Hapticity: A Theory of Touch and Identity

Youngsook Choi
Enam Gbewonyo
The Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers (Loretta Pettway Bennett)
Basil Kincaid
Eric N. Mack
Althea McNish
Emily Moore
Anya Paintsil
Renee So
Cristina Tufiño
Michaela Yearwood-Dan

curated by
Enam Gbewonyo and Marcelle Joseph

16 September – 30 October 2021

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‘‘All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change Changes you.
The only lasting truth is Change. God is Change.’

- Octavia E. Butler in ‘Parable of the Sower’ (1993)


Lychee One proudly presents Hapticity: A Theory of Touch and Identity, a group exhibition curated by Enam Gbewonyo and Marcelle Joseph and featuring the work of an inspiring roster of 11 international artists and designers, cross-generational in scope and working across a myriad of material-based practices that interweave the processes of tactile making with the complex intersectional frameworks of race, gender, sexuality and class today. How does touch express lived experience and humanity?

We are slowly emerging from an unimaginable period in which human touch, that inherent form of connection so deeply rooted in human behaviour, was forbidden. Yet it is through touch that we experience and thus connect to the world, its celestial energies and each other on a cellular level. The impact on our collective mental health has been immeasurably taxing to say the least. It is no coincidence that interest in tactile forms of making such as knitting have re-emerged during this period. Art and craft are long hailed for their healing benefits, which are rooted in the nature of the making process. Never has the importance of this sensory experience been clearer. In lieu of human touch, what better than the touch of yarn, clay or fabric against the skin as it is moulded and woven into new forms of function?

On the surface, the works in this exhibition provide an immediate sensory connection but there are other stories buried deeper, metaphysically, within their layered materiality. The artists in this exhibition demonstrate a mastery of materials in which intricate new languages are fashioned. There are those for whom the used clothing and material of others – familial or unknown – tells the story of the whole. For some, their materials are the vehicle with which mythology and prehistoric cultures are reimagined. For others, it is the simple joy of finding new freedom in old ways of mark making. And others still, a visceral exploration of the historical and present-day effects of abuses of power on the Global South and its diaspora. Hapticity: A Theory of Touch and Identityreveals how, for tactile makers such as these eleven artists, touch becomes a core element in their exploration of identity and self. Every fold, stitch and mark made – a nuanced detail of lived experience. The complete work forever cementing these stories in the fabric of global history.

As artists, to create by hand is vital. In truth, it is vital to all. It is how we make sense of the world and our place in it. Yet we live in a world reliant on mass production, whose skewed values have manufactured a materialistic consumerist society. The bedrock of capitalism! In their very act of employing historically indigenous crafts, the artists in this exhibition challenge this way of life. These are acts of rebellion and resistance. Invocations of the ancestral as a pathway to truth. Craft by its very existence negates the limitations placed upon it in the present. Its processes are an unlearning of patriarchal values and a return to an inherently universal form of expression. In the handmade, there is no hierarchy and no barriers to race, gender, sexuality or class. It is being in and of itself. It is an extension of its maker, whose codes (DNA) and energy now lay bound within it. And the made object becomes a symbolic talisman. Making beauty out of the truth and ugliness of our world, a physical manifestation of the experience of the world as it is felt within the body.

Tactile makers are custodians of the tradition and its message, exploring community with or through the products and processes of the sensory. Hapticity: A Theory of Touch and Identity makes known the alchemical power of touch to translate being and consciousness into the very physical so that it can be further transmitted and understood by the consciousness of the many. The works in this exhibition will channel their message through and to the audience just as they did their makers. The viewer needs but go within themselves and feel the energy of the makers’ touch.

Text by Enam Gbewonyo

Special thanks to Haringey Council and the Bruce Castle Museum for the loan of the Althea McNish work in this exhibition from their collection.

