Gisela McDaniel's "Bigger Than Me," 2023 (Courtesy of Gisela McDaniel, Pilar Corrias, London)
Gisela McDaniel's "Bigger Than Me," 2023 (Courtesy of Gisela McDaniel, Pilar Corrias, London)

Armory Week, a highly anticipated event in the art world, once again brought together a vibrant mix of artists, collectors, and foundations in New York City. This year’s Armory Week featured a diverse range of artworks, reflecting the rich tapestry of voices in the contemporary art scene. 

Galleries from around the world descended upon the city, and several notable exhibitions and projects caught the attention of attendees.

One of the standout exhibitions during Armory Week was “Marking Oneself in Dark Places,” by Tariku Shiferaw, hosted by Galerie Lelong & Co. This solo exhibition showcased new paintings and installations by Shiferaw, exploring themes of cultural space-making and confronting Eurocentric systems of erasure. Shiferaw’s work, including the “Mata Semay” series, offered a fresh perspective on the night sky, imagining how it would appear if influenced by diasporic cultural contributions. His powerful artworks not only challenged existing paradigms but also coincided with his museum debut at the Southampton African American Museum.

In another captivating exhibition, Sperone Westwater presented “In Light of the Hunt” by Shaunté Gates. Gates’ mixed media paintings drew viewers into a world where dreams, reality, theater and myth intertwined. His work explored the concept of “The Shadow,” examining the influence of hidden aspects of our personalities on society as a whole. Using cinematic visuals, philosophical concepts, and psychological theories, Gates delved into the interconnectedness of mythology, mass media, and societal control.

A prolific artist, Derrick Adams showcased various bodies of work, including “Style Variations” and “Eye Candy.” His “Style Variations” series reflected on cultural and social rituals tied to beauty, portraying men and women with expressive hairstyles. Adams’ “Eye Candy” project, comprising six panels depicting a Black male figure in various colored clothing, critically examined the media’s portrayal of Blackness as consumable. His work sparked conversations about consumerism, cultural standards and the power of seduction in media.

Additionally, Adams presented “Parlay,” inspired by the dice pattern in Black American fashion designer Patrick Kelly’s work. The prints explored the concept of life as a gamble and the shifting scale of chance, embracing the beauty of risk and uncertainty.

In another corner of the Armory Show, Gisela McDaniel’s portraits, hosted by Pilar Corrias, shed light on the effects of displacement and colonization. McDaniel, an Indigenous CHamoru artist, worked primarily with BIPOC women and non-binary individuals to disrupt systemic silencing in art and politics. Her work incorporated audio interviews, assemblage, and oil painting to give subjects control over their representation, challenging historical art traditions that favored the artist’s perspective.

Highlighting the diversity during Armory Week, Conrad Woody, a D.C.-based art collector, noted his appreciation for the Norman Lewis show at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery and Gabriel Mills’ solo booth at Alexander Berggruen.

An anonymous D.C.-based private art foundation president shared top Armory Week experience, emphasizing the historical context and value found in 20th-century art. The local art foundation leader drew attention to the importance of discovering artists like Marie Laurencin and her connections to early Armory Shows, which added a layer of significance to her works.

Armory Week 2023 demonstrated the continued relevance of art in sparking conversations, challenging norms and celebrating diversity. 

The exhibitions and projects on display offered a glimpse into the evolving landscape of contemporary art and the vital role played by D.C.-based artists, collectors and foundations in shaping its narrative.

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