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Drop #5November 2022Brooklyn

Gen Z by Gen Z

Scouted entirely from GBA’s open call program – an open-to-all initiative that prioritizes creatives who are often overlooked – the exhibited artists in Gen Z by Gen Z share a unique perspective across a common narrative thread of identity exploration.

The results resemble the frenetic nature often found across social media channels and even in cultural keystones such as the Marvel franchise: eclecticism, colors, layers, and complexity. Nuanced explorations of cultural heritage and the young psyche serve as unifying themes, speaking to the unabashedly ephemeral and experimental nature of Gen Z youth. Bright colors and dynamic compositions demand attention, shouting...

Scouted entirely from GBA’s open call program – an open-to-all initiative that prioritizes creatives who are often overlooked – the exhibited artists in Gen Z by Gen Z share a unique perspective across a common narrative thread of identity exploration.

The results resemble the frenetic nature often found across social media channels and even in cultural keystones such as the Marvel franchise: eclecticism, colors, layers, and complexity. Nuanced explorations of cultural heritage and the young psyche serve as unifying themes, speaking to the unabashedly ephemeral and experimental nature of Gen Z youth. Bright colors and dynamic compositions demand attention, shouting in a unified neon language. 

Gen Z by Gen Z artists are versatile, working in cyanotype, digital and film photography, linoleum printmaking, digital and analog painting, drawing, ceramics, and paper cutting. The involved artists thrive on experimentation while exploring their rich cultural identities and heritage.

In presenting Gen Z by Gen Z, GBA definitively underscores its mission to serve not only as a pioneering creative marketplace but also as a thriving community. While leaning on Gen Z individuals to help select artists for the exhibition, GBA democratized the curation process while maintaining its ability to showcase complex, mature work created by the next generation of talent. 

As GBA sifted through over two hundred applications, “the original intent was simply to find the coolest work,” says Vinny Campagna, GBA’s 22-year-old Community Manager and lead organizer of the Gen Z drop. “The majority of artists who applied are Gen Z, BIPOC, and identified as LGBTQIA+, and it quickly became clear that it was, in fact, the artists who were telling us how to define the drop. Time and time again, we were struck by practices that quietly interpreted or loudly confronted cultural identity in emotionally layered and psychologically complex ways.”

Abigail Bernstein

Boston, MA

A self-taught wheel thrower, Abi began her ceramic practice with traditional pottery pieces. It wasn’t until she explored themes of personification that her artwork took on more figurative expression, with gnarled noses and bulging eyes popping out of pitchers and planters. From tangled sculptures of interlocking limbs to her blind-box collectible series The Frieks, Abi plays with the intersection between art and functionality, blurring the line between conventional ceramics and zany figures.

Cienna Ignacio-Smith

Queens, NY

Originally from Curacao in the Southern Caribbean, much of Cienna’s practice is influenced by her upbringing and ancestry. Cienna is motivated by drawing people that look like her and exploring her Black and Latina heritage. Familial legacy is prevalent in work depicting three women (maybe mother and daughters, sisters or cousins). Cienna works digitally and physically, first underpainting with a base of watercolor or gouache, then scanning and finishing her paintings in Procreate. Compositions glow with dramatic lighting, accentuating forms and figures that define different yet equally weighted ideas of artistry.

Cristina Loukopoulos

Queens, NY

Cristina started painting intensely in her bedroom during the pandemic. Beginning her series in oil and transitioning to acrylic, Cristina’s paintings contain symbolism influenced by motifs of plants and fruit in traditional Colombian art. Drawing further inspiration from artist relatives and Colombian muralists, Cristina creates bold, swirling compositions that reflect the cacophony of Gen Z’s digital lives. Organic shapes overlap and unfurl to construct personal worlds, building an intimate landscape comprised of aspects of Cristina’s identity she discovered during COVID isolation.

Daniel Hughes

Columbus, GA

Mesmerized by Yu-Gi-Oh monster drawings as a kid, Daniel developed an art practice defined by a strong yet subtle color palette. Growing up in the South, Daniel repressed his gender identity and sexuality due to prejudices in the community. He used his paintings as methods of self-representation, environments where he could be as bold and exuberant with colors and bodies as he pleased. Daniel’s works often address themes of identity, expression, and religion and grapple with emotional moments deeply personal to the artist.

Deshaun Walker

Atlanta, GA

Born and raised in Atlanta, Deshaun began to pursue his art practice in high school. His abstract paintings channel intense emotions, capturing moments of anger, love, and loss. Rage is translated into attacks on the canvas with acrylics, oil pastels, airbrushes, and Mod Podge. Feelings of respite are captured with calming tonality and precise materials like colored pencils, while intimate moments of family dissonance are reflected in darker tones and complex sculptural layering. Colors twist and turn into a painterly psyche, exploring deep recesses of Deshaun’s mind.

Hannah Ghafary

Atlanta, GA

Hannah’s father immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee after the Iranian Revolution. Growing up in the South as a first-generation American, Hannah constantly witnessed discrimination against her father and his culture. At school and throughout her community, she was often made to feel ashamed of her Middle Eastern heritage due to politically charged rhetoric and stereotypes. Her parents dissuaded her from pursuing art, encouraging Hannah to build a more stable career. However, Hannah’s passion kept calling, and she changed her major from business to art. She uses traditional methods of realism to satire images of the female body in print and creates surreal compositions encapsulating complex messages of dreams, inclusion, and femininity.

