Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with five of the 100 artists from the West Chelsea Festival of Art about their work, backgrounds, and interests. They shared with me the meaning of their work and how it is evolving and expanding within their artist’s practice.
Olive Hui | @PineappleO
I was born in Hong Kong and I’m based in Bushwick, Brooklyn. My medium is performance art, painting, music and film. My work is often connected to the theme of water, the symbol of flow, fluidity and abundance. Drawing has been a part of my life ever since I developed memory. I started piano at 6 years old. At 9, I remember gathering all of my friends, giving them roles, a basic scenario, and the freedom to improvise. I would call “Action!” and jump into the scenes. I think that is the beginning of performance art and it’s self expression.
I heard of the West Chelsea Festival of Art from my artist friend Eva and thought, “How cool! I must show my largest painting done in 2021, a time full of unknown and confusion and perform my signature bedtime ritual performance art piece!” There is magic in every New York City interaction. I am just excited to get in front of the public, share something personal, and see what resonates and with who. I want to fill their heads with questions. I would love to hear what comes up for them when they see my painting Timey Wimey II and watch my performers and I perform, Pineapple O Bedtime’s Ritual (involving folding a comforter and fitting the body on it — something I used to do as a child, alone, in the dark).
Last time, after an audience member witnessed the bedtime ritual, they got home and got rid of their couch on the same day to make space. It is wild to me how we inspire and influence one another by living and being our true selves.
Carol-Anne McFarlane | @camcfarlane
I am from Florida. My parents are from Jamaica. I’m interdisciplinary visual artist with a focus on screen printing and collage at this time. I am looking to continue to add narration into my practice and am exploring the ways in which that can happen. I learned that art was a catalyst for change when I was three. My art exposed me to new experiences very early in life and continues to do so. It continues to provide adventure, connection and elevation. I worked with Katie several times and got to spend time with her in Miami and NYC. She included me in Eminent Domain in 2018. I included her in the (DIS) OBEDIENT exhibition in 2020. On A trip to NYC during my residency last year, I met Scotto. Loved his energy! This opportunity came along and I wanted to be a part of the discourse and the experience. The work is about the socio-political and socio-economic psychological net that we are all caught in.
The work uses aspects of its allure and familiarity to attract. I pair my personal experiences with scholarship, pop culture, technology, and social criticism. The underlying scholarship is about the need for social criticism that can lead to positive social reconstruction that includes all of us. I want people to realize their internal power for self- definition and their ability to make space for others. As a collective we have what it takes to create a world that celebrates each of us, in our complexity and diversity.
Jarid Blue | @kingmallard
I am based in Brooklyn, New York City. I’m originally from South Florida. Photography is my primary medium, specializing in creating immersive installations using light projection and custom designs. The “Light Baths” series involves projecting light onto participants’ bodies. I’ve been immersed in photography and artistic pursuits for many years. The inception of my Light Bath project took shape around the end of 2015. Participating in the West Chelsea Festival of Art aligns with my commitment to challenging norms and fostering a more inclusive and accepting society through art. The festival offers a unique platform to showcase my photographic work and engage with a unique audience.
My goal is to empower individuals to forge new connections with their bodies. Beyond promoting body positivity, my art delves into the impact of societal expectations on our body image. I hope viewers leave with a sense of self-discovery, celebrating differences and embracing the beauty of individuality.
Sunshine Monie El | @lesnobodiesbusinessllc
I am from New Jersey. My medium is crystals, wire, resin and music. I begun music in childhood and I started about 10 years ago developing my wire wrapping and resins. The few times I’ve performed in this area I made great connections that was healing for me and the other person, so I try to keep that going. I’m in awe of all the other artists being present. Sharing space with them is most definitely very persuasive. Healing. Mantras to repeat to themselves in moments of need, desire, strengths, joy, weaknesses and pain.
Bri Frei | @iamfrei
I am from the Bronx, New York City. In my adolescence, I lived in Pennsylvania, for some years and I was happy, I got a taste of that beautiful nature all around me. I am a performance artist and I typically use movement and sound art in my performances. I have been performing for the last 8-10 years for fun and for hire. I definitely believe I began my artistry at a young age as I would write poetry and dance playfully exploring different avenues of expression. I always love the idea of an all femme line up. Also the idea of contributing to a fellow artist’s vision is something that will always peak my interest.
The idea of no limitations and staying true to yourself is the same thing. My own spiritual practice drives me and keeps me going. I hope that other folks can follow their path with ease. And whether it’s love, rage or indifference, find a healthy way to express yourself.
There’s so much prolific art in New York City’s art scene, not limited to art galleries and museums. There’s another world of open studios, private exhibitions, artists residencies, independent-led galleries and art events. If you want to see more of what is brewing in the Chelsea arts scene, check out WCFOA’s programs throughout November until December 1st at the West Chelsea Building at 526 West 26th St. New York City, NY. Check for the art and performance programming’s full schedule on West Chelsea Festival’s Website.