Artist Biographies

Youngsook Choi is a London-based artist and researcher with a PhD in human geography. Self-described as a woman, mother and migrant of Korean origin, Choi explores the institutional abuse of human labour and nature, often through the lens of working-class women and migrants. Factory Girl (2011), the work featured in this exhibition as well as the artist’s first solo show in Korea, is an homage to the young women who worked in the large clothing factories in 1960’s and 70’s Korea under the dictatorship that institutionalised labour abuse for accelerating export. Provoking conversations around the contemporary value system of human labour, this sculptural work features a mannequin donning a 1970’s style woman’s dress made of a fabric printed with Bacchus bottles – the Red Bull of Korea. As a quick remedy for physical exhaustion, Bacchus is still much favoured in many working environments where intensive labour is required. As a symbol of blue-collar culture, Bacchus also alludes to the economic system that continuously exploits manual labourers. Factory Girl,standing alone under the disco ball, chronicles the dreams and memories of these young female workers that allowed them to escape briefly from their abusive working conditions for a night or two. Choi also works as a public art practitioner and researcher and is the current recipient of a Liverpool Biennial 2021, a-n The Artists Information Company and Open Culture Research Bursary. Choi has worked on commissions with various institutions and communities, such as Arts Catalyst, Barbican Centre, Rich Mix, Milton Keynes Arts Centre, MK Islamic Arts Heritage and Culture and Heart of Glass, all in the UK. Currently, Choi is the selected artist for Constellations 2020/21 supported by UP Projects and Flat Time House, and the associate artist of Asia Art Activism at Raven Row in London.

Enam Gbewonyo (b. 1980, London) is a British Ghanaian artist and curator who lives and works in London. She began her career as a knitwear designer in New York after completing her BA in Textile Design at Bradford School of Art and Design, Bradford, UK in 2001. Her practice investigates identity, womanhood and humanity through the mediums of textile and performance. Gbewonyo also advocates handcraft’s spiritual healing powers, using processes like embroidery, knitting, weaving, print and wirework. By using craft as her portal, the artist pushes us to face the truth of a dark global history and the emotions it brings forth. Performance using movement and the spoken word entered her practice as another vehicle for Gbewonyo to tell the stories and personal epiphanies she was unearthing, creating powerful live spaces for healing, both for the artist and her audiences. Her work will be presented in her first solo exhibition at TAFETA Gallery, London, UK in July 2021. Recent group exhibitions include: Social Fabric, Fold Gallery, London, UK (2021); Memoria,Frac Nouvelle- Aquitaine MÉCA, Bordeaux, France (2021); Antisocial Isolation, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK (2020); GOSSAMER, Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate, UK (2019); BBFA Presents, TAFETA Gallery, London, UK (2018); and The Gallery of Small Things, Centre Culturel Douta Seck, Dakar, Senegal (2018). Recent performances include: We Invoke the Black. To Rest (an activation of the Lynette Yiadom-Boakye exhibition in collaboration with sound artist Liz Gre); Tate Britain, London, UK (2020); Nude Me/Under the Skin: Unbinding a Path to Black Women’s Healing One Pantyhose at a Time, Two Temple Place, London, UK (2020); Nude Me/Under the Skin: The Awakening of Black Women’s Visibility One Pantyhose at a Time, Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate, UK, Christie’s London, UK and The Palace of Ritual, Palazzo Donà, Venice Biennale, Italy (2019); and agbegbɔgbɔ (an activation of the Senga Nengudi exhibition at Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2019) in partnership with International Curators Forum (ICF)). Gbewonyo is also the founder of the Black British Female Artist (BBFA) Collective, a platform to support emerging Black women artists in building sustainable careers whilst working to advocate for more inclusivity in the British arts landscape. Gbewonyo’s curatorial work is dedicated to highlighting artists from Africa and its diaspora. Curated exhibitions include: No Room for Fear, Hogan Lovells LLP, London, UK (co-curated with Nigerian gallery SMO Contemporary and in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art) (2019); Crossroads (delivered for Black Shade Projects), Ozwald Boateng, London, UK (2019); DISPERSED (the Arts Council-funded, Ghanaian cross-cultural exchange project), Accra, Ghana (2017); the African and African-Caribbean Design Diaspora Festival (co-curated with artist, designer and curator Abi Wright), Bargehouse OXO Tower, London, UK (2015); and BBFA Projects for TEDxEuston, London, UK (2015).

