At Independent Art Fair, Young Artists Explore Heritage, Identity and Healing

Annabel Keenan, CULTURED MAGAZINE , May 7, 2022

Heritage and Identity


This year, many exhibitors chose to bring works by young and emerging artists exploring personal and collective heritage and identity, in both figural and abstract forms. In Nicola Vassell’s booth, three large, colorful paintings by self-taught artist Uman lent an intoxicating energy. Born in Somalia, Uman grew up in Kenya and Denmark before moving to New York. With rich, vibrant colors and compositions that toe the line of figuration and abstraction, her works explore this varied cultural heritage, as well as gender fluidity and spirituality.


Nearby, moniquemeloche presents a solo booth of portraits of Black figures by Harlem-based artist David Shrobe. Pairing a range of rich textiles, paint and ink with mixed elements like wood, photographic prints and gemstones, Shrobe creates layered, textured works that rethink the history of classical portraiture as a tool to represent the elite. He draws inspiration from his family and neighborhood in Harlem, as well as references to art history to portray Black archetypes absent from portraiture.

Reframing traditional systems and American life is Devin N. Morris, whose mixed media paintings are on view in Deli Gallery’s booth. Through dream-like scenes in assemblaged frames, Morris explores themes of innocence, acts of kindness and racial and sexual identity, in particular male interactions and the experience of being both Black and queer.


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