The Aesthetics of Matter, curated by Mickalene Thomas and Racquel Chevremont

Mickalene Thomas and Racquel Chevremont will assemble The Aesthetics of Matter across a 2,600-square-foot space in the heart of PIER 90, an array of freestanding museum-style walls that afford and en- courage dialogue between artists, as well as a specifc focus in contrast to the traditional booth architecture and solo projects surrounding it. “This exhibition will include paintings, sculpture, photography, video, text, and printed matter,” notes the co-curators. “The artists’ works are social and political through the form of collage, which has always been thought of as ‘a moment of crisis in consciousness’.”

“Our proposal for this exhibition is to present a group of artists who explore ideologies of collage within their practice as a constructive mode through material, language, text, cultural and personal concepts,” states Thomas and Chevremont. “The exhibition is entitled The Aesthetics of Matter, in relation to collage as a construct or mode in various disciplines, referencing a broad definition of matter — from the physical substance, that which occupies space and possesses mass, to the written material, substance or content of a text. A randomness, perhaps risk, notions of the sub- lime, elements of constructive forms and materiality.”

Photo credit: Guillermo Cano, Mickalene Thomas (left) and Racquel Chevremont (right)

Tomashi Jackson

presented by Tilton Gallery (New York)


Tomashi Jackson's work explores the perception of color and its influence on the value of life in public space.

The work activates vicinity specific archival materials that document histories of segregation, attempted desegregation, and contemporary resegregation. Using painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, fiber work, and video collage Jackson's work identifies the collapse of past and present in narratives of public concern. What emerges is a visual and material language anchored in structures of form, color, opacity, and light. Basically, what ever the work is supposed to be.

For Aesthetics of Matter Tomashi's work reflects her ongoing work investigating historic and contemporary narratives of color interaction and separation, chromatic and societal. The methodology of the current work focuses on laws and policies that govern the social infrastructural sites of education and transportation (public and private) in the United States for research and visualization.  Paintings, prints, photographs, and video works flirt with censorial identification as sculpture and drawing through the use of collage across objects and spaces. All of the work operates through a principle of collage collapsing the past and present in formal compositions of relationships that are linear, color, light sensitive, and material in nature.

Tomashi Jackson, Interstate Love Song (Friends of Clayton County Transit) (Pitts Road Station Opposition), 2018, mixed media, 42 x 112 x 58 inches (106.7 x 284.5 x 147.3 cm)

Troy Michie

presented by Company Gallery (New York)


Pulling from Walter Benjamin's conceptualization of the “materialist historian”, I draw signs from the past and place them in confrontation with the present. The nature of my work is in dialogue with the political discourse of collage as a medium, with the intent to subvert a dominant narrative. It is an attempt to quote history by changing the context. Using both personal and collected photographic images and found objects as material.

My process fluctuates between modes of assemblage, collage, and décollage. A constant in my work is the visual topography of the human form. The body is often fragmented in an attempt to rethink disembodiment as a system of transcendence from materiality. The physicality of racialized bodies often involve a slippage between the body as object and the body as subject. The ability to cut, strip, reconfigure, and abstract its form, disrupts the site where race and sexuality are presumed to reside. In my assemblage works the emphasis on found elements becomes a way of positioning the viewer with the tangibility of history. My compositions often involve personal objects, like hair and photographs which give the work a sense of authority by leaving behind a physical trace.

Most recently I have been working on a series that incorporates Roland Penrose’s camouflage theory, Pachuco history in El Paso, TX and a series of attacks in Los Angeles known as the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943. The zoot suit is a point of departure; within which notions of class, self-expression, and masculinity unfold. Thinking of the duality of camouflage, I am forming relationships between the implied threat of “otherness” to American nationalism and a form of camouflage known as disruptive patterning. 

Troy Michie, Piensa en Mi, 2017, Paper, photography, clothing, and acrylic on masonite panel, 60 x 48 x 2 in

Devin N. Morris

presented by Jenkins Johnson Projects (New York)


I am interested in abstracting American life and subverting traditional value systems through the exploration of racial and sexual identity in mixed media painting, photography, writing and video. My works prioritize displays of personal innocence and acts of kindness within surreal landscapes and elaborate draped environments that reimagine the social boundaries imposed on male interactions, platonic and otherwise.