Basil Kincaid (b. 1986, St. Louis, MO, US) is a post-disciplinary artist based in St. Louis, Missouri who constructs, contemplates and revises self-imposed and conditioned limitations and explores their fixity. Through quilting, assemblage, collage, photography, installation and performance – done with found, salvaged and donated materials – Kincaid discards social mores while drafting alternative cultural fabrics. With an improvisational and community-oriented approach, resourcefulness and freedom of imagination emerge as critical components in the liberation of spirit. The work in this exhibition is a quilted piece. Kincaid’s adoption of quilting as an aesthetic technique is inspired by his own heritage, now acting as a quasi-metaphysical adoption of collaboration with his ancestors, allowing him to participate in a legacy that extends both backwards and forward in time. Kincaid studied drawing and painting at Colorado College, graduating in 2010. Kincaid has exhibited works with such galleries as Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL, Mindy Solomon in Miami, FL, Kravets Wehby in New York, NY, Carl Kostyal in London, UK and Stockholm, Sweden, and others. Kincaid was the inaugural Artist in Residence at JP Morgan and has four works in their permanent collection. Kincaid attended The Fountainhead Residency in Miami, FL in 2017. International, Artist in Residence Program in Boston, MA. In 2019, Kincaid debuted his first museum performance, The Release, at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, MO. In 2020, Kincaid received the Regional Arts Commission Fellowship. In 2021, Kincaid became a United States Artist Fellow. Kincaid’s forthcoming exhibitions in 2021 include Realms of Refuge, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL, and three solo shows, at Galleria Leyendecker, Tenerife, Canary Islands; Galleria Poggiali, Milan, Italy; and Kostyal Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden. He is represented by Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami.

Eric N. Mack (b. 1987, Columbia, MD) lives and works in New York. He completed his MFA at Yale University, New Haven, CT in 2012 after finishing his BFA at The Cooper Union in New York, NY in 2010. Mack refers to himself as a painter, yet his works rarely observe the medium’s traditional canvas-to-stretcher format. Rather, his tactile assemblages, created from a dynamic combination of used textiles, worn clothes, moving blankets and torn rags, alongside photographs and pull outs from books and magazines, extend and transform the notion of painting. His use of colour, form and material as elements in a compositional lexicon as well as the stained or dyed fabrics which are his principal medium, declare the origin of his practice in the investigation of painting in an expanded field, while the way his compositions occupy and transform space are evidence of their sculptural nature. Recomposed with oil and acrylic paint, fabrics are hung using ropes and rods so that each architectural composition expands into the viewer’s space. In this way, Mack interrogates the very nature of painting, opening up a dialogue that explores the performative qualities inherent to his process. With its use of accumulated, found and sourced materials, Mack’s work grapples with the schism that exists between fashion and art. From a young age, Mack was fascinated by the world of fashion, sometimes working in his father’s discount clothing store. Employing a diverse array of textiles – some aesthetic, some utilitarian, most discarded, their use-value depleted – Mack’s paintings investigate how different materials reflect identity. The variety of sources assembled in Mack’s artworks leads to the creation of a non-hierarchical system, refusing to privilege the readymade over the hand crafted, or one history over another. Selected solo exhibitions include those at Simon Lee Gallery, London (2021 and 2018); Morán Morán, Los Angeles, CA (2020); Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY (2019); Power Station, Dallas, TX (2019); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2017); and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2017). Recent group exhibitions include: Unbound, Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, GA (2020); Desert X, Rancho Mirage, CA (2019); Grace Wales Bonner: A Time for New Dreams, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2019); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2019); The Vitalist Economy of Painting, Galerie Neu, Berlin, Germany (2018); Sculptures, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, NY; Inherent Structure, The Wexner Center, Columbus, OH; Blue Black, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, MO (2017); Ungestalt, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2017); Making & Unmaking: An Exhibition curated by Duro Olowu, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK (2016); and Greater New York 2015, MOMA PS1, Long Island City, NY (2015). In 2020, Mack turned his hand to curating with a group exhibition titled Pedestrian Profanities at Simon Lee Gallery in New York, NY. Mack has been an artist in resident at the Kaleidoscope Residency, Milan, Italy (2018); Delfina Foundation, London, UK (2017); Rauschenberg Residency, Captiva Island, FL (2017); and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2014-15). He is represented by Simon Lee Gallery in London and Hong Kong and Morán Morán in Los Angeles.

