BRIClab 2022/2023 Contemporary Art artists: Banyi Huang | Ezra Benus | Jenny Polak | Madjeen Isaac | Naima Green
Banyi Huang (they/them)
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Born in Beijing, China; based in New York, NY
Banyi Huang is a writer and artist who focuses on breaking boundaries of identity and belonging through digital art and technology. They push the limits of technology as related to the body, gender, and globality, through video art, 3D printed sculptures, and animation. Growing up in Fujian, Huang locates their belonging in histories, mythologies, of the province within the context and manifestations of queerness. Their work during the residency brings together digital domains and religious figures, placing themself within a virtual space to embody the Chinese sea deity Mazu and Hindu god Shiva as Nataraja. Beyond their artistic practice, Huang also frequently writes and does curatorial work, which informs and magnifies their upheaval of traditional hierarchies in art spaces as they build interactive installations and a holistic use of the gallery space that deconstructs the dividing line between art and viewer.
Huang has exhibited in shows at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, Special Special, P.A.D Gallery, and Artists Space, all NY. They were awarded The Arthur B. Graves Class of 1858 Essay Prize in Art from Williams College. Huang holds a BA in Art History and Art Studio from Williams College and an MA in Art History and Curating from Columbia University.
Apparitions, 2021. Installation, PLA plastic, resin, lamp, acrylic paint, fake lashes, wooden box, time switch, 64 x 11 ½ x 12 in.
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It’s Cold in the Lunar Palace But Warm in Your Embrace, 2021. Installation, PLA plastic, resin, rocks, dimensions variable.
Ezra Benus (he/they)
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Photo credit: Yo-Yo Lin
Born and based in Brooklyn, NY
Ezra Benus builds a conceptual vision of the body, illness, and care with abstract paintings. Through the lens of his own chronically ill, queer, and Jewish identities, Benus questions how the concept of the self collides with social surroundings and simultaneously investigates relationships of care and grief in collaboration with Noah Benus in Brothers Sick. The brothers create posters and prints that include images from their personal medical records and documentation of their daily life to investigate how their identities oversect, such as through the relations among eugenics, disability, and Jewishness. In his personal practice, Benus’ work visualizes the hidden aspects and rituals of the mundanity and normality of illness experiences set against the social conditions of the inescapable loop of fraught reliance with the medical-industrial complex, using color palettes derived from colors of medication and prescription bottles as inspiration for both color and form. Benus captures how daily routine, mobility, and rest structure time and space for disabled and sick individuals and communit
Benus was a Lutte Collective featured artist and has exhibited in group shows and programs at the Brooklyn Museum, the Dedalus Foundation, The Shed, Laurie M. Tisch Gallery at the JCC Manhattan, Gibney 280 Broadway, Flux Factory, Pratt Institute, and The 8th Floor, all NY; the SPARK Disability Arts Festival, Studio C Gallery, Calgary, Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto, and Art Gallery Windsor, all Canada; the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany, and Museion, Bolzano, Italy. They have held residencies through SHIFT at the EFA Project Space and the Winter Workspace at Wave Hill. They were also an Access and Adult Learning Fellow at the Brooklyn Museum and Erich Fromm Fellow at the Paideia Institute for Jewish Studies. Benus earned a BA in Studio Art and Jewish Studies from Hunter College, and manages the Disability Futures Fellowship.
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SUN / MOON, שמש / לבנה 2020. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 in.
Stretch/Tourniquet, 2021. Glass panel, used tourniquet from infusions, plexiglass, orange triangle hazard construction signs found on street, acrylic paint, 6 x 6 ft.
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Pareidolia (Vaccinate Now) by Ezra and Noah Benus as "Brothers Sick," 2021. Dye sublimation print on aluminum, 24 x 16 in.
Jenny Polak (she/her)
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Born in London, England, UK; based in Brooklyn, NY
After witnessing and spurning the nature of immigration laws in England, Jenny Polak was galvanized to combat policy-based social injustices. Trained as an architect, she realizes her activism through site-specific artworks—architectural installations, drawings, and practical objects—for the physical and temporal reach they can have, transcending that of synchronous, live events. Polak’s art-based activism directly addresses American immigration injustice, especially prejudice against undocumented immigrants, and the discriminatory prison system. Harnessing the power of a group of voices to energize policy change, she collaborates with local communities to build site-specific works in urban spaces.
