THE EXTRAORDINARIES Group Exhibition Opens in Brooklyn

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THE EXTRAORDINARIES Group Exhibition Opens in Brooklyn

Curated by the Brooklyn-based The Espejo Organization for the Arts (EOarts), the group exhibition was a wonderful opportunity to see the work of some of the top foreign-born talents changing the American creative industry for good.

According to the research fund, New American Economy, more than 400,000 immigrants and foreign-born artists are in the United States. They help support the country's nearly $1 trillion creative industry sector. This particular aspect of the industry, the richness and diversity of talent that foreign-born artists bring to the U.S., is what the EOarts curators Kika Espejo and Julian Montenegro wanted to highlight in this group exhibition.

Twenty-six innovative international artists were selected to exhibit their work in March 2023 at the 35 Meadow Street Studios in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The artist shared a common journey as they all had been awarded an Extraordinary Ability nonimmigrant status, one of the most challenging working visas to obtain in the U.S. granted to international artists and creative professionals of exceptional achievement. Some pieces were presented for the first time, while others were part of well-known series or had been presented in several exhibitions before. The show was a unique opportunity to discover and enjoy them. Various mediums were presented, offering guests an all-encompassing gallery experience.

In the area of visual arts, the exhibition presented the work of Brazilian painter and illustrator Niege Borges. Her colorful and whimsical piece arrested the viewer’s eye and reminded of the delicate and vibrant tones in found impressionism or fauvism artworks. Another illustrator, Elham Ataeiazar, delighted us with her cartoon-like and enchantingly detailed work addressing the women's rights fight in the Middle East. The Japanese sand artist Naoshi's quirky work was also compelling. She presented a small portrait of a cartoonish girl, often appearing in her body of work. The show was also an opportunity to see a piece from Macedonian-born artist Mensur Bojda; his painting reminded me of early 90’s line work and was in direct line with Keith Haring’s legacy. The Lebanese mixed media artist Hildos presented a thought-provoking piece following her work about erotica and body image. The Hongkongese artist and milliner Penny Chu exhibited a new creation, part sculpture, part visual installation, an intricate work entitled “My Body, My Mind,” a deconstructed human body made of delicate organic-like sculptures.

Spanish painter Amaia Marzabal, who specializes in enigmatic portraits with vibrant brush strokes, also presented a piece from her series “identity lost in Social Media.” Aida Miro, another painter from Spain known for her high-spirited murals and giant portraits, was also part of the show with his iconic Gheisas. Gallery guests were equally enchanted by the rough textured artwork of Ukranian surface artist Maksym Kazarin and Indian multidisciplinary artist Kuldeep Singh, whose video piece “Still Here” captivated and mesmerized all.

Several photographers were involved in the group show. Erica Reade, a fine art and wedding photographer from Canada, had a black and white photo taken from her series entitled “Beach Lovers.” The couple embracing on the beach was perfectly framed, and the work encapsulated so many intricate feelings: the poetry of everyday, longing, tenderness, and nostalgia. An interesting piece by boudoir and fine arts Mexican photographer Gaspar Marquez was also featured: a woman's black and white portrait treated like a giant film negative, an audacious idea. Izabella Demavlys, the Swedish fashion and documentary photographer, gathered a large following for her series of portraits featuring women who survived acid attacks. She presented one of her new pieces, which challenged ideas of women’s aging and beauty. Staying with the theme of human experience, photographer Natalie Burlustkaya’s piece represented a mannequin’s head, out-of-focus with a crowd of people in the background, exploring the blurry boundaries between humanity and its representation. The photography section of the group show was intriguing and sparked many conversations among gallery guests.

The field of graphic design was nicely featured as well, with top talents such as art director Nicolas Mardones, English graphic designer Crissy Bogusz, Indian urban designer Uttara Ramakrishnan, Spanish architectural designer Ana Avanzini, and the Czech 3D designers Johana & Maxim Kroft. Mardones presented four posters from his collection of designs honoring vintage football graphics from the 1990s. Added to these were also featured the “Experiments on Cartography” designed by Uttara Ramakrishnan and the architectural painting from Ana Avanzini that presented influences of the iconic Brownstone construction of New York City. The video installation created by the Kroft duo, introducing us to a bubbly, poppy, and fun alternate world, was a delight to watch and experience, another crowd’s favorite.

A pleasant surprise, guests were fortunate to experience a “half time” special performance by Spanish actor and producer Edu Diaz. He presented an excerpt from his critically acclaimed show “Fantastic Mr. S.” Audience members were asked to participate and helped the actor create an intriguing light show and transitions as his character went on a metaphysical journey. Guests also interacted with Larissa Xavier’s video presentation. A Brazilian astrologer and editor, her charming video installation invited the audience to read more about their astrological signs. The descriptions were funny and witty - guests passing by were either reacting in shock or smiling from ear to ear.

In the area of fashion, the show counted the works of Chinese creative director Churou Wang, Japanese costume designer Saori Mitome, and Chinese bespoke tailor and designer Yuecen Cai. The various works sparked a debate among guests as they featured both everyday objects reimagined or sumptuous, intricate pieces. Adding fashion pieces was a lovely touch from the curator and artists, making the group show wholesome. It pushed the borders of what is possible in a group exhibition and offered a multifaceted cohesive experience.

Group shows are often tied together by a red thread. THE EXTRAORDINARIES featured artists with multicultural multitudes, resulting in a superb, one-of-a-kind show that reframed the possible artistic fabric and its status quo. The various works presented came together superbly to create new connective tissues and a plural aesthetic while being singular, universal, and intimate. Curators Kika Espejo and Julian Montenegro presented a powerful, ambitious, and stimulating show.

The exhibition opened to the public on Saturday at 35 Meadow Street Studios in Brooklyn.

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