Althea McNish (1924-2020) was a British textile designer of Trinidadian origin who is considered the first designer of African-Caribbean descent to achieve international recognition. Her designs injected much-needed colour and life into the post-war fashion and textiles industry from the 1950’s onwards. Born in Trinidad, McNish moved to London in 1951 with her mother, who was a well-regarded dressmaker and dress designer, to take a place to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture but instead took courses at the London School of Printing and Graphic Art, the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art. In her final year at the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts, she became interested in textiles with the encouragement of Eduardo Paolozzi, her night class tutor at the Central School, and chose printed textiles as her subject of study on progressing to the Royal College of Art. On graduating, she immediately won a commission from Arthur Stewart-Liberty, head of the Liberty department store, sending her the same day by taxi to Zika Ascher, who commissioned her to design a fashion collection for Dior. Most of McNish’s designs are based on nature, including the textile design featured in this exhibition - Golden Harvest (1957), the bright orange, yellow and black graphic pattern inspired by the wheat fields of Essex, which reminded McNish of Trinidad’s sugarcane plantations. Her drawings and sketches fused the rich, tropical colours, flowing shapes and organic textures of the wheat into this repeating fabric design. This textile design was later manufactured by Hull Traders in 1959 as an upholstery fabric manually screen printed on cotton satin using a range of deep colour pigment dyes. This Lancashire-based commercial design company focused on making textiles designed by artists, and their name and designs were synonymous with the Swinging 60’s. Hull Traders’ lead designer was Shirley Craven who commissioned Althea to create nine designs between 1959 and 1964. The fabric Golden Harvest was put forward as one of the designs, becoming Althea’s best-selling design for Hull Traders and their best-selling design of all time. It continued to be manufactured well into the 1970s. In the 1960’s, McNish took on jobs for various other fashion and furniture companies including Heal’s and Guy Laroche. During this time, she also ensured that she retained her links with the West Indies, becoming a founding member of the Caribbean Artists Movement where she was an active member between 1966 and 1972. In 1966, McNish designed fabrics for the official wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Trinidad. Over the years, her paintings and drawings have been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (1978), the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2007) and, most recently, at Somerset House, London (2019) as part of the exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now. Examples of her textile design can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture in London, UK, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, and the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, NY. In 2018, McNish was named in Architectural Digest as one of ‘Five Female Designers Who Changed History’.

Emily Moore (b. 1983, London) is a visual artist based in London where she recently completed her MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2020. Moore has defined her own term ‘wildness’ in contemporary painting, which she says speaks both to her approach within her practice but also suggests the state of contemporary painting through the lens of art history and its current context within the immediate conversations surrounding painting. She was awarded the Valerie Beston Award in 2020 and will have her debut London solo show at Ordovas Gallery in 2021. Recent selected group exhibitions in London in 2021 and 2020 include: Social Fabric at Fold Gallery, An Infinity of Traces (curated by Ekow Eshun) at Lisson Gallery, Tomorrow: London at White Cube, Grads Now at Saatchi Gallery, Without a Painter at Fitzrovia Gallery, BeginAgain at Guts Gallery, Thought Threads at San Mei Gallery, and Snapshot at Hockney Gallery.

Anya Paintsil (b. 1993, Wrexham, Wales) is a Welsh Ghanaian artist based in Chester, UK, working primarily in textiles. She completed her BA in Fine Art at the Manchester School of Art, Manchester, UK in 2020. From rug hooking to embroidery, her assemblages evoke tactile tapestry on the one hand, and constitute semi-sculptural interventions on the other. Frequently using weaves, braids and other hair pieces (as well as her own hair), Paintsil laces debates around race and gender into the very fabric of her work, seeking to promote artistic practices historically devalued due to their associations with femininity and other marginalised groups. Playful and profound, flippant and forceful, her practice engages the language of fibres — of all kinds — with interrogations of materiality and political personhood. Paintsil’s work is largely autobiographical, with her body of work consisting of self-portraits and portraits of her family, to communicate her experiences growing up in North Wales, as well as frequently focusing on past trauma and mental health. Following her solo presentation at 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House, London, UK (2020), Paintsil’s first solo museum show was at the Glynn Vivian in Swansea, Wales in 2021, commemorating her receipt of The Wakelin Prize in 2020. Her work featured in Maker’s Eye, The Craft Council Gallery, London, UK (2021) and is in the permanent collections of The Whitworth, Manchester, UK; Glynn Vivian, Swansea, Wales; and Tullie House Museum, Carlisle, UK. She is represented by Ed Cross Fine Art in London.

