Artists Contemporary art Fairs USA

Something old at New Material Art Fair

The work on view tends to be more conventional than not, though a few of the artists manning the booths use non-traditional media

Leigh Ann Chambers's paintings on vinyl floor tiles at the New Material Art Fair

The title of the debut New Material Art Fair (until 9 December) might be a little misleading. A few of the 17 artists who have set up “booths” in the brightly painted rooms of the Chesterfield, Leon and Lily hotels on Collins Avenue in South Beach happen to work with non-traditional materials. The New York artist Zack Lobdell, for instance, creates metallic abstractions using salt and aluminium-infused paint, while the Brooklyn-based Paulapart builds sound sculptures from masonite and speaker parts.

But, on the whole, the media on view at New Material tends to be more conventional than not: charcoal drawing, photography, abstract painting and a few videos make up the bulk of the offerings.

“The name means different things to different people,” says the fair’s Chicago-based director, Christine Kirouac. She added that she and her partner, Michael Workman, who also runs the Verge Art Fair in New York and Miami, wanted to give the event a title that evoked a spirit of experimentation and offered artists a safe house for trying out their “new material.”

The result might be disappointing for visitors hoping to see riskier art than they would find at the city’s other satellite fairs. Yet with all but two of the artists personally manning their booths—some of whom even opted to participate in a special “not for sale” section—the endeavour succeeds in providing what Kirouac calls “a response fair” to market-driven enterprises like Art Basel in Miami Beach. “This isn’t a trade show,” she says. “It’s about the viewers and the artist’s voice.”

More from The Art Newspaper


13 Dec 13
15:34 CET


For those of us mentioned in the article (who's spaces were open when you were there) as using "Non traditional material" I don't remember reading that the show failed to impress, only that the title could be misleading. I appreciate the mention of my work and found the fair to be very successful, personally.

9 Dec 13
16:37 CET


Hi, I am sad to hear that this show failed to impress. My room was closed when you were there due to a miscommunication and I think that my media, reclaimed sex-store vaginas used in dioramas that create fantasy worlds, definitely counts as non-traditional material. Thank you for coming and reviewing the work you did get a chance to see though and for the nod to the non-commercial, artist-driven spirit of the fair. Thanks again Allison Kotzig

Submit a comment

All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.


Want to write a longer comment to this article? Email


Share this