual culture. The works that were started in Brazil were only the starting point for a much more expansive discourse on race. There is an obvious contextual parallel between the killings in São Paulo that first galvanized If You Say So… and the social climate in the United States, particularly in America’s metropolises.

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The role of politics, race, power, and sexuality are at the heart of much of Abney’s work. Her recent solo exhibition, Always A Winner, directly addressed police brutality and the #Blacklivesmatter movement in America. Her work pulls from contemporary politics and pop culture and addresses them through a practice of absurdly exaggerated forms, anti-realism, and an adamantly  pop aesthetic . Her sensibility pulls from a vast mix of sources ranging from  South Park to Romare Bearden. 

Nina Chanel Abney was born in Chicago in 1982. She received her BFA from Augustana College in 2004, and her MA from Pratt University in 2007. Abney’s works have been featured in several significant institutions and collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Nasher Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Rubell Collection. Nina lives in Jersey City and is represented by Kravets-Wehby gallery in New York City. 

About Project For Empty Space

Project For Empty Space is a not-for-profit organization that creates socially engaging, multidisciplinary art exhibitions and programming that encourage social dialogue, education, and systemic change for cultural tolerance. This mission is achieved through a permanent project/gallery space, an incubator program for artists addressing social change, and through collaborative and interactive programs in vacant and neglected spaces in cities around the world.The organization’s primary space is located within Gateway Project Spaces in 2 Gateway Center in Downtown Newark, New Jersey. 

About Gateway Project Spaces

Gateway Project Spaces, recently referred to as The Gateway Project, began in 2012, as a series of pop up art exhibitions that were activated intermittently throughout The Gateway Center. Gateway Project Spaces expanded in 2015 to become a multifaceted arts hub that houses artist studios, workshops, residency program, and gallery space. The gallery and residency program is operated by the non-profit arm of the arts hub, Project For Empty Space. Gateway Project Spaces' mission is to enliven the community through interactive and stimulating art exhibitions. The gallery space rotates exhibitions every six weeks, providing participation opportunities to regional, national and international curators and artists. Gallery exhibitions are open to the public, Monday - Friday from 11am – 6pm, for events and by appointment. Gateway Project Spaces is located in downtown Newark, NJ, in 2 Gateway Center, adjacent to Newark Pennsylvania Station. http://gatewayprojectspaces.com/ 

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