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Whitewall x Lexus Art and Innovation Series 2022

Whitewall x Lexus Art and Innovation Series: The Stories We Tell in Color

The 2022 iteration of Miami Art Week brought with it the 7th annual Lexus & Whitewall Art and Design Innovation Series, which featured a total of four discussions with art and design experts. The final panel in the series, “The Stories We Tell in Color,” took place at The Bass Museum of Art on Wednesday morning, where Whitewall’s editor in chief Katy Donoghue moderated a conversation around translating the intangible—be it a feeling, a dream, an idea—into something tangible through art, design, and color.

The conversation included artists Nadia Ayari and Troy Simmons and designers Rich Mnisi and Harry Nuriev. The discussion kicked off when Donoghue asked each creative to describe their artistic practice. She noted, in particular, Nuriev’s coining of the phrase “transformism” to categorize his own design practice and how it might pertain to each of the panelists in some way or another. “I transform different meanings, repurpose different objects to something else,” said Nuriev, whose newest piece The Trash Bag Sofa—a design that takes its title quite literally, forming a comfortable seating configuration from what appears to be large black garbage bags—was on view at Design Miami/. “I don’t really like labeling but it’s really important to describe in one word what you do,” he said.

Whitewall x Lexus Art and Innovation Series 2022 Whitewall x Lexus Art and Innovation Series: “The Stories We Tell in Color,” courtesy of Lexus.

“With my practice, I’m transforming memories and experiences into this visual language I create,” said Simmons. Meanwhile, Ayari described herself as “a painter who makes sculpture” and Mnisi divulged that he approaches designs as interactions with the body, stemming from his first avenue of design (clothing), which began as a way to keep his family name alive. “For me, it starts with a story,” he said.

Moving on to the matter of color as a tool, the panelists—who shared a laugh when they noted how their ensembles for the day were devoid of any color—seemed in agreement that sometimes color chooses itself and not the other way around. “Color represents everything that people feel generally,” said Mnisi. “Sometimes it’s just the color. You don’t think too much, it’s just magic,” Nuriev added. For Ayari, a fascination with trending colors was noted (right now it’s a combination of orange and lavender she’s been seeing) along with pondering who or what determines these trends. Mentioning the colorful nature of Miami and the vibrancy of its people, Simmons said, “My colors come from the personalities and the people that I’ve met.”

Next came the matter of material: when color is such a focus for these individuals, how does material come into play? For Ayari and Nuriev, 3D printing is a tool of interest in their current work. While the material in general is less of a focus in his practice, Nuriev dreams of designing a house entirely 3D printed from sustainable material. Pertaining to utilizing 3D printing as a means of making molds for her glass casts, Ayari mentioned how the textures made from the prints added a new tactile element to her work. While texture in her paintings is an element controlled solely by her hand, this new tactile element provided by the printing machine changed the nature of the work “I really liked the intervention of the machine,” she said. “Having the machine make the decisions for me was such a relief.”

Whitewall x Lexus Art and Innovation Series 2022 Whitewall x Lexus Art and Innovation Series: “The Stories We Tell in Color,” courtesy of Lexus.

For Mnisi, the juxtaposition of interesting combinations like bronze and mohair are the things he’s drawn to, noting that his background in fashion has informed this approach. And for Simmons, an interest in cultural appreciation and a focus on recycled and repurposed materials that come from torn-down spaces that are the product of gentrification allow the artist to infuse feelings of home into new work. “I find your home or building a sacred space where you can be yourself,” he said, relating to the importance of giving new life to the matter he repurposes.

The final topic of discussion was a question of viewer experience, wherein Donoghue asked panelists to speak about how they are considering the viewer and how this perspective shapes their work. The panelists touched on several approaches to viewer experience, like Simmons, who stated, “I’m trying to evoke curiosity in the viewer.” Mnisi puts himself in the shoes of the viewer, thinking about he might interact with things, and Ayari mentioned that the curatorial process is where she considers who might be experiencing her work.

“I think there are so many objects and environments that people cannot interact with and I was so sick of it. My practice is very inclusive,” Nuriev shared. “It’s just the reality of today. If it’s not inclusive, then why?”

Whitewall x Lexus Art and Innovation Series 2022 Katy Donoghue, Harry Nuriev, Nadia Ayari, Rich Mnisi, and Troy Simmons for the Whitewall x Lexus Art and Innovation Series: “The Stories We Tell in Color,” courtesy of Lexus.




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