PRIZM Art Fair, now in it’s fifth edition, is dedicated to showing the work of Contemporary African Diaspora artists. So, it was my pleasure to make PRIZM‘s opening my first stop this week. My buddy, Tayina who has been volunteering at the fair, raved about the work on view and she’s not wrong – many of PRIZM‘s offerings are diamonds in a rough environment.
Located on the top two floors of the Mana Building on at 145 E Flagler Street and of the path beaten to the other fairs, PRIZM is installed in various store fronts, some large, some small, an installation format that’s popular with developers who seek to revitalize (or gentrify?) neglected pockets in urban areas. For a young, niche fair like PRIZM, such space is low-cost or free and can be both a blessing and a curse; there’s lots of space, but it isn’t designed to show art in the manner to which most people are accustom: uniformly hung, evenly lit, with enough neutral intentional space around objects to create or reject associations with pieces in the same vicinity. For the intrepid art seeker, however, PRIZM Founding Director Mikhaile Solomon has worked diligently to curate works that sometimes coexists well in the exhibition space and that, more importantly, connect with each other.
Two installations work very well in the space, the William Cordovo-curated Chicago 9 on the second floor of PRIZM and, in particular, the Didier William and Nestor Armando Gil‘s collaboration Swarm. on the first floor. Swarm. is evocative of the history of South Florida’s diverse immigrant communities from the huge and heavy (I imagine) rubber inner tube sculptures to the lit seven day candles. The space complements the utilitarian materials featured in the prints and used to make some of the work, the pragmatics of everyday ritual, and the weirdness of William’s eye-covered figures.
In my own art practice, I think a lot about the that way I pull from various texts, personal and cultural experiences, and artistic lineages to create with my work as a part of broader Black Diaspora strategies to exist in Western and Westernized contexts. Moving through PRIZM, I was drawn to pieces that felt like mosaics in the way that color, line, material, texture, patterns, and histories are juxtaposed, collaged, sculpted, or quilted.
Nate Lewis‘s work caught my eye. While he previously lived in my old stomping ground, Washington, D.C., he’s currently based in New York City for an artist residency. Lewis and I talked briefly about the series where he ‘sculpts’ different patterns and textures on a single sheet of heavy white paper that features fragments of his own photographs. I want to learn more about this work, so he and I will meet up in the next few days while Lewis is in town to talk at length. Keep an eye out for that profile.
Unlike the other fairs, PRIZM, is open for two weeks until December 17 and hosts activities throughout the year. Do not pass up the opportunity to check out this showcase of Black Diaspora art.
Dominique Hunter, A Quiet Contemplation and And the Absence of Both (from the Cusp series), 2017
Next up: Pinta