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Steffani Jemison: Prime

March 4 April 3, 2016

NurtureArt is pleased to present Prime, an exhibition of paintings and photographs by Steffani Jemison. Jemison is an artist and writer who uses transparency and opacity—in language, images, and marks—to test the limits of interpretation. Jemison’s research-intensive practice looks closely at moments in cultural and political history in which revolution hid in plain sight. Inspired by outsider artists, slave narratives, constructed languages, alternative alphabets, and utopian fiction, her work proposes privacy as a political strategy. Jemison’s most recent objects refer to a diverse set of resources, including the pitch-based language of Solresol created in 1827 by Francois Sudre, the account of literacy acquisition in The Confessions of Nat Turner, and the private script developed by visionary artist James Hampton.

Opening Reception and Performance: Mikrokosmos

Friday, March 4, 7pm

For the opening of the exhibition, Justin Hicks and Steffani Jemison will present a preview of their collaboration Mikrokosmosa performance vocabulary for voice and electronics that uses musical literacy as subject and form. Drawing from music pedagogy, musical languages, and pop musical references—including the Orff Schulwerk, Béla Bartok’s Mikrokosmos piano learning exercises, and Louis Armstrong’s classic song, “What a Wonderful World,” among others—the work connects visual signs, musical symbols, and real world referents. Mikrokosmos is commissioned by Steirischer Herbst; it will be deployed in a site-specific performance for the Neuemuseum Graz, Austria, in October 2016.


Steffani Jemison: Prime

Steffani Jemison was born in Berkeley, California, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009) and a BA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University (2003). Jemison uses time-based, photographic, and discursive platforms to examine “progress” and its alternatives. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Drawing Center, LAXART, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, Laurel Gitlen, Team Gallery, and others. She has presented readings and performances at the Menil Collection, Southern Exposure, ThreeWalls, and the Poetry Project. She has participated in many artist residencies, including Smack Mellon; the International Studio and Curatorial Program, Project Row Houses, the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Jemison was a 2013 Tiffany Foundation Biennial Awardee and a 2014 Art Matters Grantee. She is currently an artist-in-residence in the Sharpe-Walentas Space Program and teaches at Parsons The New School for Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Justin Hicks is a composer, sound designer, and performer. His work has been presented at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Baryshnikov Arts Center, PS122, The Juilliard School,The Knitting Factory, Jack, Arlene’s Grocery, Pianos and Bowery Poetry Club. He was a member of Kara Walker’s 6-8 Months Space and served as performer and sound designer for Go/Forth (Please, Bury Me) by Kaneza Schaal. Go/Forth premiered at PS122’s Coil Festival in 2016 and will be presented as part of the River to River Festival in June 2016. Hicks was a performer and sound designer for The Geneva Project by Jennifer Harrison Newman and Charlotte Brathwaite and the Obie Award-winning production of Prophetika: An Oratorio by Charlotte Brathwaite. His work The Odetta Project: Waterboy and the Mighty World, was shown at Bowery Arts and Science in 2014 and was featured during the Freedom Songs Festival: Which Side Are You On, Friend? at Jack in 2015. Most recently, he served as musical director for Steffani Jemison’s Promise Machine (MoMA 2015). His album Scratches from Mercy is available via Bandcamp.