As curators of our own apartments and Instagram feeds, we’re always looking for new artists to follow and appreciate! Whether it’s a simple social media follow, watching an interview, visiting an exhibition, or even buying a new print to hang in your living room, it’s thrilling to discover a new artist whose work inspires you.
The following list is jam-packed with amazing artists to keep an eye on in 2022 and beyond, and many of them are featured in exhibitions going on right now in Chicago!
Qais Assali is a multidisciplinary artist and designer from Palestine. His work deals with themes of identity, belonging, and displacement, as well as the trauma and loss experienced by Palestinian people on a daily basis. Assali is based between Palestine and the US, and is currently a teaching artist at Vanderbilt University. He often deals with space and distance in his pieces, often working with the strange connection between his home country and the town of New Palestine, Indiana, drawing connections and lines of convergence between the two wildly different places.
Qais Assali currently has a piece exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center, which is viewable for free.
A multidisciplinary artist, Allana Clarke is based in Detroit. Her work is generally concentrated in the mediums of video, sculpture, painting, and performance, and often focuses on the way blackness is objectified and signified in American culture and politics. Clarke’s most recent series of work are sculptures shaped from hair bonding glue, the material which is used to affix hair extensions to the scalp. She pours hair bonding glue onto panels and manipulates it with the force of her entire body, with the action and force symbolizing her complicated relationship with the pain and shame that surrounded childhood hair rituals. She also incorporates text into many of her pieces, weaving poetry into her visual practice. Clarke is currently a professor at Wayne State University.
Allana Clarke was just featured in the 2021 Miami Beach Art Basel Exhibition. You can still view some of her sculptures and featured pieces in Art Basel’s virtual viewing rooms.
Silvia López Chavez is a muralist and painter, whose bright, enchanting work inspires and connects anyone who passes by one of her projects. Based in Boston, Chavez has a Dominican-American background. She’s planned and executed murals all over the country and internationally, working with businesses, cities, and activists to realize these large-scale works. Chavez’s art often features motifs of flowers, geometric patterns, and scenes of community joy and solidarity. She also leads art workshops and classes.
Check out Silvia López Chavez’s website to find the closest mural to you! Hopefully you’ll get to see one of her stunning murals for yourself.
Matthew Angelo Harrison is an installation and sculpture artist based in Detroit. His sculptures include found objects and industrial materials that create contemporary assemblages examining technology and black identity in America. Harrison worked for Ford Motor Company in Detroit after earning his BFA, where he modelled clay for automobile prototypes. This background is evident in many pieces of his work that reference deindustrialization, the collapse of organized labor, and large-scale manufacturing. Another important theme in Harrison’s art is the intersection and tension points between black identity and African identity. In many pieces, traditional African masks and sculptures are suspended in resin, protruding out from the resin casing in certain areas. Harrison’s sculptures explore the cultural conversation and distance between black Americans and black Africans.
Matthew Angelo Harrison was just featured in the 2021 Miami Beach Art Basel Exhibition. You can still view some of his paintings and featured pieces in Art Basel’s virtual viewing rooms.
Ester Hernandez is a renowned visual artist who works in screen printing and painting. As a San Joaquin Valley native and daughter of Mexican farm workers, Hernandez became politically active and involved with the Chicano and Farm Workers Movement as a young teenager. Her work usually represents Latina and Native women as politically powerful feminist icons. She’s been exhibited throughout the US and internationally over the course of her career.
Hernandez often uses her artwork to raise money for political causes or to inspire activism in her community! Ester Hernandez is currently exhibiting her work at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, alongside Shiza Saldamando. You can see the show for free!
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