June 18, 2021
Featuring Susan Chen, Susanna Coffey, Lindsey Brittain Collins, Ian Decker, Emily Henretta, Farah Mohammad, Clintel Steed, Stipan Tadić, Matthew Woodward, and Yuri Yuan
From expansive cityscapes to intimate public encounters, MaterPolis gathers 10 artists whose works explore what it means to live in a city. Building from traditional landscape painting, the artists use a variety of traditional and non-traditional mediums to present firsthand views of urban scenes.
Reflecting a shared interest in surface and material process, glowing color and rhythmic compositions layer a sense of immediacy with the slow time of construction. Inhabiting architectural imagery, the artists question how the built environment shapes human experiences of identity, race, history, community, isolation, and intimate otherness.
As people begin to move back into shared spaces after two years of domestic distancing, MaterPolis kindles a sense of untold and overtold stories, of the change and continuity housed within the generational lines of the city.
Susan Chen is an artist searching for the meaning of home. Through painted portraiture, Chen investigates the psychology of race and concepts of community, immigration, prejudice, identity, family, longing, love, and loss. She takes a strong interest in the lived experiences of her sitters, who are currently members of the Asian diaspora that Chen finds through the Internet and paints both in person and via Zoom. Since 2019 Chen has collaborated with over 70 different sitters in the studio. She is curious to discover how painting can be used to survey communities at work and is driven by the political potential of figurative painting to enact social change through increased visibility and representation.
Chen was born to a family of illiterate farmers, factory workers, and illegal immigrants turned merchants who originated from rural villages in China and Taiwan. Her parents immigrated to Hong Kong in the late 1980s for factory work, and she subsequently grew up between Hong Kong (a former British colony) and the United Kingdom during the Hong Kong handover. From the age of 12, Chen began commuting between a small apartment in Hong Kong and an all-girls British boarding school in England on a bi-yearly basis on scholarship. For college, she moved to the United States, becoming a first-generation American.
A 2022 Forbes Under 30 North America Honoree and 2020 Hopper Prize Winner, Chen received a master of fine arts from Columbia University in 2021 and a bachelor's degree from Brown University in 2015. Her work has been featured multiple times in New American Paintings and reviewed by the New York Times, Hyperallergic, Artsy, Artnet, Art & Object, Observer, It’s Nice That, Galerie Magazine, and others. Chen presented her debut New York solo exhibition, On Longing, at Meredith Rosen Gallery in August 2020 and her debut Los Angeles solo exhibition, I Am Not A Virus, at Night Gallery in September 2021.
Chen currently lives and works in New York City and is an artist-in-residence at Silver Art Projects in their Social Justice and Activism program.
Susanna Coffey’s artwork has been exhibited in many museums, including the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Aldrich Museum, Hood Museum, and American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work is in the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery; Art Institute of Chicago; Minneapolis Museum of Art; National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; Karamay Museum of Art in Xinjiang, China; and Museum of Contemporary Art in Seville, Spain, among others. Among her awards are the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. Her work is represented by Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects in New York City, Alpha Gallery in Boston, and Galeria Isabel Ignacio in Seville, Spain. Coffey lives and works in New York City.
Lindsay Brittain Collins
Lindsey Brittain Collins is a New York-based painter working across multiple mediums, including collage, sculpture, and installation. Collins creates architectural abstractions that narrate her encounters with built environments and urban spaces. Each painting serves as an archive of a place or moment in time. Inspired by contemporary and historical events, memory, and personal experiences, her conceptually-driven work focuses on sharing untold stories and examining the role architecture plays in shaping social and economic structures. Her work confronts the erasure of Blackness and spaces of Blackness in history, such as African-American burial grounds and historically Black neighborhoods, raising questions of visibility and invisibility — shining a light on the stories of the people and places that have been overlooked. She is particularly interested in the relationship between architecture and race and exploring ways in which equity can be built. Her process is both heavily research-based while simultaneously spontaneous. Drawing on her academic background in business, economics, and sociology, she approaches the topics in her work through a critical lens.
Collins received a master of fine arts from Columbia University in 2021. She holds a master of business administration from Columbia Business School and a bachelor's degree in economics and sociology from the University of Virginia. In 2018 she was appointed to the Art and Architectural Review Board for the state of Virginia. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center and was the recipient of the 2019 Arena Stage Emerging Leader in the Arts Award. Currently, Collins is an artist-in-residence at the World Trade Center through Silver Art Projects, where this year’s program focus is on social justice and activism.
I make paintings about the exhausted, who only desire to not be exhausted, whose land is exhausted, and even though it is not their land, they are the land and the dirt their world is built upon. These people are my family. Layered with coupons, mementos, found objects, and family photos that repeat and degrade across different paintings, my practice explores the totality of the world but is expressed through the local and familial.
