The 2022 fall edition of the Affordable Art Fair in New York City took place last week from Thursday, September 22 through Sunday, September 25. Amid its 70 exhibitors and newly-introduced programming, the fair demonstrated a commitment to a long-running crowd-favorite program: the “Young Talent Exhibition.”
For the past two years, the fair has partnered with non-profit Arts Gowanus, tapping director Johnny Thornton as curator for the program. In speaking with the Affordable Art Fair team, it became clear that the fair has directed a renewed focus on fostering relationships with arts organizations that offer resources and amplify exposure for emerging artists. In assessing the fair’s new and continued programming as a whole, it’s apparent that the Affordable Art Fair seeks to foster a cohesive platform for arts organizations and their artists across various strata of the market—emerging, start-up, under-resourced, and newly established, for example.
In speaking about the program, Art Gowanus’ Johnny Thornton states: “One of the main missions of Arts Gowanus is supporting artists at all stages of their career. The Affordable Art Fair has given our young artists such an amazing platform that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to; it’s super important for us to keep things inclusive and accessible, and to help artists figure out exactly how they’re going to make a living doing this.”
This season’s “Young Talent Exhibition” was expanded to include a second site-specific exhibition. Artists Tiané Goines and Kathryn Godoy were each granted an opportunity to exhibit a new body of work created specifically for the fair. Thornton tapped these young artists for their distinct ethos as demonstrated in their work: “I think both artists really capture a spirit that feels very Brooklyn. Although it’s super different visually, there’s a certain rawness in the work of both artists that’s so important to Gowanus’ neighborhood identity. I love artists and artwork that are both a little punk rock [and] professional.”
One needn’t look too hard to identify this distinction Thornton mentions. Upon entry to the fair, one is confronted with a series of large-scale black and white photographs printed on vinyl. The photos are tightly-focused views of key elements of an individual’s body, and fashion accessories that can be interpreted as characteristics of identity. They are self-portraits and therefore make a strong statement about the performance of identity through fashion.
The photographs are by Tiané Goines (they/them). They posit a unique sense of style the artist describes as a stark contrast to normative fashion trends, expectations of body image, and the performance of gender. The works isolate key parts of the body: a disembodied foot, an aerial view of one’s head, a truncated view of one’s neck and face, and a view from behind. Each of these also isolates key fashion accessories: a patent-leather heeled boot, punk-rock suspenders, a spiked necklace, cornrows, and a set of headphones. It is apparent that the works are intended to suspend key signifiers of the subject in a way that calls attention to deliberate fashion choices and the consequent communication of unique taste, style, and identity.
Kathryn Godoy’s (they/them) work assumes a different aesthetic. Their paintings and works on paper are deeply psychological, reflective, and process-based. They demonstrate a poetic attention to the inner workings of the mind—namely memory and the subconscious. These works are layered, almost collaged. In certain works on paper, text is overlaid on abstract compositions, incantations that ebb between prose, poetry, and incoherent musing. The paintings feel as though they emerge from an “automatic drawing” process. The artist describes their process as a kind of “working out and working through,” as though the painting process is somehow revelatory of the emotions they are experiencing in real time. In being told that the artist works with elderly artists experiencing dementia and memory loss, it becomes obvious that her own works are a way to parse memory and suspend time between the present and the past, the fictive and the real.
Both artists wield a confidence in their work that surprises considering their age and relative stages of their art careers. In speaking with Thornton about how he came to identify these artists for the Arts Gowanus program, he states: “I met Tiané through their volunteer work with Gowanus Mutual Aid, and started working with them on a couple of different projects—like our Brooklyn Utopias exhibition, which they helped curate. They’ve since become our Emerging Artist-in-Residence, and I thought this opportunity would be a great next step for them.” As for Kathryn, she was introduced to Thornton through the Affordable Art Fair’s spring 2022 young talent, Traci Johnson (they/them), also an active member of the Arts Gowanus community and a great example of a talent who used last year’s presentation as a launch pad for their career.
Ultimately, the fair asserts that the “Young Talent Exhibition” remains a critical program, underscoring its role as an entry-point for artists and collectors alike. This year’s two-artist exhibition represents the continued growth of the fair and the opportunities that growth has offered to its community.