Spirituality, astrology and the occult are in the ascendant in the art world, and this year, at the Nada (New Art Dealers Alliance) Miami fair, works channeling the divine feminine and non-binary energies are in abundance. Ari Myers, the founder of The Valley gallery in Taos, New Mexico, credits the migration of people from urban to rural spaces over the course of the pandemic as a contributing factor in a renewed focus on nature and, by proxy, more esoteric matters. “I am seeing a lot more Medieval and mystical symbolism in art,” she says.
At Nada, Myers is showing ceramic works by Amelia Lockwood (priced between $2,300 and $3,700), which the Los Angeles-based artist describes as “power objects” that act as receptacles for energies. During the fair’s opening yesterday, buyers of her work included Beth Rudin DeWoody, the New York and West Palm Beach collector, and Quang Bao, the owner of New York’s 1969 Gallery. Also on the booth are several new gouache and ink paintings by the tattoo-turned-fine artist Aron John Dubois (prices range from $2,300 to $4,600), which draw on his deep interest in Jungian psychology, and the balance of masculine and feminine energies. “Androgyny is a key theme,” Myers notes.
Idols and goddesses
A pregnant Beyoncé recast as Botticelli’s Venus graces an enormous monochrome tapestry by the German artist Margaret Eicher at Galerie Michael Janssen (prices for her textile works range from $40,000 to $70,000). “I like to transfer the iconography of art history onto contemporary idols and goddesses—celebrities and other public figures,” Eicher says. Although the artist does not subscribe to “political ideologies such as feminism”, much of her work centres on the patriarchal structures that have long dominated organised religion, portraying women as either Madonna (the mother) or Venus (the lover).
Non-conforming spiritual energies rather than human colonial binaries suffuse the paintings of Tennessee artist Amber Ahmad, on show with the artist-run TONE Gallery from Memphis. Scorpion and Frog (2021; priced at $10,000 and sold before the fair’s opening) takes its cue from the eponymous folk tale and features alchemical imagery of the Rebis, or divine hermaphrodite.
Meanwhile, at the Vancouver-based Wil Aballe Art Projects, the Ethiopian-Canadian artist Betty Mulat’s photographs (prices range from $3800 to $5000) offer “a contemporary take on female empowerment”, Aballe says. Mulat, who is also a DJ, co-founded NuZi Collective, a Vancouver-based music collective that provides a safe space for women of colour and trans people to party.
Collectively titled Caught Out There: Ragga to Riches, Mulat’s works at Nada evoke the glossy fashion and beauty images found in magazines such as Essence and Jet, in which she “saw Black people and culture represented and celebrated”, Aballe says. Mulat pays homage to them with over-the-top 1990s styling, “to engage notions of camp and narratives around Blackness, class, gender, expressions of pleasure, power, and beauty.”