Amazing on-the-rise New York artists you need to know

These stellar young artists are feeding off NYC’s energy to make their mark (astronomical rents be damned)

Kia Labeija
Photograph: Rozette Rago

The art world might be changing drastically, but the young New York artist is alive and well. At least that’s the easy conclusion to take from viewing the works of these killer NYC artists, who are creating enveloping-pushing paintings, multimedia projects, films, collages, photographs and more. Get to know them below and boost your artsy prowess by brushing up on the NYC photographers, art galleries and art exhibits.

 

 

Photograph: James Emmerman

Borna Sammak

Follow @bboorrnnaa

Our cover-star artist remixes materials like beach towels and straight-from-the-boardwalk T-shirt decals to create his high-minded mash-ups. (You can check them out for yourself in his new show, “Hey, You’re Part of It,” starting Sunday 29 at LES gallery JTT.) Using otherwise banal things, Sammak captures the everyday absurdities and anxieties of contemporary life, spotlighting, say, the lost-in-translation poetics of deli awnings and mass-market American kitsch. He thanks his Ridgewood base for the endless visual stimulation: “You can’t help but look and be like, ‘How do I take a little piece of this that made me feel weird and translate it to give it to the next person,’ you know?”

↑ Back to top

 

Photograph: James Emmerman

John Edmonds

Follow @johncedmonds

Edmonds’ photographs are filled with monumental figures—mostly young men of color—in portraits with the intensity of religious paintings or more abstracted studies of the sheen of a do-rag, the curve of a hood or swirls of carefully styled hair. Shot with a 4x5 studio camera or medium-format Hasselblad, these images seem to exist outside of a specific time or place. But for Edmonds—who has a solo show starting May 4 on the Lower East Side through his gallery, ltd los angeles, and a monograph in the works from publisher Capricious—his aesthetic is deeply rooted in NYC’s distinctive highs and lows: “New York gives you adrenaline,” the Crown Heights resident says. “Making photographs here, I’m always looking for a sense of calm.”

↑ Back to top

 

Photograph: James Emmerman

Maggie Lee

Follow @suede87

“Everything starts in my bedroom,” says Lee in her diorama-like space packed with books, zines and her own multimedia creations. Lee’s diaristic, deeply personal works—some of which are on display at Bowery gallery Lomex through Sunday 29—take many forms, from the film Mommy, a moving tribute to her late mother, to Just Be, a self-portrait, taken with the Photo Booth app, that appeared this winter on a billboard above Chinatown’s Robert Blumenthal Gallery. Seeing her face rise six stories above Canal Street was a big deal, a bit of a “sci-fi” feeling, she says, “like FaceTiming with the city.”

↑ Back to top

 

Photograph: Rozette Rago

Kia Labeija

Follow @goodnight_kia

LaBeija, who earned her surname voguing in New York’s ballroom scene, was raised in Manhattan Plaza, the famed artist housing where Alicia Keys and Timotheé Chalamet also grew up. There, she started to take the self-portraits that comprised 24, a buzz-generating series of intimate images that address her experience growing up creative, queer, black, Filipina and HIV-positive. But for the bicoastal artist-activist, each descriptor is just one facet of her story. “If I could tell you anything that I am, I’m a native New Yorker—a Hell’s Kitchen baby,” she says. In her latest body of work, her skin is painted black and covered in starry glitter. “When people make you feel small,” she says of the piece, “you have to remind yourself that you are as big and deep as the night sky.”

↑ Back to top

 

Photograph: James Emmerman

Kenny Rivero

Follow @kenny172

Rivero’s paintings are made from pieces of New York City—literally. Old cigarette packs salvaged from the Gramercy building where he worked as a doorman, dominoes fresh from a match: Each of his three-dimensional canvases are a layered “memory palette,” as the Washington Heights native puts it. Rivero, whose work is on display in group shows at American Medium in Chelsea and MASS MoCA, shares his love of art as a museum educator at the Met and by mentoring teens at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise as part of Project Reset, an incarceration-alternative program. In both his art and politics (he’s toyed with a mayoral run), Rivero wants to rep New York voices that aren’t always heard—“narratives,” he explains, that “couldn’t exist anywhere else in the world.”

↑ Back to top

Comments

0 comments