In a moment when the formerly radical act of “self-care” as it was imagined by the poet Audre Lorde has become an obvious marketing strategy deployed to capture the disposable income of yet one more generation of femme-identifying, self-objectifying subjects, this exhibition proposes that daily acts of care should be understood as quietly, yet decisively, disruptive of the status quo. Historically linked to the feminine, caring for others—either in personal or professional capacities—has garnered scant social capital. Yet increasingly, artists have turned to subtle and overt means of encoding alternatives to the sanctioned brutality of interpersonal interaction that has become ordinary in the early decades of the twenty-first century.
Following the thinking of writer Maggie Nelson, who reminds us that an “aesthetics of care” should not seek for the work of art to care for us, this exhibition gathers works that approach care as a complicated nexus of generosity and coercion. Caregiving, Nelson tells us further, has yet to be socialized beyond the maternal, even though its capacities have been valorized in other guises—when the very acts associated with conventional maternity are dissociated from gender but proposed as a form of freedom. In this exhibition, we seek to consider how slight gestures, open questions, repetitive acts, distant memories, and subtle refusals register alternate value systems. Co-curated by Janine Mileaf and H. Daly Arnett, the exhibition features works by Elliott Jerome Brown, Jr., Lenka Clayton, Sara Cwynar, Bronwyn Katz, Chancellor Maxwell, and Lily van der Stokker.
Upkeep overlaps in both time and topic with The Renaissance Society’s exhibition Nine Lives. Both group shows partake in the Feminist Art Coalition, a national initiative to generate cultural awareness of feminist thought, experience, and action.
Elliott Jerome Brown, Jr. (b. 1993, Baldwin, NY)
Elliott Jerome Brown, Jr. has had three solo exhibitions to date: Arms to Pray With (Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, 2019); Never in a Hurray (Staple Goods, New Orleans, LA, 2019); and a simple song (Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York, New York, 2019).
Notable group exhibitions took place at The MAC, Belfast, Ireland; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Leslie Lohman Museum, New York; Columbia University Leroy Neiman Gallery, New York; Platform Gallery, Baltimore; Galerie AMU, Prague; Forum Art Space, Purchase, NY; Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia; Polifórum Digital Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico; and upcoming at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
In 2019, he won the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. With Devin N. Morris in 2017, he curated Rock Paper Scissors and a Three-Armed Shovel, the 7th Annual Zine and Self- Published Photo Book Fair.
Brown lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Lenka Clayton (b. 1977, Cornwall, England)
Lenka Clayton’s notable exhibitions include The Grand Illusion (Lyon Biennial, Lyon, France, 2020); Fruit and Other Things (57th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 2019); Apollo’s Muse (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2019); The Distance I Can Be From My Son (Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, 2018); Object Temporarily Removed (The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, 2017); State of the Art (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, 2014); as well as solo showings at Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco (2016, 2019). With collaborator Jon Rubin, she produced a major commission for the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum in 2017, entitled A talking parrot, a high school drama class, a Punjabi TV show, the oldest song in the world, a museum artwork, and a congregation’s call to action circle through New York.
Clayton is the founder of An Artist Residency in Motherhood, a self-directed, open-source artist residency program that takes place inside the homes and lives of artists who are also parents. There are currently more than 1,000 artists-in-residence in 62 countries.
Clayton lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Sara Cwynar (b. 1985 Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Sara Cwynar has had seventeen solo exhibitions in international venues, including most recently Gilded Age (The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 2019); Image Model Muse (Milwaukee Art Museum, 2019); and Marilyn (The Approach, London, 2020). Her photographs and videos have been included in several group exhibitions, including You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred (Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, Russia, 2019); 99 Cents or Less (Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, 2017); Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Art (Dallas Museum of Art, 2014); Talk to Me (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2011).
She has received commissions from the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Public Art and Amenities Framework (Toronto), and her work is held in the permanent collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Guggenheim Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others.
She received a BDES in Graphic Design from York University in Toronto, Ontario (2010) and an MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (2016).
Cwynar lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Bronwyn Katz (b. 1993, Kimberley, South Africa)
Bronwyn Katz has held five solo exhibitions to date, including Salvaged Letteri (Peres Projects, Berlin, 2019); / // ! ǂ (blank projects, Cape Town, 2019); and A Silent Line, Lives Here (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2018).
She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including NIRIN (Biennale of Sydney, 2020); Là où les eaux se mêlent (Where the water mingles) (Biennale de Lyon, 2019); The Empathy Lab (Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, 2019); Material Insanity (Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech, 2019); Sculpture (Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, Port Louis, Mauritius, 2018); Tell Freedom (Kunsthal KAdE, Amersvoort, 2018); Le jour qui vient (Galerie des Galeries, Paris, 2017); and the 12th Dak’Art Biennale (Senegal, 2016).
In 2019, Katz was awarded the First National Bank Art Prize. She is a founding member of iQhiya, an 11-women artist collective which has performed across various spaces, including Documenta (in Kassel and Athens), Greatmore Studios, and Iziko South African National Gallery.
Katz lives and works between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Chancellor Maxwell (b. 1973, Chicago, IL)
For almost a decade, Chancellor Maxwell has been making artworks in the Open Studio of Thresholds Bridge South, an environment conceived for artists living with mental illnesses to realize their creative visions, develop technical skills, experiment with media, and exhibit their artwork. Since 2012, Maxwell has exhibited regularly at such spaces as Gallery H, Thresholds, Chicago; Henry’s Gallery, Thresholds Bridge South, Chicago; Ravenswood Artwalk, Chicago; Judy A. Saslow Gallery, Chicago; Project Onward at the Chicago Cultural Center; The Adler School of Professional Psychology, Chicago; and most recently at Left Field Gallery, San Francisco.
Maxwell’s artworks have been acquired by public and private collections. This is his first non-commercial exhibition.
Maxwell lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.
Lily van der Stokker (b. 1954, Den Bosch, Netherlands)
Exhibiting since the 1980s, Lily van der Stokker has had countless solo exhibitions. Notable among them are friendly good (Stedelijk museum, Amsterdam, 2018); Hammer Projects (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2015); Sorry, Same Wall Painting (The New Museum, New York, 2013); Terrible (Museum Bojman van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2010); The Complaints Club (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2005); as well as gallery exhibitions with Air de Paris, Paris (2014, 2005, 2000); Koenig & Clinton, New York (2014, 2010); and Kaufmann Repetto, New York and Milan (2019, 2012, 2010, 2005, 2002).
Her work has featured in a broad range of international group exhibitions at such institutions as the Beaufort Triennale, Oostende (2015); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2011); Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Schiedam (2011);South London Gallery (2010); Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, France (2009); and De Appel, Amsterdam (2008). Van der Stokker has also undertaken a number of permanent public installations including The Pink Building in Hannover (2000).
Van der Stokker lives and works between New York and Amsterdam.
Image: Lily van der Stokker, Pulling out Hairs from the Drain, 2015. Acrylic on wood panel. 42.52h x 49.61w in. Courtesy of the artist and kaufmann repetto, Milan / New York