'Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists’ opens this fall at SMoCA

Posted 6/8/21

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents works by emerging Phoenix-based artists in a group show entitled, “Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists.”

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'Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists’ opens this fall at SMoCA


Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents works by emerging Phoenix-based artists in a group show entitled, “Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists.”

On view Sept. 11, 2021 – Jan. 23, 2022 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 E. Second St., the 11 artists featured in this exhibition are younger than, or near, the age of 30, according to a press release.

Artists include Mia B. Adams, Merryn Omotayo Alaka, Vincent Chung, Steffi Faircloth, Sam Frésquez, Estephania González, Lena Klett, Cydnei Mallory, Brianna Noble, Lily Reeves and Papay Solomon.

This will be the first museum exhibition for many of the artists, although several participated in past or current juried Arizona Biennial, the release said.

“The current moment is marked by lots of change in the world and that is a space where contemporary art museums can thrive. Providing a platform for young local artists who are responding to the evolving times became an important goal for SMoCA and we are grateful to have such a talented pool of artists in the valley,” said Jennifer McCabe, SMoCA director and chief curator, in a prepared statement.

Exhibition curator, Lauren O’Connell stated how she wanted to highlight this group of artists mainly under 30 years old who were “making incredibly powerful work" since moving back to Arizona in 2017 and getting reacquainted with the art community as she met more artists who were ASU graduates.

“The artists selected show a high level of criticality and professionalism, and, once asked to participate, all jumped at the chance to make new work for the exhibition. It has been a privilege to work with these brilliant emerging artists who have promising futures ahead of them,” said Ms. McCabe in a prepared statement.

“It means so much to be recognized by my community and to be seen amongst peers that I admire. It feels like a huge supportive leap for my career,” said artist Brianna Noble, whose paintings will be on view this fall and her first time exhibiting in a museum. “I can’t wait for the opportunities that may come from it.”

The new works created for “Forever Becoming,” the release said illustrate the “resilience and determination of a new generation of artists who expose the complexities of becoming within the rapidly evolving ethos of today,” addressing topics including marginalized communities, social justice, environmental degradation, exploration of sexuality and reckoning with personal narratives.

Several of the works focus on healing the mind and body from past traumas and remediation of environmental degradation from human intervention, noted the release.

“In my new body of work, I use braided hair and pony beads as a symbol of identity and vulnerability. The acts of both hair braiding and beading are laborious, meditative and repetitive; a process that serves to be transformative in nature. I view this new work as a reinterpretation of the historical significance of African hair braiding and beading, and to serve as a metaphor for the passage of time, the phases of grief, and an extension of my body.

This exhibition has provided me a platform to start a conversation surrounding identity, vulnerability and visibility; and I am grateful to be given such a space to do so. I am so honored to be working with SMoCA and Lauren and to have their support and encouragement along this journey,” said Merryn Alaka, artist.

This group of artists intersect in several ways: each artist graduated with a bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of science or master of fine arts from Arizona State University between 2016 and 2019; also, several of the artists collaborate with each other on artwork.

Despite these crosscurrents, the diverse group of artists have distinct styles that allow the viewer to see a wide scope of contemporary art, including figurative painting, abstract drawing, sculpture, video and installation and more.

“Growing up in Phoenix, it always felt like this was a place where things were constantly in a state of flux, for better or worse. I still think that Phoenix is a place of many changes, and while this can be a destabilizing force many times, I also think that it creates a lot of possibility as well.

I see this positive force especially in my peers here, and I am honored to be included in this exhibition alongside so many artists who I truly admire for, among many things, their intelligence, skill, vision and drive,” said Lena Klett, artist, in a prepared statement.

While participating artists currently live and worke in Phoenix, not all are originally from the Valley, according to the release.

Estephania González moved to Arizona from the mid-west to locate herself near the U.S. Mexico border. Artists who come from different places have the ability to share new perspectives with audiences in the Phoenix-metro area.

Artist Papay Solomon’s work is influenced by his home country of Liberia and West African diaspora. Steffi Faircloth is similarly influenced by her hometown of Nogales, added the release.

Information: SMoCA.org. Email: SMoCA@ScottsdaleArts.org. Call: 480-874-4666.