"The Best Art In The World"
By CLARE GEMIMA May, 2023
Location: 216 Lafayette St, New York
Private Preview: 6 PM - 10 PM, Friday, May 26, 2023
Fair Dates: Saturday, May 27, 2023 - Monday, May 29, 2023
Fair Hours: 11 AM - 7 PM
Mark your calendars for May 27 - 29 as Stilllife, the visionary global art community established by a diverse group of Gen-Z entrepreneurs, presents its sixth public event, the Stilllife Art & Design Fair, 2023. Located at 216 Lafayette St, this immersive, weekend-long fair will celebrate diversity, innovative curation of visual arts, and culturally conscious programming. Divided into two sections, the fair will present LIFE, a showcase of 19 next-generation creators exhibiting their illustrations, ceramics, fashion lines, and more. The fair's other section, STILL, collaborates with seven emerging artists to spotlight their consigned paintings, sculptures and installations - works which collectively and boldly push boundaries, and the comfortability of their audience’s connection to natural, virtual, and imagined realms. I wanted to understand more about the seven STILL artists Jordan Homstad, Nianxin Li, Yissho Oh, SiiGii, Huidi Xiang, Echo Yan, and Ji Zou, and ask them how they feel to be included in the first ever Stilllife’s Art & Design Fair, an exciting event dedicated to New York’s next generation of artists, curators, and collectors.
Before doing so, I spoke to Sihan Guo, Stilllife’s creative director, and curator of exhibitions to understand how she began her mission of seeking out talented individuals to bring Stilllife’s first fair vision to life. In her own words, “discovering these ultra-young artists through Instagram and open studio visits, I gradually noticed how a shared inquisitiveness of present-day generational problems emerged from their spontaneously different paths of art making. All of the artists closely examine the transmutation of the human body and agency through curious choices of material and perspective. As their contemporary, we are excited to be able to collaborate with them directly, and to expand this resonance to the public.”
One of the seven artists, Jordan Homstad uses paint to consider the intersections of collage, virtual space, sexuality, and human connection. Working in oil, acrylic, and flashe on canvas, Homstad’s work blurs the lines between graphic mark making, illustrative renderings, and hyper realistically painted motifs. “I’m so excited to be in conversation with the other incredible artists featured in the STILL section, and I believe this space will foster new connections between my paintings and the emerging Gen-Z art world” they told me. Currently based in New York City, their work has also been shown throughout Minnesota, and Illinois. They received their BFA in Studio Art from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, with a second major in Art History. Homstad is currently pursuing an MFA in Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design.
Huidi Xiang, an artist I have been lucky enough to previously interview, will also have sculptures on display which often examine world-making processes within the contexts and narratives of late, present day capitalism. Xiang has a current solo show, when held properly, an incredibly intimate collection of sculptures showing at Tutu Gallery, which will run concurrently with Stilllife’s fair. “What excites me the most about participating in Stilllife’s Art & Design Fair is that my work can be showcased on an innovative platform with unconventional curation and programming”, Huidi told me, “I also appreciate how Stilllife supports the younger generation of creative practitioners, and I’m thrilled to be part of this growing community.”
The painter, illustrator, and performance artist Ji Zou feels equally as excited to meet other emerging artists and individuals who share the same values of community building as they do. “The themes and the aesthetics I'm exploring are influenced by my experience as a young artist living in New York City, as well as by my cross-cultural Hmong and Chinese backgrounds as someone growing up in Michigan. I often try to bridge my subjective experiences with objective realities through the medium of paint. I draw inspiration from dreams, personal experiences, spiritual practices, and cultural mythologies.”
SiiGii, another of the seven artists, will showcase their anatomically focused sculptures this year. “There’s something magical about emerging artists and curators working together… the excitement these groups of creatives have in presenting new approaches gets to powerfully travel into the hearts of spectators,” they told me after sharing it was an honor to be part of Stilllife’s first ever fair. SiiGii is a trans, non-binary practitioner originally from Spain, whose works are referred to as ‘sculptural choreography’— a still, mindful performance in which each piece expresses itself through posture and presence. In referring to their studio process, SiiGii believes it goes far beyond making something to look at, “I am healing myself and my audience.”
