Casey Kaplan now representing Sydney Cain

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Casey Kaplan now representing Sydney Cain
Sydney Cain, Land Circuits I, 2024 (detail). Photo: Dan Bradica Studio.

NEW YORK, NY.- Casey Kaplan announced representation of Sydney Cain.

Sydney Cain (b. 1991, San Francisco, CA) wields carbon-based and mineral materials like charcoal, powdered metals, graphite, chalk, and pigments on wood or paper to map the evolution of African diasporic histories and rebuild narratives within a reverential refuge. By mining space for ancestral reclamation and tracing the collective consciousness of these communities, Cain defines experiences beyond a visible plane. Their practice is rooted in personal and collective genealogy; it contemplates the lasting effects of subjugation on Black lineage, while commemorating origin stories and probing existential inquiry.

Cain explores the boundless territories of myth, spirituality, and the afterlife by testing sensory limits and defying dominant narratives. Notions of freedom are reconsidered across birth and death as memory extends beyond corporeal and linear time. Through a complementary process of unearthing and elevating, Cain’s mostly black pigmented scenes are exposed in low light spaces, simultaneously sculpted, rubbed, and erased to reveal the light buried beneath. Within a transitory landscape of bodies, emotive faces, natural forms, celestial symbols, and transient objects materialize. Figures are pulled from the dust of loose material, emerging like apparitions and communing across water and within dense forests. These manifested, elusive beings are reminders of the unseen. Powdered metals, mixed in pigment, oxidize and illuminate Cain’s compositions, both grounding the scene in earthly remains and alluding to the expanse of an immaterial realm.

Cloaked in the weight of the past and present, Cain’s congregations find their footing in dualities—as ever-evolving entities, their presence pushes the confines of geography and circumstance. Cain’s series Ark of Bones (2021-present) and Refutations (2018-2020) consist of large-scale works on wood and paper that render metaphysical landscapes to conjure communal remembrance. Radio Imagination (2021), an installation of acrylic, steel, and chalk on wood, exhibited in Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism at the Oakland Museum of California, CA (2021-2022), and activated by composer Nicole Mitchell’s soundscape, documents the healing qualities of sound. Informed by Octavia Butler’s concept of “radio imagination” (an imagination that hears), Cain investigates the openings that exist beyond visibility, that are only accessed through sonic vibration. By merging ephemerality and figurative representation, Cain’s work resists cultural erasure and, instead, metamorphoses, locating the void between physical existence and extrasensory perception.

Sydney Cain (b. 1991, San Francisco, CA, lives and works in New Haven, CT) received their MFA from Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT (2024), and their BA from San Francisco State University, CA (2021). Exhibitions include Crafting Radicality: Bay Area Artists from the Svane Gift, de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA (2023); Figure Telling: Contemporary Bay Area Figuration, di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa, CA (2023); In Frequencies, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV (2022); Collective Arising: The Insistence of Black Bay Area Artists, Museum of Sonoma County, Sonoma, CA (2022); Sydney Cain: Refutations, The Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA (2021) (solo); Mothership: Voyage into Afrofuturism, Oakland Museum of California, CA (2021); and The Black Woman Is God: Reprogramming That God Code, SOMArts, San Francisco, CA (2016). Cain’s work is included in the collections of the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV; the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; and the Crocker Museum, San Jose, CA.

Cain will present their inaugural solo exhibition with Casey Kaplan in September of 2025.

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