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'Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists' Opening This Fall At Scottsdale Museum Of Contemporary Art

Including works from Mia B. Adams, Merryn Omotayo Alaka, Vincent Chung, Steffi Faircloth, Sam Frésquez, Estephania and more.

'Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists' Opening This Fall At Scottsdale Museum Of Contemporary Art

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents works by emerging Phoenix-based artists in a group show titled "Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists," on view Sept. 11, 2021 - Jan. 23, 2022.

"The current moment is marked by lots of change in the world and that is a space where contemporary art museums can thrive. Providing a platform for young local artists who are responding to the evolving times became an important goal for SMoCA and we are grateful to have such a talented pool of artists in the valley," said Jennifer McCabe, SMoCA director and chief curator.

The 11 artists featured in this exhibition are younger than, or near, the age of 30, including Mia B. Adams, Merryn Omotayo Alaka, Vincent Chung, Steffi Faircloth, Sam Frésquez, Estephania González, Lena Klett, Cydnei Mallory, Brianna Noble, Lily Reeves and Papay Solomon. This will be the first museum exhibition for many of the artists, although several participated in past or current juried Arizona Biennial.

Curator of the exhibition, Lauren O'Connell reflects, "upon moving back to Arizona in 2017 and getting reacquainted with the art community, I started to meet more and more artists who were graduating from ASU. I wanted to highlight this group of artists that were mostly under 30 years old and making incredibly powerful work. The artists selected show a high level of criticality and professionalism, and, once asked to participate, all jumped at the chance to make new work for the exhibition. It has been a privilege to work with these brilliant emerging artists who have promising futures ahead of them."

Participating artist Brianna Noble, whose paintings will be on view this fall, said this is their first time exhibiting in a museum, ever.

"It means so much to be recognized by my community and to be seen amongst peers that I admire. It feels like a huge supportive leap for my career," Noble said. "I can't wait for the opportunities that may come from it."

The new works created for "Forever Becoming" speak to the resilience and determination of a new generation of artists who expose the complexities of becoming within the rapidly evolving ethos of today. These artworks address a variety of topics, including marginalized communities, social justice, environmental degradation, exploration of sexuality and reckoning with personal narratives. Several of the works focus on healing the mind and body from past traumas and remediation of environmental degradation from human intervention.

"In my new body of work, I use braided hair and pony beads as a symbol of identity and vulnerability. The acts of both hair braiding and beading are laborious, meditative and repetitive; a process that serves to be transformative in nature. I view this new work as a reinterpretation of the historical significance of African hair braiding and beading, and to serve as a metaphor for the passage of time, the phases of grief, and an extension of my body. This exhibition has provided me a platform to start a conversation surrounding identity, vulnerability and visibility; and I am grateful to be given such a space to do so. I am so honored to be working with SMoCA and Lauren and to have their support and encouragement along this journey," said Merryn Alaka, artist.

This group of artists intersect in several ways: each artist graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science or Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University between 2016 and 2019; additionally, several of the artists collaborate with each other on artwork. Despite these crosscurrents, the diverse group of artists have distinctive styles that allow the viewer to see a wide scope of contemporary art, including figurative painting, abstract drawing, sculpture, video and installation, to name a few.

"Growing up in Phoenix, it always felt like this was a place where things were constantly in a state of flux, for better or worse. I still think that Phoenix is a place of many changes, and while this can be a destabilizing force many times, I also think that it creates a lot of possibility as well. I see this positive force especially in my peers here, and I am honored to be included in this exhibition alongside so many artists who I truly admire for, among many things, their intelligence, skill, vision and drive," said Lena Klett, artist.

While participating artists are currently living and working in Phoenix, not all are originally from the Valley. Estephania González moved to Arizona from the mid-west in order locate herself near the U.S. Mexico border. González explains, "Living in the borderlands as a woman inhabiting a constant state of Nepantla, my colonized body is forced to reckon with this in-between state. I traverse the arid desert, learning about this land's history and ecology as my relationship to Madre Tierra continues to unfold."

Artists who come from different places have the ability to share new perspectives with audiences in the Phoenix-metro area. Artist Papay Solomon's work is greatly influenced by his home country of Liberia and West African diaspora. Steffi Faircloth is similarly influenced by her hometown of Nogales, Arizona.

"Working in video has allowed me to be more performative and has made me think about the many different ways that you can document your body, language and, ultimately, experiences.
When I moved to Phoenix, I gained the perspective to be critical of my Bordertown experience. Being a part of this exhibition allows me to continue to challenge stereotypes that are associated with Bordertowns, as well as being Mexican American."

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