Polak has exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, BRIC, and Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX; the Newark Museum; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; the First Floor Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe; Les Kurbas Centre, Kyiv, Ukraine; and Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Holland Tania Bruguera's Museum of Arte Útil Archive. She has been a resident at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Grand Canyon National Parks, and the Camargo/Art Matters/Jerome Foundation. The artist has received a Creatives Rebuild New York award and fellowships at New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, BRIC, and the Socrates Sculpture Park. Her work is in the permanent collections of the MoMA Library; the Griffiss International Sculpture Garden, Rome NY; The International Contemporary Art Foundation, Louisville, KY; and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Culver City, CA. Polak holds two BA degrees, in Architecture from Cambridge University and in Fine Art and Critical Studies from St. Martins School of Art, and an MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts.
Offshore, 2020-21. Wood, chain-link, barbed wire, poetry on canvas, 20 x 12 ⅗ x 32 ⅗ ft. + binocular viewer.
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Pennants & Poets, Dumbo iteration, 2021. 50 pennants, poems printed on cotton, spoken word, 6 x 6 x 8 ft.
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3 Days, 42 miles, Chicago to Gary Walk with the Mobile Speakers’ Podium for Citizens & Noncitizens, 2018. Collaborators walking, steel, siding, wheels, speakers Podium 8 x 2 x 5 ft.
Madjeen Isaac (she/her)
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Born and based in Brooklyn, NY
Madjeen Isaac is a first-generation Haitian American who paints magical-realist visions of boundless Black and immigrant existences. She is heavily influenced by her upbringing in Brooklyn, surrounded by Haitian culture, especially informed by her observation that both are strongly family- and community-centered. A reality not yet realized, the utopic world pictured in her paintings blends those social environments and envisions Black and Brown individuals taking space with enough room to move through the world unrestricted and to experience the buoyancy of daily life. Isaac thinks of art as holding the power to guide, metamorphose, and upheave society. By imagining and suggesting ideal worlds, she inspires viewers to internalize and claim their right to a better reality.
Isaac had a solo show at Sean Horton (Presents). She has exhibited at the New York Art Center, the Fashion Institute of Technology Art and Design Gallery, the New York Art Center, the Akwaaba Mansion, Lakou Cafe, and SoHo House, all NY. Isaac has had residencies at the Laundromat Project, MYÜZ, and Haiti Cultural Exchange Lakou NOU Artist Residency Program. Her awards include a Women of Distinction Award from NY Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and a New York City Artist Corps Grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She received a BFA degree in Fine Art from the Fashion Institute of Technology and an MA in Art + Edu & Community Practice from New York University, as well as a Museum Education Practicum from the Studio Museum in Harlem.
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Peachy, Good and Plenty, 2022. Oil paint, 40 x 32 x 2 in.
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Abundant Surprises From the Sky, 2021. Oil on canvas, 54 x 42 x 1 ½ in.
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Meet Us at Flatbush and Beverly, 2021. Oil paint, 47 x 40 x 2 in.
Naima Green (she/her)
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Photo credit: Elliott Jerome Brown, Jr.
Born Philadelphia, PA; based in Brooklyn, NY
Naima Green photographs Black and Queer individuals to document their vibrant relationships to place and celebrate the joy of existence even in fraught environments. Collaborating and engaging with individuals to capture their portraits, Green accesses and spotlights the nature of intimacy, relating their lives on a personal level. Her work during the residency will address Black and Queer communities’ current and historical presence in beaches. Green considers water as fluid and regenerative and presents a window into the relationship between pleasure and the complex Black experience of the ocean: beauty, leisure, deracination and violence. Oral and written histories, and the archival material essential to uncovering these stories, are critical to her process. By synthesizing this archival research with outreach and conversation with those currently existing in these communities, she frames documentation as a continuum and her still images as kinetic, living histories.
Green has had solo shows at the International Center of Photography-Bard, Baxter Street CCNY, and Fotografiska, all NY, and the Institute of Contemporary Art at VCU, Richmond, VA. She has exhibited in group shows at Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA; BRIC, Brooklyn; The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, both NY; the Houston Center for Photography; and Gallery Factory, Minneapolis, MN. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Bronx Museum, MASS MoCA, the International Center of Photography, and Pocoapoco. Her work is in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art Library, the International Center of Photography Library, the Leslie-Lohman Museum, and the Hirsch Library at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Green holds a BA in Urban Studies and Sociology from Barnard College, Columbia University, an MFA in Advanced Photographic Studies from the International Center of Photography-Bard, and an MA in Art and Art Education from the Teachers College, Columbia University.
Saltwater Gold, 2021. Archival inkjet print, 40 x 40 in.
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Untitled (Riis II), 2017. Archival inkjet print, 35 x 35 in.
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Ms. Colombia Shrine, 2020. Archival inkjet print, 20 x 20 in.