Racquel Chevremont Reigns at VOLTA NY With “The Aesthetics of Matter”
VOLTA NY flooded Armory Week with enthusiasts and buyers who have an eye for contemporary art. Featuring 85 galleries from 48 cities worldwide, this was the fair to cop breathtaking artwork by emerging artists and learn about their creative process as gallerists and artists were present.
Different from other art fairs, VOLTA NY featured a centered Curated Section, “The Aesthetics of Matter”, curated by collector Racquel Chevremont and her partner Mickalene Thomas—the renowned artist who enforces the movement “Black is Beautiful”, modeling her figures in classic feminine poses popularized by early modernist masters Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Edouard Manet, and Romare Bearden. The dynamic pair started Deux Femmes Noires to support women and people of color to be represented in the art world by creating a foundation that assists young artists. VOLTA NY became a messenger for their movement, and “The Aesthetics of Matter” featured eight minority and women artists who explore ideologies of collage: Kennedy Yanko, Christie Neptune, David Shrobe, Tomashi Jackson, Devin Morris, Troy Michie, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Didier William.
Couldn’t make it to Armory Week? We got you covered. Check the photos above to view VOLTA NY artists curated by Chevremont and Thomas, and read our full interview with Chevremont below.
How did you get interested in curating?
I entered the art world as a collector then quickly realized that there were very few collectors that looked like me so I started a salon in my townhouse in Brooklyn to educate and cultivate collectors in the hopes that I could change that. From that I moved into consulting and helping collectors build collections. Throughout the years of studio visits themes and concepts for shows began to take form in my mind. I guess that would be the point I became interested in curating.
Will you explain your ongoing project Deux Femme Noires and how this concept impacted “The Aesthetics of Matter”?
Well, “The Aesthetics of Matter” is the first manifestation of Deux Femmes Noires. It’s a platform that Mickalene and I have been discussing in one form or another for years. Our mission is twofold, first to help young artists navigate the art world second to use whatever platform and visibility we have to bring more visibility to artists of color, in particular women and queer artists of color. There’s so much talent in our community and too few opportunities and spaces available to show the work. We are hoping to use our connections to change that.
Can you explain the vision behind “The Aesthetics of Matter”? Did you and Mickalene Thomas have different roles?
Interestingly enough, given our different backgrounds, we actually didn’t—we both brought our artist lists and thematic concepts to the table and pretty much worked hand in hand in every deciding factor, from the carpet color to the floor plan, etc.
There are eight artists who use different mediums in your exhibition. What was the artist selection process like for “The Aesthetics of Matter”?
Given that we went with collage as a concept we wanted to show that it could be achieved in any medium. So we kept that in mind when narrowing down the list while also wanting to create a cohesive show.
I love how the artists featured were of color, that was pretty groundbreaking for an art fair. Will you share your ideologies behind pushing the norms of color in the art world as a curator?
The goal is to reach a point where a show with only artists of color in any space is no longer groundbreaking.
How did the collaboration between VOLTA, you and Mickalene Thomas arise?
Derrick Adams who curated the first curated section had suggested us to Amanda Coulson the director of the fair. When she approached us we were unavailable however we said that we would be interested in curating the following year.
I saw on your Instagram that you two are an item. What was it like to curate something so progressive in the art world with your partner?
I like the word “item”, however, we’re actually much more than that, we’re partners in pretty much every aspect of our lives. We also have similar sensibilities when it comes to art therefore it was actually much easier than either of us probably expected.
As a curator, what are your suggestions for emerging artists to be noticed in such a competitive industry?
If you choose to have your profession be that of “artist” then you need to take that as seriously as any other choice of profession. It’s not about being a celebrity or finding a way to get noticed. Put the work in in your studio, apply to residencies, and if the works good you’ll get noticed.
Are there any future collaborations between you and Mickalene we can look forward to?
Definitely but unfortunately none I can share just yet. You’ll be one of the first to know!
Images courtesy of VOLTA NY, Jenkin Johnson Projects, Artsy, & Kristie Williams
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