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Published September 11, 2023

5 Stand-Out Gallery Shows in New York City This September

By John Dennehy

John Dennehy co-founded Testudo with the mission to establish a more accessible and fair art world. John is a passionate collector of works by queer artists and antique ceramics.

As the art world returns to life after a summer break, art fairs and new museum and gallery exhibitions kick off a busy fall schedule. Here are five standout gallery shows to see in New York City this month.

Installation view of All My Life I've Been Afraid of Power by Andrea Ferrero, Swivel Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist and Swivel Gallery.

Andrea Ferrero: All My Life I've Been Afraid of Power, Swivel Gallery, August 30 - October 7

In Brooklyn, Swivel Gallery presents the first New York solo exhibition of Andrea Ferrero, a Peruvian artist who critically explores iconographies of power through her practice. At first glance, All My Life I’ve Been Afraid of Power seemingly recreates an archeological site of Roman ruins made in pink marble. On closer inspection, the sculptures are revealed to be made of edible white chocolate, melted and cast by the artist. The work confronts the historic and ongoing colonialist exploitation of Latin America caused by the cacao and sugar trade. The exhibition also recalls the opulent displays of food that began in fifteenth century European courts and continued into bourgeois society as a way to show off exotic foods from newly colonized lands. The work itself is participatory as Ferrero invites viewers to consume the chocolate throughout the show’s run. This performative destruction forces participants to contend with their complicity in exploitation through the pursuit of chocolatey pleasure.

Installation view of Young Elder featuring work by Nico Williams, James Fuentes. Image courtesy James Fuentes.

Young Elder, James Fuentes, September 8 - October 14

Young Elder showcases four emerging and mid-career artists who reference Indigenous materials and traditions as they are carried on in the current day. Drawing its name from a recent episode of the television series Reservation Dogs, the show is curated by Natalie Ball and Zach Feuer. Ball is an Indigenous artist whose practice includes installation, performance, mixed-media textile art, and sculpture, while Feuer is a co-founder of Forge Project, a Native-led initiative focused on decolonizing education in the United States and collecting the works of living Indigenous artists. Featuring work by Andrea Carlson, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Tyrrell Tapaha, and Nico Williams, Young Elder showcases these artists’ unique and multifaceted perspectives on Indigenous identity.

Nico Williams takes found objects from his home of Tiohtià:ke/Montréal and creates copies of them in glass beads, leading to sparkling soft sculptures. Tyrrell Tapaha uses Diné weaving techniques that have been passed down through their family for six generations to make traditional works that are often injected with humor or levity. Andrea Carlson debuts The Indifference of Fire, a twenty-four panel work that is rich in symbolism. Finally, Sonya Kelliher-Combs has a series called Pink Slips that resemble stretched animal skins - referencing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis. As the show's text poses, "what does it mean to express the wisdom of millenia through a contemporary practice?"

Ye Qin Zhu, A Stage Within A Stage, DIMIN. Images courtesy of the artist and DIMIN.

Ye Qin Zhu: A Stage Within a Stage, DIMIN, September 8 - October 14

Ye Qin Zhu's exhibition, A Stage Within a Stage, shares its name with the monumental work presented. Measuring 27 feet across, Zhu explores the impact of scale on perception by blending architecture, storytelling, and iconography. The artwork dominates the gallery and is seemingly suspended against a dark backdrop, with illuminated motifs resembling light beams. Zhu’s maximalist approach integrates diverse materials, from natural elements to mass-produced items, connected together by acrylic paint and relief sculpting. These materials act as multi-layered symbols of global interconnectedness: a disassembled cell phone can symbolize both the ways phones connect users across the world and the globalization that allows a single phone to contain elements mined from Asia, Africa, and South America. Indeed, Zhu's practice itself bridges Eastern and Western traditions, blending classical painting techniques and influences from Chinese nature paintings.

Anousha Payne, Tender Mooring, Deli Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist and Deli Gallery.

Anousha Payne: Tender Mooring, Deli Gallery, September 6 - October 7

In this exhibition, Tender Mooring, Anousha Payne’s paintings and sculptures reference her fictional story Gravity of Fur. In the story, a woman falls in love with a creature living in her backyard manifested from her loneliness, eventually becoming one. The works evoke the subject’s interior fantasy that is a unique, unshareable experience while simultaneously being part of the human experience: loneliness, self-discovery, and narrative-building. Payne utilizes her sculptures here to remind viewers of our physical self, while the paintings reinforce the psychological self. Working with different media, Payne plays at duality but brings these disparate elements together in an embrace.

Kathleen Ryan, My Shell, Karma. Image courtesy of the artist and Karma.

Kathleen Ryan: Shell, Karma, September 9 - October 28

Noted for her sculptures of bejeweled rotting fruit, Kathleen Ryan’s Shell continues to explore themes of excess and decay. In this exhibition, Ryan uses discarded automotive parts, which were similarly deployed in her show, Beachcomber, at Francois Ghebaly in LA earlier this year. Shell presents a large sculpture of a mollusk's shell isolated in the gallery. The scale and materiality feel unlike any shell viewers have encountered, lending the artwork an otherworldly quality that is further emphasized by its isolated presentation.

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