Nine Columbia Artists to Show at the 2017 Whitney Biennial

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The Whitney Museum of American Art has announced the 63 artists that will be featured in this year’s Whitney Biennial, and the list includes nine School of the Arts affiliates. The Biennial is an exhibition that takes place every two years and aims to highlight the work of lesser known contemporary artists. This year’s Biennial will be the first held in the Whitney’s new location in Chelsea, which opened earlier this year.

Six graduate and one undergraduate alumni, and three faculty members from the School of the Arts Visual Arts department are among the group of artists whose work will be shown. The graduate alumi are: Dana Schutz '02; Noah Fischer '04; Tommy Hartung '06; Kerstin Brätsch '07; Debo Eilers '07;  Samara Golden '09, and undergraduate alum, Ajay Kurian '06, as well as a current member of the adjunct faculty and alum, Leigh Ledare '08; and Professors Aliza Nisenbaum and Jon Kessler.

The New York Times notes that the list of artists reflects anxiety about the recent presidential election. “After visiting artists’ studios, dealers and curators in 40 cities during the past year,” the Times reports, “the [B]iennial’s curators—Christopher Y. Lew, an associate curator at the Whitney, and Mia Locks, an independent curator—were struck by themes that resonated with the contentious election: personal identity, social struggle, connection to place.”

The list of artists is also notable for its inclusivity. As the Times reports, “There are nearly as many women as men; a large delegation from California; and several from outside the continental United States.” The artists also work in a range of media, including sculpture and video.

Included in the Times’s write-up are miniature profiles of some the artists, including Columbia faculty member Nisenbaum, whose work focuses on immigrant life. At the exhibition she’ll “show new large-scale paintings, including one of a Latino runner’s club and another of the women’s cabinet to the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs,” according to the Times. Nisenbaum was part of a 2015 fellowship program at the Office of Immigrant Affairs that focused on civic engagement by immigrant women.

The Whitney Biennial will open on March 17, 2017 and run to the middle of June, according to the museum website.

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