NYFA and Technology Gap Announce NYFA NFT Award Recipients and Exhibition

NYFA and Technology Gap Announce NYFA NFT Award Recipients and Exhibition
Image Detail: Dempsey Rice, "Night Swim," animated video, 2017

“Demystifying NFTs: The Award Exhibition” will feature work by 30 artists who are new to NFTs, and will be exhibited in the Voxels metaverse and in Manhattan this December.

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), in partnership with artist and technologist Laura Ó Reilly, is pleased to present Demystifying NFTs: The Award Exhibition, on view from December 15-31, 2022 in the Voxels metaverse at Technology Gap’s community center and exhibition space BRIDGE++ and at ChaShaMa’s 266 W. 37 Street presentation space in Manhattan. The exhibition, which will be live streaming in the metaverse 24/7, will be celebrated in the Voxels metaverse on Thursday, December 15 from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST. There is no crypto wallet or account creation needed to view the metaverse exhibition; the web browser-based experience is accessible to all with an internet connection, and no VR headset is required.

The 30 exhibiting artists are recipients of the NYFA NFT Award, which is part of Demystifying NFTs, a workshop series and award program where artists, performers, writers, and cultural workers are given the tools and knowledge to both understand and create NFTs. The program, which was designed for beginners in the crypto space and anyone curious about minting NFTs, aims to expand the conversation around NFTs in a meaningful way while opening up new revenue possibilities for artists of all disciplines. 

New York City-based artists who completed Demystifying NFTs: Workshops One and Two were invited to apply for the award, which distributes $500 unrestricted cash awards in addition to covering minting fees and technical support for winners to create and exhibit an NFT of their own work. The 30 participants were selected by a panel that included contemporary artist/designer Govales; Former Vice President, Brand Creative of VH1/Viacom and independent creative director Amanda Havey; interdisciplinary artist/journalist Alex Brook Lynn; and prolific art writer Kurt McVey

Video still of two women with blonde hair arms out going into an embrace
Image Detail: Abigail Child, “Two Women Embracing from “BLONDE FUR,” 2004-06, video

Of the participating artists, 57% identify as being 45 years of age or older, 53% identify as women, 47% identify as LGBTQ, and 40% identify as BIPOC, all critical to the program’s mission of making NFTs and the Web3 space more accessible, inclusive, and diverse. The artists represent creative disciplines including theater/performance, digital/electronic arts, music/sound, dance, visual arts, and interdisciplinary work. The public art installation and metaverse exhibition experience is designed and curated by Ó Reilly. 

Demystifying NFTs: The Award Exhibition will feature works including:

  • Blonde Fur, a video work by Abigail Child, an artist who has been at the forefront of experimental media and writing since the 1980s and an acknowledged pioneer in montage. 
  • Decentralize History: Recipes for Timelessness, an acrylic on canvas work that will be minted as an unlockable NFT image and ritual/performance by multidisciplinary artist Bonita Oliver (AKA French Leave). Oliver’s work integrates sound, movement, spoken word, film, and visual art and aims to offer new narratives about Black experiences in the United States.
  • Goddesses visit the Material World by video artist, filmmaker, and cable TV pioneer Courtney Harmel, whose work features archival videos of downtown New York in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
  • Goodbye Alice, a film score from Sci-Fi short Oblivio that Chinese artist/composer Haibei Wang wrote in 2020. Wang’s compositions incorporate elements of classical orchestral music, electronic music, jazz music, and Eastern folk influences. 
  • Fragmentación, a continuous compilation of 10 video pieces by Ecuadorian interdisciplinary artist Doménica García, featuring two women who embark on a journey through their sexuality in a magical realist Mexico city.
  • Night Swim, an animated video by filmmaker Dempsey Rice that expands Rice’s current documentary “The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks” beyond the format of a traditional film into the NFT space. 

Exhibiting Artists: Vanessa Albury, Arantxa Araujo, Harper Bella, Sean Capone, Abigail Child, Adelfino Corino, Gladstone Deluxe, Doménica García, Dev Harlan, Courtney Harmel, Robin Kang, French Leave (Bonita Oliver), Luca Lee, Nyasha Madamombe, Mai, Joey Mai, Meryl Meisler, Vinh Mai Nguyễn, Laura Nova, Dempsey Rice, Geneva Lee Robles, Barbara Rosenthal, Rudolph Shaw, Erica Shires, Debra Swack, Rica Takashima, Marya Triandafellos, Haibei Wang, Jill Waterman, and Roger White.

“What is remarkable about the NYFA NFT Award and the resulting Demystifying NFTs exhibition is how it is giving new life to works by artists from a range of disciplines, some of whom are major contributors to the new media and digital art disciplines,” said Michael Royce, Executive Director of NYFA. “It underscores the desire for artists to learn about and participate in the NFT and Web3 space, and to gain new insights into how to share and sell their work,” he added.

Detail of a painting of Sojourner Truth with the word "Decentralized" written backwards over her eyes
Image Detail: Bonita Oliver (AKA French Leave), “Decentralize History: Recipes for Timelessness,” acrylic on canvas minted as unlockable NFT image and ritual/performance, 2022

The first live online Demystifying NFTs workshop took place in June 2022; fall workshops are still currently being offered, with a learn at your own pace option available through December 31, 2022. Currently more than 1,000 individuals have completed the two-part workshop, which is made free to cultural workers and artists working across disciplines through the generous support of Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Ó Reilly, an alumna of The New Museum’s creative tech incubator NEW INC, developed and leads the program.

“As a collective of artists across all mediums, we are creating what comes next, together. The Demystifying NFTs program was designed to empower artists to remember that they have a voice in how new technologies are developed and implemented. Like democracy, Web3 requires education and participation to truly deliver on the vision of self-sovereignty, open-source collaboration, and decentralized horizontal power structures,” said Laura Ó Reilly. “This cohort of 30 artists is exploring NFTs as a new distribution model for their work, and the bizarre and exciting process of providing ‘tangible’ attributes to intangible assets through the creation of digital scarcity,” she added.

Detail of a video still of a woman wearing white, legs slightly open with a papaya in between
Image Detail: Doménica García, “Fragmentación,” video, 2018

The program is an expansion of a NYFA online learning initiative that launched in 2019, and is presented by NYFA in partnership with Ó Reilly’s Technology Gap initiative. It builds on the nonprofit service organization’s more than 50-year history of providing individual artists and arts professionals with the tools and resources they need to define their own career success.

Demystifying NFTs is a joint program between NYFA Learning, NYFA Grants, and Laura Ó Reilly’s Technology Gap initiative. NYFA Learning provides artists, creators, students, and arts administrators with tools, strategies, and advice for building sustainable careers. Each year, NYFA Grants provides over $4 million in cash grants to individuals pursuing artistic excellence in all forms.

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Amy Aronoff
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