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Curated by Sophia Ma
Saturday, January 6 - Sunday, February 4, 2024
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 6, 2024, 4:00-6:00pm

Closing Reception: Sunday, February 4, 2024, 3:00-6:00pm,
Artist and Curator Discussion, 3:00pm
Poetry reading from Alex Cuff and  Ana Božičević at 5:00pm

Digital college by Chan and Derman

Essex Flowers is proud to present Jamie Chan and Sonya Derman in Indoor Interference, a two-artist exhibition curated by Sophia Ma. Play is at the center of their shared sensibilities for painting and image-making, with subjects like out-of-context baseball players, Renaissance figures, and visualized thoughts to explore the mind and externalize the internal. Using surprising colors, they destabilize the viewing experience, while inviting viewers to stay curious. They introduce components that challenge stylistic norms, such as cutting off legs at the ankles in Chan’s Cursorily Improvized Men (2023). Both paintmakers, Chan uses both earthen and synthetic paints, while Derman integrates homemade organic inks. Without the completed image in mind when they start, the artists observe what the drying process would yield and allow their work to evolve. In Derman’s Purple Birthday (2020), the testing page for her inks became a ground for noticing one’s own thoughts while working. By moving intuitively in their creative processes, the artists arrive at something expansive and open for what painting is to them.

Through gestures of play, Chan and Derman evoke dream-like spaces reminiscent of surrealism. They mold and shape their work by layering varied materials and techniques and adding elements such as text and recognizable Western iconography. As symbols of Americana and athleticism, the baseball players in Chan’s work are stripped of their competitive context, which gives rise to the discussion of their interiority and the inherent structure within which they belong. Based on the early photographs on baseball cards in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection that could not capture moving bodies, the funny poses and expressions made them look like bad players. With no apparent connection to the sport, Chan nevertheless borrows from the iconic tradition, generating an energy borne of awkwardness to perform her version of athleticism.

Derman draws her subjects from daily life as flavored by the pervasive environs of social media vernacular. Integrating poetic prose amidst the fawning language in Instagram posts she captures the essence of their soundbite messages to the audience. Using quilting and embroidery in one body of work, she slows the thinking and making process to solidify ephemeral moments. Rendering her lounging cat and politicians beside interior monologues, Derman makes a patchwork of our modern modes of communication through imagery and language. Her haptic expressions of fleeting thoughts, apologies, and questions foreground flexibility and unknowing.

Indoor Interference illustrates the range and interconnectedness of Chan and Derman’s practices by presenting multiple series of their works. To feature these groupings, each artist has their own space for the works to dialog among themselves–Chan in the front room and Derman in the backroom. On the shared wall that divides the gallery into two rooms, works by both artists are included to invite questions and connections, and to extend the field of play to the curation. By creating stickers for the gallery window, the artists embrace a point of collaboration and extend painting into a new realm of exchange, dialoguing with various communities this exhibition touches, from friends and family to artists, art educators, and the wider art sphere, to the location and its residents. By sharing the unstable tensions they observed in society, the artists offer a more speculative space for all to discover and investigate. Chan and Derman seek the elusive responses to the open-ended questions of what is secure and certain for artists–in their personhood, in their choices, and in their work.

Jamie Chan (b. 1984, Pittsburgh, PA) is an artist based in Brooklyn. Most recently her paintings have been shown at Dunes.fyi, Portland, ME; Latitude, NYC; Tif Sigfrids, NYC; and Essex Flowers, NYC, where Chan has also curated shows and other programming. She received her BFA from UCLA in 2006 and her MFA in painting from Bard in 2013. https://jamiechan.nyc/

Sonya Derman (b. 1984, New York, NY) is an artist based in Brooklyn. Her work has recently been exhibited at Sunview Luncheonette, Spring Break Art Fair, and Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery at St. John’s University. From 2015-2018, she co-curated 2MF, a nomadic series of artist-run events at spaces including Wendy’s Subway and Artists Space, and a corresponding podcast with Clocktower Radio at Pioneer Works. She received an MA from the Royal College of Art in 2012 and a BA in Studio Art from Carleton College in 2006. https://sonyaderman.com/

Sophia Ma (b. 1984, Guangzhou, China) is an independent curator and writer based in Brooklyn. Ma curated exhibitions at Chiquita Room, Think!Chinatown, FiveMyles, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery at St. John’s University, Walter’s at Walter Elwood Museum, SpringBreak Art Show, Hunter College 205 Hudson Gallery and 205 Project Space, and Rockwell Studios. She has written for multiple art publications, including The Brooklyn Rail, Art Papers, Hyperallergic, Art Spiel, Arte Fuse, and White Hot Magazine. Ma received her MA in art history and curatorial studies from Hunter College in 2020.

Jamie Chan, Indoor Interference, n.d., Oil and charcoal on canvas, 60 x 36 inches

Jamie Chan, Mabef easel (Copenhagen), 2023, Gouache on catalog page, 6 x 4 inches

Jamie Chan, Yet to be titled (Hong Kong), 2019, Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches

Jamie Chan, Cursorily Improvised Men, 2023, Oil, pigments in acrylic, gesso, watercolor, gouache on canvas, 48 x 60 inches

Sonya Derman, I’ll be at the end of the bar, 2024, Oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

Sonya Derman, Flow State, 2020, Gouache, watercolor, and watercolor pencil on paper (framed), 16 x 12 inches

Sonya Derman, Slumper, 2023, Embroidery, machine-quilted fabric, and cotton batting, 16 x 13 inches

Sonya Derman, Transient Sheen, 2023, Embroidery, hand appliqué, quilted found and digitally painted fabric, sequins, cotton batting, and mixed media, 18 x 16.5 inches