Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Interview with Brianna Rose Brooks

Leer en Español

Brianna Rose Brooks, All Falls Down (2020). Oil on canvas 72 × 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Deli Gallery, New York, and Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles.

Brianna “Bri” Rose Brooks is enamored with the mundane. The Providence, Rhode Island, artist’s second-ever solo show, The way things go, debuted in November at Nino Mier Gallery (presented by Deli Gallery, New York) and showcased the uneventful, quotidian details of life. The works—oil paintings and colored pencil and graphite drawings—generally depict Black domesticity. Scenes include a neighborhood skunk puckered for a malodorous attack, a figure crouching down to play dominos, and figures in various states of repose. Canvas and paper are filled with cozy, interior colors: hazy browns, blues, pinks, and greens. The subjects appear lost in thought or in the midst of a household activity. The settings are impressionistic and elicit placid dreamscapes—evocative of the contemporary tradition of art that portrays interior life as a means for reflecting on exterior happenings.

Brooks’ work has always made a case for daydreaming and self-reflection, but this show arrived during a period when the whole world suddenly had time to reflect, whether it wanted to or not. The personal confinement stemming from the pandemic and the recent cultural confrontation with racism have ushered in jarring ruminations, both collective and individual. Brooks relies on these pensive moments as valuable opportunities for growth. Their steady relationship to daydreaming is what gave them the space to commit to being an artist in the first place, and it is in these revelatory instances that serious introspection feels worthwhile. The space of visionary daydreaming can be particularly encouraging now, with so many of our imagined futures placed on hold. Hopeful reveries are Brooks’ port in the storm. 

Over the winter holidays, I spoke with Brooks, who is currently pursuing an MFA in Painting from the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut, about the mundane musings that inspired The way things go.

Neyat Yohannes: A lot of the subjects in your work appear to be caught in a moment of reflection or stillness. How does idle time or introspection fit into your own life? 

Brianna Rose Brooks: I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially during the holidays. It really ends up being an introspective time. But I’ve always engaged art as a way to move through emotion and process my relationship to the world—and trauma, too. I think those moments of reflection in the work point to a way of working through emotions that we don’t have a language to articulate yet [since we’re still very much experiencing them]. 

NY: Daydreaming feels like a recurring theme in your work. I’m personally excited by it because it’s so rare to see imagery of Black people—particularly, Black femmes—in a state of ease. What inspired this subject matter? 

BRB: I’m a really spacey person. I’m always thinking about my daily life and my daydreaminess. [Mundane is a] word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Mundane moments, where nothing’s happening, [except for] feeling, maybe. Those moments seem important to put somewhere. I’ve always been interested in these private and candid spaces. Diary spaces. I think daydreams operate in the same way—sort of like a train of thought floating by.

NY: Oh! “Diary spaces”—that phrase perfectly describes the private time we spend with ourselves. How does the moment we’re in—our collective reckoning with racism—complicate the act of daydreaming? Or do you think daydreaming can work as an essential component within this movement?

BRB: It’s tough because objectively, this whole time period just sucks for a lot of people. But to try and find a silver lining, I feel—at least for myself—I’ve had a lot of downtime to reflect. Everything takes two to three business days now, so I’ve just slowed down, and it’s pushed me to be more introspective and to even deal with a lot of emotional material within my own life that I’ve just been way too distracted to interpret. I think the slowing down of things and, hopefully, this time people have to be at home offers that sort of introspection. Also, I’ve been hearing a lot about manifesting and how now is a really good time for it. I feel like daydreaming is a good place to start thinking about what you want and what you’re looking forward to. That’s a good tool to have right now.

NY: Do you think of daydreaming as a form of escapism or as a process that can help us imagine futures? Both? Is daydreaming political?

BRB: I think that Black people deserve some downtime, and I think that it’s valid to want to escape. Especially now, when there’s this focus on productivity, the downtime is so important.

NY: I think daydreaming is productive. We need that time to process stuff and take stock, but it can also inspire.

BRB: Exactly. I think if I hadn’t daydreamed so much about being an artist, I probably wouldn’t be [one] right now. I just feel like the idea of a dream means something different for different bodies. To open up and push more on what a Black dream can be—especially from a femme perspective—is really significant and something that I’ve just felt compelled to do a lot.

NY: What is it about the home that becomes political or rooted in expressing identity?

BRB: For me, it goes back to [the idea of] a daydream and how it’s a different thing for [everybody]. A daydream for one person is a reality for another. I can only think about it in an extremely personal way, because there’s just so much about us and our identities that are rooted in our experiences as children, in our living places, and in our families. It affects how you move about the world and I see [home] as a sacred space. 

NY: In the exhibition press release for The way things go, you include a poem in which you refer to a “them.” You write, “There is something the matter with them / Because they think / There must be something the matter with us.” Who is this them?

BRB: [The poem is] an adaptation of a poem by a psychologist named R.D. Laing. It’s from a book of his called Knots. He describes these knots, these psychological kinds of twists, and I was inspired by that in terms of working through emotional space, especially nuanced emotions that come up in mundane life. I basically just queered the text: as in, it started with a “he” pronoun because it was referring to a parent and son relationship, and I changed all of the “he’s” to “them.” I’m interested in a group dynamic, and I’m also interested in pushing on the pronouns and kind of opening up the narrative to more people who might find themselves in similar psychological knots. I’ve always been interested in language and wordplay. I identify as nonbinary, and I’ve been trying to introduce my pronouns to family recently and trying to navigate my school and some outdated thoughts about the gender binary. I wanted the boundaries between the collective and the self to be blurred a little. 

