December 9, 2019 | I'm spreading my curatorial wings. After giving Brooklyn-based artist Austance Caroline her first opportunity to exhibit this summer, as part of YouTooCanWoo's 2019 group show, we intensified our collaboration and just revealed her first ever solo exhibition. And that's only the beginning...
Photos from the opening reception: Artist Austance Caroline (middle) with her musician/producer husband Conrad Clifton and me
Austance and I talking to visitors
Pearl gas mask by Austance Caroline
On Sunday, December 8, we brought together friends and supporters at 69 Eldridge Street in Manhattan's Chinatown, an area dotted with independent galleries and shops amidst its vibrant Chinese businesses. All of my hopes were fulfilled with this wonderful celebration of creativity and community.
Austance Caroline creates. She has a kind of envy-provoking creative spirit that spreads to all she touches. She's been making things for years. Yet until now a lot has remained hidden.
It was a beautiful challenge to select work spanning a broad range of media and styles made over a 5-year period. Her past and inner life are present and visible to us in the pieces, and we can feel them in the energy of the space itself. As we enter we walk straight into an installation that forms part of her Melanin Manifesto series. Letters on the floor lead us through the space. We wander through a hanging forest of one-of-a-kind fashion creations from her capsule collection In Search of Elsewhere. We encounter dollar store Barbies and golden toilets and the most beautifully embellished gas masks any apocalypse survivor could hope for. And through it all we get to know Austance better - and in our reactions to her work learn about ourselves.
I wasn't the only one to walk away inspired. One of my favorite visitor reactions was a nighttime text, "I don't remember the last time I was this excited about an artist. I think never."
And there's more... The opening reception served not only as a public debut of Austance's work but the launch of her new creative agency, Fckry Factory. Meanwhile I am working on a short documentary on Austance's artist journey. Stay tuned.
PS: Special shout out to the number one dude, musician and producer Conrad Clifton who set the musical tone for the night with an amazing DJ set and supported us through all our early morning chats and midnight sessions that it took to put this together.