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Emerson Dorsch Gallery at Untitled Art in Hyperallergic

December 7, 2023

Hyperallergic

Alexandra Martinez

While the world is burning outside the ephemeral veneer of this week, artists at NADA, Untitled, and Ink Miami explore intimacy, femininity, and Latinidad.

MIAMI — Past the undulating panels of Miami Beach Convention Center’s hallowed walls, where Art Basel attendees fight over works that have already been pre-sold, smaller art fairs like NADA, Untitled, and Ink Miami offer some of the most eye-catching and accessible ambiance and works during the city’s Art Week.

On the mainland, the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), best known for exhibiting emerging artists at an affordable price point, is back this year at the Ice Palace Studios. Swaying in a cozy hammocks in the show’s front yard while enjoying Miami’s unusually cool weather — yes, low 70s is cold for us — is a welcome reprieve from the mayhem of Art Week. Back on the beach, Ink Miami Art Fair is an independent and completely free (!) art fair dedicated to works on paper, housed in the Art Deco delight that is the Dorchester Hotel. And just a few streets south, perched on the sandy shoreline, is Untitled Art Fair, which boasts some of the most engaging activations of the week — including a wedding performance, complete with a rainbow cake.

Throughout the three fairs, textiles, the environment, and the lure of ultra-femme softness pervaded. While the world is burning outside the ephemeral veneer of this week, artists are cultivating safe spaces to ponder intimacy, healing, and resilience in the face of oppression. See some highlights from these fairs below.

Untitled

At this fair that’s right on the sand, French-Cameroonian artist Beya Gille Gacha immediately captures visitors’ attention at Keijsers Koning booth. Her life-like sculpture “Orant 5” (2019) features a young child seemingly trying to tidy their mess after breaking a pot with a bird of paradise plant, but after closer inspection, it becomes clear that the figure is breaking the concrete in order to let the soil and the plant prosper. The sculpture is covered in blue beads, evoking the Bamileke tradition from Cameroon, where beading artwork is a way to show value, just like covering it in gold or ivory. Here, Gacha demonstrates the value of each human being’s efforts to bring the earth back to life.

Other artists harnessed the power of textiles to tell stories of trauma and catharsis. At No Man’s Art Gallery, Afra Eisma’s “Taking Acorns Amongst the Stars” (2023) features a hand-tufted yarn display of a Grecian-like urn. Inside, Eisma has crafted a narrative of monsters and creatures where emotion serves as a source of strength and trauma acts as a catalyst for self-empowerment and change. And at Emerson Dorsch Gallery, Jen Clay’s mint-green and pastel textiles center her experience with hallucinations as a child and manifests the monsters she once witnessed. One work features a black snake meandering its way through iridescent turquoise trees; viewers are invited to interact with the snake and weave it through the trees themselves. Along the way, padded flaps reveal the words “I’m going to swallow you whole” in lime-green thread, subverting the biblical iconography of the malicious snake and making way for a mythical entanglement.

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