In a practice that combines painting, sculpture, and installation Caitlin Cherry addresses history, identity, and present-day politics in pursuit of cultural reclamation and the dismantling of structural oppression. To create her obliquely narrative compositions and disorienting characters, Cherry draws upon the traditions of art history, integrating contemporary cultural theories on race, gender, economics, and the impact of technologies. Mixing conventional painting genres such as portraiture, landscape, and still life with prop-like mechanical supports, her oeuvre re-examines notions of the self and the body, often featuring subjective entities that have been co-created and morphed by the individual, society, and technology.
Cherry received her MFA from Columbia University in 2012 and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Providence College Galleries, Providence, RI (2018); Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA (2018); University Museum of Contemporary Art at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA (2017); and at The Brooklyn Museum as part of Raw/Cooked curated by Eugenie Tsai (2013). Recent group exhibitions include: A Wild Ass Beyond: ApocalypseRN (2018) at Performance Space, New York; Punch (2018) curated by Nina Chanel Abney at Jeffrey Deitch; Touchstone (2018) at American Medium, New York; The Sun is Gone but We Have the Light (2018) at Gavin Brown Enterprise, Hancock, NY; Object[ed]: Shaping Sculpture in Contemporary Art (2016) at UMOCA, Salt Lake City, UT; Banksy’s Dismaland Bemusement Park (2015) in Somerset, UK; This is What Sculpture Looks Like (2014) at Postmasters Gallery, New York; and Fore (2012) at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Cherry is a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Fellowship Residency (2016) and Leonore Annenberg Fellowship (2015), among other awards and honors.
Caitlin Cherry’s growing invaluability to the art world should come as no surprise; her commitment to black female subjectivity places the oft-imitated but systematically dismissed aesthetics of hip-hop hustle front and center, posing a real threat to the sleepy status quo we've come to expect from genre figuration. Smart, subversive, and incontrovertibly sexy, Cherry's pieces hum with radioactive irreverence, transforming viewers into beholders with the flick of a brush. Her blockbuster turns at the Brooklyn Museum, Performance Space in New York, and Luis De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles have secured her spot as a needed, disruptive force in contemporary art dialogue. Currently a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Cherry is not only a steward of pictorial anarchy, but also a deeply funny Instagrammer, dedicated hairless cat mom, and white wine connoisseur.
First published in 1985, the essay by Donna Haraway known as The Cyborg Manifesto made waves by criticizing the gender essentialism and idenity politics of feminism and encouraging people to unite with others baded on affinity. It proposes the symbol of the cyborg as rejection of boundaries "unfaithful to their orgins" and that this symbol can help to free peple from racist, male-dominated capitalism. The essay also purports that the "boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion."
The first thing one notices upon entering Caitlin Cherry‘s show at Luis De Jesus is her sensational palette so improbable that it seems to have dropped from outer space. Clashing vibrant colors contrast, oscillate and dazzle as though her paintings were a laser light show. As the shock of hue subsides, you find yourself drawn into a bizarre alternate world ruled by curvaceous mystic black women who exude eccentric glamour while confronting discriminatory stereotypes.
And so we come to the Wildass Beyond of the exhibition itself, a dystopian beyond in the “no where” here and now. You forget that you’re in a city, least of all New York City, when you enter into the idyllic and rustic space, your feet literally in the dirt, so you feel at once reminded of and ensconced in Earth, something that is so easy to forget in the epicenter of global capital and its technologies of cable, wire, concrete and steel. Yet this is the imagined earth that remains after the end of the world.
I first came across Caitlin Cherry’s work through her excellent Instagram account, where she jokes about her art (one of her paintings mocks her for ripping off George Condo), posts pictures of her sphynx cat, and displays new work (recently, a tote bag emblazoned with a W-9 form). Her installation at New York’s Performance Space, A Wild Ass Beyond: ApocalypseRN, brings her into collaboration with Nora N. Khan, American Artist, and Sondra Perry.
News media, despite respective biases, seem to agree in the description of contemporary politics as “complicated” and “divided.” While accurate, this semantic admission fails to demonstrate the accountability of the status quo. Soul Recordings, a group exhibition currently on view at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, examines ideas around representation and meaning amid the persisting trauma of colonial histories.
The opening movement of “Soul Recordings” is a polka-dot revelry, a bedazzled wake-up call, a cymbal-clap altarpiece, a plastic-bead trumpet blast, and a monster of a skull-ringed, glitter-bombed orchestral chord breaking in fuchsia major. This is Ebony G. Patterson’s heartbreaking and eminently Instagrammable mixed media installation work, and the poignant grandeur of its regal and folkloric memento mori is alert and ineffable.
Soul Recordings, at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. A group exhibition featuring works by artists such as Lisa C. Soto, Deborah Roberts, Caitlin Cherry and Lex Brown shines a spotlight on our state of political unease. This includes work that examines neocolonial architecture, painting that toys with the nature of stereotype and textile work that takes on issues of gender. Accompanying the exhibition will be an essay written by independent curator Jill Moniz, who organized the very compelling show of sculpture by African American female artists at the Landing last year.