Brianna Rose Brooks, The 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th & 10th of July (2020). Colored pencil on paper, 50 × 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Deli Gallery, New York, and Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles.

NY: You’ve managed to put up an entire show while quarantining. How has working from home affected your creative process, specifically thinking about the idea of daydreaming while confined at home? 

BRB: My process became me reflecting on my home space and what was immediately around me: my new neighborhood, my feelings about it, and [random details like] the number of skunks in it. I would just become obsessed with super mundane parts of my daily life and that would be reflected in the work. I would try and unpack why I was obsessed with [this or] that, and how an image might point to some larger system in a microcosm sort of way. I’m not gonna lie, I’m really excited about the work but I’m more excited that I worked on a lot of it slowly at home. It took me back to being in high school or being a kid and being like, “Okay, these are the supplies I have, make it work. This is what we’re doing.” That’s how a lot of the work came about.

NY: The skunk in your piece, Gatekeepers, is hard to miss. 

BRB: I’ve generally been thinking about scent narratives in my work. Maybe this is a silly story, but my upstairs neighbors were smoking weed in the house and the downstairs neighbors were complaining about the smell. I don’t smoke weed in the house, but the upstairs neighbors said it wasn’t them and it got blamed on me. I thought, “This sucks,” because, of course, I’m the only Black person in the apartment complex. So I was like, “I bet if I got sprayed by a skunk, I could just smoke in the house,” and tell them that I got sprayed by a skunk and they wouldn’t [know] the difference. So I had this ridiculous daydream, really cartoony. I was watching Pepé Le Pew a lot. I was thinking about binaries too; like the binary relationship between the smell of roses and, like, a skunk’s ass. Also, experiences of microaggression are so mundane and small, but they play a role in establishing binaries between Black and white bodies. A scent narrative is a micro thing, but [it’s] part of the experience, part of the narrative. 

NY: You’ve mentioned language a few times, which also feeds into this idea of narrative. Where does your interest in linguistics stem from?

BRB: Growing up, my mom worked in early childcare, and so I’ve always been drawn to learning motifs. Those are such formative years. There are so many symbols in the world for young Black kids to look at that tell them so much about how the world feels about them, without explicitly saying so. I’ve also been screen-printing for a long time, and it, of course, has a history [associated with] propaganda and the spread of information. My ideas about language are all tied up in print media and propaganda. Also, as much time as I have spent in institutions adopting this art language—this theoretical language and these frameworks from which to see the world—none of those institutional languages actually do anything to help heal me. I’m interested in how language can [heal].

NY: Like semiotics on a personal level for healing.

BRB: Definitely!

NY: Your work contributes to a tradition of artists who depict their subjects in states of intimacy or domesticity to speak to larger conversations of personal or historical reflection. Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems, and Jordan Casteel come to mind. Who—either in the art world or outside of it—are some of your influences? 

BRB: When I was an undergrad, the Kerry James Marshall show Mastry was up [at MCA Chicago] and that show made me go, “Okay, painting. I’m going to paint what I want to paint,” and that was powerful. I’m definitely thinking about Deana Lawson, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lorna Simpson. A lot of photographers, like Roy DeCarava and Tod Papageorge, have been really influential. They’re the same photographers Carrie Mae Weems was referencing in her work. My largest painting influence would actually be Yoshitomo Nara, the Japanese artist. I think that has to do with the emotional content, and maybe that’s why the domestic is always showing up within my work—because that’s a space where people feel the comfort to be emotionally candid and just like really human. I think I’m interested in empathy, and I feel a lot of empathy when I look at Yoshitomo Nara’s work. That’s the beauty of it. [His work] makes me feel sad and happy at the same time. 

NY: How does being an artist play into your identity? Is it something separate or is it more so ingrained in how you move about the world?

BRB: I won’t say that I don’t think I can do anything else, but no matter what, art is something that I would do. As a healing practice, as a method of trying to find language where there is no language, and in trying to process memories—your imagination has to fill in the blanks. I think it’s just who I am. I’ve been able to create a visual language that allows me to communicate with the world in a way that I rarely feel like I have the chops to do anywhere else. I’m passionate about it and it brings me a lot of joy. And even just imagining that it can bring someone else joy—that’s meaningful. It really, truly helps me get through the day.

Brianna Rose Brooks (b. 1997) is a nonbinary Black artist originally from Providence, Rhode Island. Brooks lived in Chicago for four years where they received a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They are currently pursuing an MFA in Painting from the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut.

This interview was originally published in Carla issue 23.

Brianna Rose Brooks, The way things go (installation view) (2020). Image courtesy of the artist, Deli Gallery, New York, and Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles.

Brianna Rose Brooks, The way things go (installation view) (2020). Image courtesy of the artist, Deli Gallery, New York, and Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles.

Brianna Rose Brooks, Gatekeepers (2020). Oil on canvas, 46 × 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Deli Gallery, New York, and Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles.

Neyat Yohannes is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Criterion’s Current, Mubi Notebook, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Bitch, KQED Arts, cléo journal, Playboy, and Chicago Review of Books, among other publications. In a past life, she wrote tardy slips for late students.

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