Loretta Pettway Bennett (b. 1960, Boykin, AL, US) lives and works as a third-generation maker of quilts in Huntsville, Alabama after being born and raised in nearby Gee’s Bend (officially known as Boykin), a remote Black community of a few hundred inhabitants, many of whom descended from freed slaves from the Pettway plantation (including the artist herself). The geographic isolation of Gee’s Bend has fostered a unique environment for both the women’s art community and their chosen method of quilting. The experimental processes and compositional language of the quilts have been passed down through generations of Gee’s Bend residents, from grandmothers to mothers to daughters. This idea of inherited knowledge is a key part of Loretta Pettway Bennett’s work as her mother, Qunnie Pettway (1943-2010), and grandmother, Candis Mosely Pettway (1924-1997), were both notable quiltmakers from Gee’s Bend. Uninhibited by the conventions of fine or folk art and created out of necessity to insulate their beds on cold nights, the Gee’s Bend quilts constitute a crucial chapter in the history of American art, despite the fact that they were not originally conceived as artworks. The vivid and multi-layered textiles preserve numerous vocabularies and approaches to form and colour; the interplay between symbols and asymmetry refers to histories of African textiles while also evoking the formal qualities of Modernist painting. The work in this exhibition is a quilt titled Human’s Jeans (2019-20) that the artist made in memory of her late husband who passed away in 2018. After a two-year hiatus from quilting and after donating all of her husband’s clothes to charity, Pettway Bennett took up her needle once again, splicing together scraps of denim that her best friend gave the artist from her old denim skirts and other thrift store finds to make a robust and functional object featuring an asymmetrical abstract design that both pulsates with the vibrancy of the artist’s family’s lived experience and embeds the Gee’s Bend community’s darker history of indentured servitude into the very fabric of the work. In the artist’s own words, ‘My heart and my hands were finally ready to sew again’. During the Civil Rights Movement, the community gained national recognition when they established the Freedom Quilting Bee collaborative and distributed their quilts across the United States. The first major museum exhibition dedicated to the quilts of Gee’s Bend was presented in 2002 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. In 2006, the book Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt was launched at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; that same year, the U.S. Postal Service issued ten commemorative stamps featuring images of Gee’s Bend quilts. More recently, works were shown in History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, NY (2018). The quilts of Gee’s Bend are now in many prominent museum collections including Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. In the UK, the work of the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers was first shown in 2020 in the exhibition We Will Walk – Art and Resistance in the American South at the Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK and then in 2020-21 at the Alison Jacques, London, UK. She is represented by Alison Jacques in London.

Renee So (b. 1974, Hong Kong) is a London-based artist who grew up in Melbourne, Australia where she completed her BA in Fine Art at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1997. So’s work spans numerous traditional craft techniques, including ceramics, knitted and woven textiles and furniture, that refer specifically to representations of the female figure in prehistoric cultures. She bestows monumental grandeur and caricatural qualities to the figures in her works, which weave together a pattern of cross-cultural references. Her fictional personas borrow from ancient ritual masks and military and aristocratic portraiture. Renee So’s work has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, UK (2019-20) and Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2019). In 2020, she featured in Goldsmiths CCA’s exhibition Transparent Things in London, UK. Recent selected group exhibitions include: The London Open, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2018); In Search of Miss Ruthless, ParaSite, Hong Kong, China (2017); One Day, Something Happens: Paintings Of People (curated by Jennifer Higgie), The Arts Council Collection, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds, UK (2016); Busts, David Noonan, Renee So, Runa Islam, Hopkinson Museum, Auckland, New Zealand (2015); A Conspiracy of Detail, Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, UK (2013); Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK and The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia (2010-11). Her work is featured in the 2020 Thames & Hudson publication, 100 Sculptors of Tomorrow, the 2019 Phaidon publication Vitamin T: Threads and Textiles in Contemporary Art; and the 2017 Phaidon publication, Vitamin C: Clay + Ceramic in Contemporary Art. She is represented by Kate Macgarry in London.