Julian Adon Alexander

Queens, NY

Julian’s drawings are born from his urge to create work that associates emotional states with the cityscapes looming around him. He uses materials and makes small works that are easy to manage in his bedroom, which doubles as his studio space. Masterful draftsmanship in graphite is employed to its fullest extent resulting in rich, dynamic, letter-sized compositions. Jackets and baggy clothing meld figures into dark yet detailed backgrounds while intensive, scratchy linework mimics qualities of handwritten text, affording Julian’s drawings a journalistic aura.

Kayla Bernard

Brooklyn, NY

Kayla treats her photo shoots as opportunities for respite from her busy academic schedule. She prefers to connect with her models as individuals rather than photograph them as subjects and encourages their input when naming photographs or composing shots. Kayla enjoys relinquishing complete control over shoots, a preference that led her to work in cyanotype due to the fickle nature of the medium. Her experiments are never exact, as the light exposure and water oxidation required for the process are uncontrolled. Kayla uses cyanotype’s uncertainty to her advantage, matching the medium with her casual photography style, capturing herself and her peers in intimate moments of leisure.

Kyle Cobian

Brooklyn, NY

Kyle approaches photography as a collaborative practice, allowing his models partial agency over positioning and lighting when conducting his photoshoots. He is inspired by various media, such as anime, vintage video game advertisements, and XY Magazine. He deliberately creates photographs interpretable as fashion shoots, brand adverts, and fantasy scenes. Subjects become powerful and refined, poised in a magical reality. Kyle shoots his subjects extremely underexposed and then edits the brightness post-production, creating muted colors and tones that he further accentuates. This unique method of digital photography, coupled with dynamic, colored spotlighting, contributes to an ethereal beauty throughout his work.

Ming Chen

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles artist Ming addresses temporality in her latest painting, blurring the passage of time into a relative concept. Various eras are represented by childhood memories of family homes and animals, blending different periods into a single composition. Mundane objects such as teapots become ritualistic symbols alluding to ways to slow the day’s progression. Ming’s oil paintings with muted yet advanced coloring collapse multiple epochs into one image.

Monique Boss

Roselle, NJ

Monique comes from a family of creatives; her mother is a poet, and her father and sister are visual artists. Much of Moe’s work explores the psyche of an artist and multiple selves.

Nathan Addley

Atlanta, GA

As a boy, Nathan drew a picture of a Black child tethered by an American flag. The art teacher at school was moved to tears, and this experience catalyzed Nathan’s journey into the arts. He started as an animator and transitioned to painting as he appreciated a more “visually immersive” medium. His works often depict Black figures in arid, outdoor environments, with stunning colors and masterful realism. Nathan noticed the similarities between Black portraiture in art and popular media and states that his work portrays the many positive facets of Black life, defying a single narrative.

PG PICASSO (Ato-Obong Akpama)

Queens, NY

PG graduated college with a degree in biology, and it wasn’t until the pandemic confined them indoors that they realized their passion for art. Restricted to their home, PG converted the living room into a studio and began a self-taught practice, painting eccentric figures on wood panels. Early 2000s cartoons such as Fish Hooks and clothing outlets such as Payless ShoeSource inspire their characters’ exaggerated features and clothing. Fluorescent hues combine and clash to create vivid palettes, mimicking old-school comic books for a new generation.

Sachi Dely

Greensboro, NC

Born in the Dak Mil Province of Southern Vietnam, Sachi faced displacement as a Bunong refugee. After her trauma, art became Sachi’s coping mechanism as a child. It was only later in life that Sachi learned of her Indigenous Bunong heritage and honed her painting skills to render her stories on canvas. Sachi employs her paintings to manifest memories and experiences of other Bunong refugees she has met. She integrates native fabric patterns by mixing paint and cloth to create powerful works representing themes of displacement and loss.

Stephanie Ko

Los Angeles, CA

Growing up as a Korean-American, Stephanie’s experience with racial prejudice has heavily influenced the themes she explores through her artwork. This painting serves as a method of releasing trauma and the characters are created as an embodiment of emotions related to Asian fetishization, mental health, and subjective experiences. Currently, Stephanie’s practice veers toward transforming trauma into personal empowerment.

Vaidehi Reddy

Sante Fe, NM

Vai grew up in Southern India where she encountered many illiterate people, and she began telling stories through visual arts to communicate universally. After immigrating to America, Vaidehi immediately noticed the lack of her culture’s presence in the art world and sought to address this dearth of representation. Accessibility continues to be a guiding factor of Vaidehi’s practice, informing her use of everyday materials such as paper, box cutters, and graphite to construct her artworks.

Van Bixler

Columbus, GA

Abundant with commentary on God and religious iconography, Van’s small-scale oil paintings reflect how their unorthodox experiences with Christianity affected their individuality. Referencing medieval miniatures, manuscript paintings, and Southeast Indian art, Van expertly weaves narratives of their personal life and cultural heritage into strange, surreal paintings that abandon classic figuration and perspective. Kinships between humans, animals, and botany are dissected and reconfigured, rendering parenthood interspecies, genderless, and fluid. Religious norms are subverted and disoriented, alluding to Van’s upbringing in a cult in Mexico.

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