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Institute of Contemporary Art Miami

Installation view: "Nina Chanel Abney: Cafeteria," at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Photo by Zachary Balber
Installation view: "Nina Chanel Abney: Cafeteria," at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Photo by Zachary Balber
Nov 28, 2022 – Oct 15, 2023
Nina Chanel Abney: Cafeteria

In conjunction with her exhibition “Big Butch Energy” (November 28, 2022–March 5, 2023), Nina Chanel Abney has created a monumental wallpaper installation that responds to ICA Miami’s three-story staircase, its multiple landings, and its perspectives.

Fascinated with the social structures of school and the university, Abney has created a cafeteria scene rich with symbolic meanings. The artist has made vignettes with abstracted figures and still-life elements, including sneakers and basketballs, food items, and price tags. With this work, Abney has reclaimed traditionally male-coded styles of portraiture and symbolism. She has also included signs for women’s bathrooms, a reference to one way in which politicians have framed a far-reaching design to deny trans-identifying people their basic human rights. The price tags, a recurring motif in Abney’s work, point to questions of class, value, and desire.

Nina Chanel Abney (b. 1982, Chicago) has been honored with solo exhibitions at the Gordon Parks Foundation, Pleasantville, New York (2022; traveled to Henry Art Gallery, Seattle); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2019–21); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018); and the Contemporary Dayton, Ohio (2021). Additionally, her solo exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (2017), toured to the Chicago Cultural Center; Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; California African American Museum, Los Angeles; and the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York. Recently, Abney has created monumental public murals on the facade of David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and for the new Miami Worldcenter inspired by Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. Abney’s work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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Installation view: "Nina Chanel Abney: Cafeteria," at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Photo by Zachary Balber
Installation view: "Nina Chanel Abney: Cafeteria," at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Photo by Zachary Balber
Installation view: "Nina Chanel Abney: Cafeteria," at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Photo by Zachary Balber
Installation view: "Nina Chanel Abney: Cafeteria," at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Photo by Zachary Balber