Mission shares five rising stars of today’s art world that are making waves in the industry with their visually exciting and socially conscious work.
By Mary Stringham.
The rising stars of today’s art world are making waves in the industry with their visually exciting and socially conscious work. The next generation of artists is tackling heavy subjects, like taboos in Latin culture to the queer POC experience, through various mediums and perspectives. Below, we have gathered a selection of five young artists, all 25 or under, to keep on your radar.
Los Angeles-based Panteha Abareshi (20) is a multidisciplinary artist whose subject matter is rooted in her experience with chronic illness. As someone diagnosed with sickle cell zero beta thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder that causes debilitating pain, her daily life informs her art.
Abareshi’s mediums include video, illustration, and performance work that explores the nuances of disability and chronic illness. In her artist statement, she describes the disassociations and complex relationship between her mind and body—a body that operates almost autonomously from her wants and desires: “My abstracted imaging of my own body is heavily influenced by being so regularly in the hospital, as I am constantly experiencing a very unique form of objectification in which my body is truly treated as a pound of flesh, the vitals that it produces, and the malfunctions it abounds in.” This abstraction is reflected in her video and performance work NOTBETTERYET, where voice recordings and images of cells overlay flashing images of her contorted body in a hospital setting. Her most recent subject matter has been prosthetics and the mechanization of the body.
Azzah Sultan (24) was born in Abu Dhabi and is a Malaysian native who grew up around the world in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Finland, and Bahrain. Since immigrating to the United States in 2013 to attend school and work on her art, Sultan has experienced widespread Islamophobia. As a result, Sultan’s work strives to transcend the fallacy that Muslim women like herself are oppressed by their religion while exploring tensions between American and Muslim identity.
A mixed media, video, and installation artist, the creative utilizes her artistic practice to explore her identity through both culture and immigration. Her artist statement says, “I use my experiences of being a brown Muslim woman to highlight stereotypes ingrained within my community through installation strategies. My body of work debunks cultural myths created by society and explores stigmas related to my identity.” With a BFA from Parsons and an MFA from Washington State University, Sultan is currently exploring themes of family lineage, practices, and traditional garments. Due to COVID-19, her MFA thesis show was canceled, so the young creative hosted a virtual reception instead, which you can find on her website.
Melipat, part of the Anak Dara series, 2020
Dominican-born and NYC-based artist Mónica Hernández (24) creates bold large-scale paintings that address different taboos in Latin communities. Her work often revolves around topics such as menstruation, body hair, and sex. Hernandez typically depicts nude bodies, especially women, in intimate settings that range from taking a bath to holding a partner close. Her paintings work to add layer upon layer of intimacy for the viewer to take in and absorb.
A graduated from Hunter College with a BFA in 2017, Hernández work has been featured in numerous shows and she has already held her solo exhibition, Your Knotted Hair, Your Tangled Thoughts Too, at prominent New York City gallery Ed. Varie.
New York-based Gabriella Grimes (24), aka ggggrimes, is a black queer freelance artist and illustrator with a large online following. A graduate of Hunter College with a bachelor’s degree in music, Grimes is known for producing vibrant visual art featuring queer POC.
Their mediums typically consist of watercolors, acrylics, and digital media, resulting in pieces often based around the queer experience. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Grimes hopes their work will show young queer people that their experiences are beautiful, multidimensional, and valid. They also use their illustrations to challenge the gender binary and break down perceptions of race, gender, and sexuality. To do that, the illustrator incorporates poppy visuals and vibrant hues to depict a diverse array of subjects.
Gabrielle (Gabee) Oke (25) is a London-based portrait artist and actor. After studying philosophy at Warwick University and a stint working at an advertising agency, the painter decided to pivot her career and commit to the arts. Her portraiture typically includes bright and bold intimate depictions of her subjects.
In art classes growing up, Oke never saw people of color represented in the foreground of pieces. Today, she creates portraits to represent a diverse community, particularly with regards to portraiture, a medium with close ties to the white European aristocracy. As such, she subverts these traditions and creates space for what she calls “a different type of royalty.” Much of her work also depicts famous black figures, from boxer and activist Muhammad Ali to rapper Tupac Shakur. Through these paintings, Oke explores the notions of personal and collective histories.