The absurdity and violence of the world is banal and obvious and is held in mundane materials like the supermarket coupons layered into my painting. These coupons, like Dutch still life paintings, are colorful, organized natures completely abstracted from the violence and manipulation that created them. Through the process of layering, tearing, and painting, this violence and exhaustion is exercised. Cycles of decay and regeneration imbue the painting with a memory, a history, a surface, and an alchemy of accident. This creates an aura of the land’s persona and the communities that inhabit it.
The painting is less about making sense of the world but finding significance through the process of searching. Many landscapes only offer escapism; these landscapes seek grace through presence.
Emily Henretta received a master of fine art from Columbia University in 2011. Henretta has exhibited her work at the International Print Center New York, the Westside Gallery at the School of Visual Arts, the BRIC Rotunda Gallery, Room East Gallery, Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, and the Inside Out Museum in Beijing. She is the recipient of a Bronx Council of the Arts Grant and the Bronx Museum AIM fellowship. Henretta lives and works in the Bronx, New York.
Farah Mohammad is a Pakistani printmaker and installation artist based in New York City. Some of Mohammad's most recent works have been woodcuts, screen prints, monotypes, and etchings of architectural structures that symbolize resilience. She draws inspiration from urban spaces undergoing change. Through her work she creates a visual reality, where her past, present, and Pakistani and American identities can all coexist.
Mohammad received a bachelor's degree from Bennington College and a master of fine arts from Columbia University. Her exhibition highlights include International Print Center New York (IPCNY), the Jewish Museum, the Wallach Art Gallery, Field Projects (New York City), and Local Project Art Space (LIC, New York). She was recently the recipient of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Robert Blackburn Printmaking Award (2021), a Lucas T. Carlson Grant at Columbia University (2020), and IPCNY's Coursework Award (2020).
Clintel Steed (b. 1977, Salt Lake City), is an American artist living in New York City. Steed received a bachelor of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a master of fine arts from Indiana University, and completed advanced studies at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, most recently Clintel Steel: Endymion at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York; Emoji Show at Klaus von Nichtsagend, New York; and So Much, So Little, All At Once at Regina Rex, New York, among others. He is the recipient of the John Koch Award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, and recent press includes Hyperallergic, Artcritical, and the New York Sun.
Stipan Tadić (b. 1986, Zagreb, Croatia), earned a master's degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (2011) and a master of fine arts from Columbia University (2020). His first solo exhibition was in Zagreb in 2009 and since then he has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Europe and the United States.
Matthew Woodward was born in Rochester, New York, in 1981. He was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (bachelor of fine arts, 2005) and the New York Academy of Art (master of fine arts, 2007). He has taught and lectured at schools and colleges throughout the United States. Woodward has been an artist-in-residence at the Edward Albee Foundation, Cill Rialiag in Ireland, the Vermont Studio Center, and in 2021 was the Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s Mid Career artist-in-residence at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including New American Paintings and the Wall Street Journal, and has been reviewed in Hyperallergic, Art Pulse, Chicago Art Magazine, Bad at Sports, and Art Critical. Currently, Woodward lives and works in New York.
An experience of history is an experience of space. Or perhaps an experience of grief. The history of something exists as long as it remains in use or as long as it, as a particular form, is still connected to its original function. It’s the age-old yarn: when form and function divide and only form remains vital, history slips apart into memory. The slip is like the drone of a lake dragged under the way. There, like a body broken open and pressed to the mouth, grief emerges from form like a vision of loss calling itself to the point of being. Grief, in this way, is connected to any given monument, to any form it takes, any building in a city, to every walk, a clutch of flowers in a doorway. At the same time grief is also a sign, part of a record of the events that are gathered together to create our collective memory. As a sign, grief stands in the pass of space from loss to longing. Death, loss, grief: these have always been attributes of our current moment. However, seen through the lens of a transformation, they are also windows leading into some new hope, like healing, fighting on. My work approaches architecture through grief as a generator of transformation. I search the city endlessly for iron work, finials, decorative ornament — signs of an architectural memory that traces an understanding of ourselves as a people searching, walking endlessly. Through small drawings and large drawings that sprawl enormously over walls, drawings that capture the ornament with meticulous attention to measuring, remeasuring: through surfaces singing with touch, with proximity and contact, signs once meant to signal loss are channeled into renewal. My work reclaims these signs as a celebration of history, of ourselves learning.
Yuri Yuan (b. 1996, Harbin, China) received a master of fine arts from Columbia University in 2021. Yuan received a bachelor of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019. She was a recipient of the Helen Frankenthaler Scholarship at Columbia University in 2020 and Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant in 2019. She has exhibited work at Make Room Gallery, Los Angeles; the ROOM Contemporary Art Space, Venice, Italy; Lenfest Center for the Arts, New York; Sullivan Galleries, Chicago; Siragusa Gallery, Chicago; and International Center for the Arts, Umbria, Italy. Her work will be included in a forthcoming exhibition at the Wallach Gallery at Lenfest Center for the Arts, New York. Yuan lives and works in New York City.
Montrose Harbor, 3/16/12, 2012 (detail)
Oil on panel
3 x 5 inches
Courtesy of the artist