New York Artists Equity, in partnership with 1000Museums, is pleased to launch the inaugural exhibition for our NYAE Print Shop, Equivalents. The show, curated and organized by NYAE Members John Cox and Alicia Philley, utilizes the unique facets of Equity Gallery’s online West WING Project Space to exhibit artworks tailored to be shown in a virtual format. Instead of viewing digital galleries as just an intermediary space designed to temporarily sustain art organizations during lockdown, the artists within Equivalents recognize this expansive new virtual domain as an ideal channel to explore the fundamentally transformative nature of sharing art online.
Leading up to 2020, the work of the five artists featured in this exhibition was firmly rooted in the physical experience of painting as objects. Then the COVID-19 pandemic forcibly changed the way we experience art. While restrictions on gathering in person may be easing, the online exhibition biome developed by museums and galleries during the past year continues to grow and evolve as its own environment.
Like many artists, the participating painters recognized that posting images of their physical work was not an authentic replacement for in-person viewing. Online, the art was consumed and digitally transformed by viewers who magnified, deconstructed, rearranged, and decontextualized it. This experience, while at times unsettling, was also an education in the newly-forming language of the digital gallery. The artworks on display in this online exhibition were born out of the effort to translate creative practices from physical to digital. Each artist embraces the drastically distorted viewing experience of the screen and its inevitable color distortions and size restrictions.
Equivalents highlights the reality that the online gallery dwells in a space most often associated with commerce. The artworks were created digitally, specifically to exist on the West WING Online Project Space's "walls." Yet, viewers can engage with the show as they would any other online space, picking favorites and clicking to customize so an object—in this case an archival art print—is shipped to their homes. By giving the viewer the opportunity to own a copy of these works, it is revealed how fundamentally the act of viewing and owning art has been altered by the internet. The border between the intangible and physical is further blurred by the act of reconstituting and possessing a duplicate of the works while the “original” will exist indefinitely online.
Visually, each artwork in the show also similarly skirts the line between incorporeality and tactility. This ambiguity can be seen in the intermingling, overlapping reservoirs of vibrant colors of Stephen Maine, the dizzying, undulating patterns of John Cox, John Pomera’s fraying images interlaced with intrusive black bars, the soft, flowing petal-like structures in the works of Amy Vensel, and Alicia Philley’s explosive, highly kinetic ribbons of color. The implication of painterly material is imbued within each of the digital works while still fully embracing their digital nature.
NYAE Online West WING Project Space — Online Exclusive