Cristina Tufiño (b. 1982, San Juan, Puerto Rico) currently lives and works in Caguas, Puerto Rico after completing her MFA in Sculpture from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA in 2013, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 2012, her BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI (2007) and her BA in Art History from the University of Puerto Rico in 2003. Inspired by consumer goods, industrial debris and autobiographical narratives and objects, Tufiño addresses her practice as an archaeologist hoarder rummaging through a broad cultural system of references, with a particular nod to artifacts and museological aesthetics. Her multimedia works arise from a process of assembling, associating and translating images and ideas inspired by seemingly oppositional languages and spaces. Tufiño’s ceramic sculptures, installations, drawings, videos, prints and photographic compositions give a new meaning to post-studio practices and the use of social debris of our time. Her work was featured in solo exhibitions at Galeria Agustina Ferreyra, Mexico City, DF (2019) and Jane Hartook Gallery, New York, NY (2018). Recent selected group exhibitions include: El Momento del Yagrumo (curated by Marina Reyes), Contemporary Art Museum, San Juan, PR (2021); The Other Side of Now: Foresight in Contemporary Caribbean Art (curated by Maria Elena Ortiz), Perez Art Museum (PAMM), Miami, FL (2019); Millenium Mambo, Greenwich House Pottery, New York, NY (2018); Gran Turismo, Selena Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, NY (2018); Clay Today, The Hole, New York, NY (2018); The Axis of Evil, Ruberta, Los Angeles, CA (2017); and I GO, YOU GO, GOOD TO GO (curated by Rirkrit Tiravanija & Gavin Brown), Uncleborther, Hancock, NY (2017). She is represented by Galeria Agustina Ferreyra in San Juan, PR and Mexico City, DF.

Michaela Yearwood-Dan (b. 1994, London) is a British artist based in London who completed her BA in Fine Art at the University of Brighton, Brighton, UK in 2016. Working predominately with paint, collage and ceramics, Yearwood-Dan’s work reflects on subjectivity and individual identity as forms of self-determination. Whilst her work may be underpinned by an expansive and multivalent repertoire of cultural signifiers borrowing freely from Blackness, feminism, millennial lifestyle, healing rituals, flora and carnival culture, these reference points enable her to present and privilege the variance of her own individual experience. As such, her work refuses to be framed by narrow expectations of racial or gendered notions of collective identity and history. She defamiliarizes many of those reference points in her work, resisting the clichés and strictures of representation. In 2018, she was awarded a one-year Bloomberg New Contemporaries Studio Bursary in partnership with the Sarabande: The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation in London. In 2019, her work was featured in solo exhibitions at Tiwani Contemporary and the Sarabande: The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation in London, UK. Recent selected group exhibitions include: In Situ, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY (2021); Ancient Deities, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2020); NoTime Like the Present, Public Gallery, London, UK (2020); Clay TM, T.J. Boulting, London, UK (2020); The Green Fuse, Frestonian Gallery, London. UK (2020); 21st Century Women, Unit Gallery, London, UK (2018); Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Block 336, London, UK, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK and Baltic 39, Newcastle, UK (2017-18). She is represented by Tiwani Contemporary in London.

About the Curators

Enam Gbewonyo (please see her bio above under Artist Biographies)

Marcelle Joseph is an American independent curator based in London. In 2011, Joseph founded Marcelle Joseph Projects, a nomadic curatorial platform that has produced 39 exhibitions in the UK and the rest of Europe, featuring the work of over 200 international artists. Joseph’s expertise is in early career artists based in the UK, in particular, female-identifying and non-binary artists, and has an academic specialization in feminist art practice after completing an MA in Art History with Distinction from Birkbeck, University of London. In 2013, she executive edited Korean Art: The Power of Now (Thames & Hudson), a survey of the contemporary art scene in South Korea. Additionally, Joseph is the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Mimosa House, London; and the Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of Matt’s Gallery, London. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of Procreate Project, London, and the Selection Panel of PLOP Residency, London. She served on the jury of the 2017-2019 Max Mara Art Prize for Women, in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery and Collezione Maramotti, and the Mother Art Prize 2018. She also collects artworks by female-identifying artists under the collecting partnership, GIRLPOWER Collection, as well as more generally as part of the Marcelle Joseph Collection. Since 2020, Joseph has acted as Curatorial Consultant for Lychee One, a commercial gallery located in East London.

About Lychee One

Established in 2014 by artist Lian Zhang after her graduation from the Royal College of Art, Lychee One is the first contemporary art gallery in London owned by a person of mainland Chinese heritage. Since its opening seven years ago, Lychee One has successfully presented 45 exhibitions as well as many other events and pop- up shows. In 2018, Lychee One relocated to its current space in London Fields in East London where the gallery continues its programme for showing innovative international artists, both emerging and established, with strong theoretical and aesthetic bases.