I began taking photographs as a way to create the content I would later extract for my collage imagery. Over time I realized that I wasn’t owning my voice as a photographer and began to consider what an image would look like if I was to make a photograph and not just an image to later cut up. I realize I like to work very physically and began to build environments to approach the idea of creating a new environment or space. I wanted to give my subjects new relationships to the common materials I used when draping the environments.

The use of gestural kindnesses between real and imagined characters is inspired by my various experiences growing as a black boy in Baltimore, MD and my later experiences navigating the world as a black queer man. Memory subconsciously roots itself in the use of familiar household materials and fabrics, while symbolically arranged. Looking to buoy my new realities in a permanent real space, I posit my reimagined societies as a prehistory to futures that are impossible to imagine.

Devin N. Morris, Untitled Beige (Re ection), 2016, Digital c-print, 24 x 36 in

Christie Neptune

presented by Rubber Factory (New York)


Christie Neptune (b. 1986, Brooklyn, NY) is an interdisciplinary artist working across film, photography, mixed media and performance arts. Neptune investigates how constructs of race, gender, and class limit the personal experiences of historically marginalized and stigmatized individuals. Critically aware of both self and subjectivity, Neptune illuminates the personal and emotional aftermath of a society that disregards and delegitimatizes those that endure the brunt of historically upheld supremacies.

“To be seen through my own eyes,” is an idea that I regularly explore as an African American Female Artist. Through photography, film and performance, I wrestle with internalized life experiences to explore themes around the social constructs of identity and trace how race, class and gender factor into one’s perception of “self.” In “She Fell From Normalcy,” I use sound, installation, original writing and video to build a world stripped of limitations. As subject, I employ two females trapped in a sterile white environment in which they are controlled by an unseen presence; It is only after a cataclysmic break in the system that the females are granted self recognition.

Inspired by revolutionary writers and contemporaries of their time, James Baldwin and Frantz Fanon, “Unpacking Sameness,” work in progress, is a counter-narrative which aims to critique the social ills of white supremacy, colorblind ideologies, and fragility. In “Unpacking Sameness” I use reflective surfaces, curtains and assembled industrial pieces to explore the psycho-social divisions of double consciousness, institutionalized racial difference and spatial thinking, in respect to the framing and positioning of my body and objects in space. Within this piece, I invite my viewers to catechize what is "unseen" behind The Great American Curtain; the “most disagreeable mirror” in Baldwin’s “The White Man’s Guilt.”

“Unpacking Samness” is currently in production and will be presented in “The Aesthetics of Matter,” an exhibition curated by Racquel Chevremont and Mickalene Thomas. 

Christie Neptune, Mirrors and Showpieces (from the series Unpacking Sameness), 2017, Photography and digital chromogenic print, 24 x 36 in

Kameelah Janan Rasheed

presented by Project For Empty Space (Newark)


I explore black experimental poetics, vernaculars, and non-linearity as tools to narrate lived black experience. I work primarily with a Xerox machine to perform scores on the bed of the copier machine to create pieces that are then digitized and printed on vinyl, photo paper, and other substrates. These digitized xeroxes, original xeroxes, and text fragments are improvisationally mapped into architecturally scaled collages.

My installations are a collaboration with the viewer who is invited to create meaning at they consider unfinished words or follow a meandering sentence as it wraps around the corner of a wall. I work sculpturally through my sprawling installations where language is taken off the page and interacts with the architecture of the space as words are folded into the corners of walls, pinned directly onto the wall, burrowed into the plaster, or positioned delicately to erupt from gaps in the floor. Here, I am interested in the generative possibilities of the break/the cut/the fold. Xerox images and texts are warped or stretched. In these installations, text fragments mined from my personal archive of self-written poems, photographed language, found photographs, and cutouts from a range of printed matter are placed far above and far below the eye level. In a largely associative environment such as these sprawling installations, the juxtaposition, or collision of text and image create an “open text” that does not dictate finite meaning, but rather in its oscillation between opaqueness and transparency, invites the audience to construct meaning from the “stutters” or the messy and unmanageable bits of history that refuse convenient narrative arcs or neat resolutions.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Speech/Acts, 2017, Curated by Meg Onli at Institute for Contemporary Art – Philadelphia. Image courtesy of the artist.

David Shrobe

presented by Studio 301 NYC (Brooklyn)


David Shrobe is interested in a multilayered exchange of materiality, symbolism, and technique, where abstraction and figuration coexist and new portrayals emerge, presenting alternative representations that project empowerment and defiance towards prescribed systems of authority. His unique visual language combines painting, drawing, and collage, with found and reclaimed objects that often allude to domestic spaces.