Echo Yan, who will graduate from NYU next year, said that she’s excited to see how her sculptures will be presented within the context of the STILL section exhibition, and to contribute to the ongoing conversation about the transformative forces shaping the world. Her recent paintings indulge in the amalgamations of submission and dominance, and explore the anthropological hypothesis of humanity’s self-domestication, and behavioural traits. “Being part of this exhibition provides me with a unique opportunity to engage with a wider audience, and to challenge traditional anthropocentric concepts through my work.”
As a painter and tattoo artist, Yissho Oh has always been exploring the intersection of different cultures, and how they can be visualised through various forms of non-traditional mark making. He told me he was most excited about showing his pieces within a setting that emphasises the reinterpretation and adaptation of intercultural aesthetics for modern and contemporary audiences. “I’m excited about the potential to connect with other artists, and establish new connections within the intercultural community that Stilllife is fostering. By coming together and sharing our artistic visions, we can not only expand our own horizons, but also potentially create a sense of solidarity that transcends cultural barriers.” Yissho Oh believes that participating in Stilllife’s fair will allow him to show his work to a wider audience, which will engage people from a diverse range of backgrounds. “By embracing a greater diversity of cultures, we can enrich our own creative practices and collectively create a more inclusive and accepting art community.”
Last but certainly not least, painter Nianxin Li will showcase her fluorescent, and love fueled acrylic works which consider the artist's personal upbringing, and surrounding ideas of normalcy versus alternativeness in childhood. “I feel so lucky to be able to engage with fellow artists, critics, and art enthusiasts who are equally as passionate about pushing the boundaries of traditional art as me… the voice of our generation is finally being heard.
Stilllife Art & Design Fair will also feature the debut of After Hours programming, aimed to provide the community with an educational space, fit for mutual sharing and networking. The first After Hours program, "Journeys in Collecting Emerging Art," will be hosted by The Here and There Collective (THAT). Co-founders Steven Abraham and Lisa Young will engage in a conversation between Kathy Huang, the managing director of Jeffrey Deitch, and gallery owner Will Leung who will share their personal experiences with the community’s next-generation of collectors. The second After Hours program, "Molding Queerness," will be hosted by art historian Dr. Ksenia M. Soboleva who will engage in a discussion with two STILL section artists, Jordan Homstad and SiiGii, to discuss and unpack the queer elements within both of their artistic practices. After Hours will be held after the first (May 27) and third days (May 29) of the fair, from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
A huge congratulations to all of the artists and creatives participating in the first edition of Stilllife’s Art & Design Fair: STILL Section: Jordan Homstad, Nianxin Li, Yissho Oh, SiiGii, Huidi Xiang, Echo Yan, Ji Zou. LIFE Section: Mi Chen, Tianqi Chen, Vanilla Chi, Michele Xiaoyun Fan, Soobin Jeon, Mellow Li, Vanessa Lozito, Angela Wei, Wenjing Yang, Zhiyu You, Renyue Zhang, Bonnie Zhou, Beadaholic, Cup of Jasmine, Daisy Lane, Fireplace Concepts, MOMU, Mona Jewelry, Press Button Press, Starry House Studio, urbn rewrrk, and Wenjüe Lu.
For more information about the fair, visit: https://stilllifeart.space/stilllife-art-design-fair, and don't forget to RSVP for free at: https://stilllifeartdesignfair.eventbrite.com
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Clare Gemima contributes art criticism to The Brooklyn Rail, Contemporary HUM, and other international art journals with a particular focus on immigrant painters and sculptors who have moved their practice to New York. She is currently a visual artist mentee in the New York Foundation of Art’s 2023 Immigrant mentorship program.view all articles from this author