MFA Fine Arts and ARTNOIR present Critical Sound Boarding, an intimate conversation between artists Elia Alba, Firelei Báez and Saya Woolfalk. In this dialogue, Báez – who primarily creates works on paper – and multimedia artists Alba and Woolfalk will discuss their individual practice, social commentary, as well as how their education and relationships with other artists and each other have shaped their work and propelled it forward. The conversation will be moderated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, indepdent curator and co-founder of ARTNOIR.
Born in Brooklyn in 1962, Elia Alba interrogates boundaries and categorization—of race, gender, history, culture—and challenges perceptions of their fixedness to present new interpretations and narratives. The artist graduated from Hunter College and completed the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, and her work has been included in exhibitions at El Museo del Barrio, New York; the Rhode Island School of Design; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the 10th Havana Biennial. Additionally, Alba and her work have been recognized by various institutions such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Her most recent project, "The Supper Club," which creates portraits of over 60 contemporary artists of color (including Báez and Woolfalk) and brings them together for meaningful dialogue, was recently on view at The 8th Floor, New York, and is funded by The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation; a publication is forthcoming.
Firelei Báez was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, in 1981 and studied at Cooper Union, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Hunter College where she was awarded her MFA in 2010. Interested in race, anthropology, science fiction and black subjectivity, Báez uses her work to interrogate diasporic identity formation. For Báez, art, through humor and fantasy, is a way to explore identities and to fight against stereotypes and essentialism. Her work has been exhibited in group shows at the Pérez Art Museum, Miami; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta; as well as a recent solo show, Bloodlines at The Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Additionally, Báez has held residencies at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace, The Lower East Side Printshop and the Bronx Museum. She was also awarded the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award, as well as the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Award in Painting.
Inspired by science fiction, Saya Woolfalk (b. 1979, Gifu City, Japan) uses painting, video, sculpture, performance and installation to offer rich new worlds replete with fantastic figures adorned with garments of geometric patterns and vibrant colors. In her work, these forms are comprised of human, animal and botanical forms; by combining these elements, she highlights cultural hybridity, offers a critique of present society and creates a surreal utopia. Woolfalk studied at Brown University and received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her works have been shown at MoMA PS1, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; The Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco; and Performa 9; her solo exhibitions include "ChimaTEK Life Products" at Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA (2014) and "The Empathics" at the Montclair Art Museum (2012) in Montclair, NJ. Additionally, Woolfalk has been the recipient of several awards including a Fulbright Fellowship for research in Brazil, a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.
ARTNOIR is a global collective of culturalists who design experiences aimed to engage this generation’s dynamic and diverse creative community. We offer an alternative perspective to the traditional arts narrative, support the freedom of artistic expression for all and provide a platform for bold acts of creativity and storytelling.
#ARTNOIR | @ArtnoirCo
Elia Alba | @Asahinyc
Firelei Baez | @FireleiBaez
Saya Woolfalk | @SayaWoolfalk