I create spaces within which new forms and mixes become indigenized out of various materials reclaimed from environments I encounter. My work is interested in excavating history, and the flipping of tradition to create a multi-layered exchange that rejects the linearity of conventional ideas of temporality. Collapsing divisions between past, present, and future gives birth to fragmented portraits, counter narratives, and hybridized figures, who are not oriented to a specific time or place, but rather floating in a space of disquieting co-existence. The work responds to the tradition of classical portraiture challenging its singular historical narrative by presenting alternative representations through cutting up, re-positioning and then piecing together meaning from the histories that are inherent in the images and objects I recover.

What results is a cross pollination of drawing, painting, collage, and discarded domestic items, including flooring, furniture, mirror frames, molding, and doorknobs, to name a few. I am interested in how through my manipulation the material becomes in service to something new, and shifts from one identity to another. Using objects reclaimed from various sites, my neighborhood being one, is a way to map a personal journey, and respond to the specific evolving social landscape; creating a kind of field guide by which to navigate the communities in which I live and travel.

David Shrobe, The Meeting, 2017, Oil, acrylic, ink, graphite, fabric, wood, and vinyl, 74 x 46 x 2 in

Didier William

presented by Anna Zorina Gallery (New York)


Didier William is originally from Port-au-prince Haiti. He received his BFA in painting from The Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University School of Art. His work has been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of Art, The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach CA, The Fraenkel Gallery, Frederick and Freiser Gallery, and Gallery Schuster in Berlin. His work has been reviewed by HyperAllergic, Two Coats of Paint, The New York Times, and Art Critical. He was an artist in residence at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in Brooklyn, NY and has taught at Yale School of Art, Vassar College, Columbia University, and SUNY Purchase. He is currently Associate Professor of Art and the Chair of the MFA Program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. His current paintings revisit the particular historical moment of the Haitian Revolution and the potential mythologies and narratives that engender black liberation.

My current body of work revisits the historical moment of the Haitian Revolution and the potential mythologies and narratives that engender black liberation. I yield image and form to the spaces occupied by diaspora communities, both rational and fictive.

Materially I finds little value in demarcating between printmaking, painting, collage and drawing as they combine, collide and accumulate to build the surfaces of my paintings. I draw on historical content, Haitian vodou symbolism, and personal narrative to inform not only my research but also my material choices. In this way Collage becomes a flattened yet persistent physical harbinger for an omnipresent body. The acts of figurative distortion, repetition/patterning, and ornamentation, synchronize to form a permeable membrane between the body and it’s failed containers. I’m just as interested in the persistent failure of these containers as I am in the autonomy of the body itself. My surfaces - formed through cuts, stains, and paper - build a residue of historical narratives. They become sites of convergence as well as collision, marking both the fragility and the persistence of black humanity. Entitled “sis mawon” (Six Maroons) these Paintings imagine 6 fictional characters based on the maroon communities of Saint-Domingue (later to become Haiti,) formed when African slaves immediately fled to upon arrival to the island.  

Didier William, Kochon sa a lou, 2017, Wood carving, ink, and collage on panel, 48 x 60 in

Kennedy Yanko

presented by Jenkins Johnson Projects (New York)


Moving her body to shape paintings on rubber “canvases,” Kennedy Yanko pushes the boundaries of her pieces, or “skins,” to alter the paint’s natural dispersal. This physical interaction with rubber heightened her desire to meaningfully come into contact with other material, and has most recently prompted her investigation into metal-based work.

Yanko is a sculptor whose practice is built upon paradox. She understands that one’s perceptions are often in conflict with each other; she uses masculine and feminine systems to create her work investigating the human relationship to industrial materials as objects originally from nature. Working with such heavy, sharp, threatening material requires endurance, care and precision--which differs from the trance-like experience of working with malleable skins. By juxtaposing her paint skin with natural elements like marble, metal and wood, Yanko challenges our associations of the material presented. She points to the integral role of dichotomy in understanding oneself.

Kennedy Yanko uses the working theme of collage in her space by layering elements cut from nature's fabric: metal, marble, and glass. Her paint skins join these elements in conversation, simultaneously differentiating them within this composite environment. When walking through Yanko's installation, one will feel both cohesion and fragmentation, contributing to the aesthetic of collage.

Kennedy Yanko, Charcoal and Paper, 2017, Metal, paper, 48 x 36 x 24 in