Surbhi Bharadwaj

The work of nine Yale graduates will be displayed in the 79th Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City from May 17 to Sept. 22.

The artists — John Edmonds ART ’16, Ilana Harris-Babou ’13, Curran Hatleberg ART ’10, Tomashi Jackson ART ’16, Eric N. Mack ART ’12, Troy Michie ART ’11, Wangechi Mutu ART ’00, Jennifer Packer ART ’12 and Elle Pérez ART ’15 — all received a master’s of fine arts from the Yale School of Art with the exception of  Harris-Bobou, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale College. Three selected artists — Edmonds, Michie and Pérez — have taken positions on Yale’s faculty since their graduation. Their work will join that of 66 other artists in the exhibition.

The Biennial, according to the Whitney’s website, is “an unmissable event for anyone interested in finding out what’s happening in art today.” Initiated in 1932 by museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the Biennial runs every other year and is “the longest-running exhibition in the country to chart the latest developments in American art,” according to the Whitney’s website.

“Taking the pulse of American creativity and culture, the Whitney Biennial has been finding the future of contemporary art for nearly a century,” said Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director in a Feb. 26 press release. “The Biennial is an essential strand of the Museum’s DNA, a chance to reaffirm one of the Whitney’s deepest commitments: to support the work of living artists and to engage in a cultural dialogue about what contemporary art is and why it matters.”

The curators of this Biennial, Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, emphasized that they looked for emerging artists and first-time Biennial participants. They selected 75 artists from 300 studio visits in the past year.

About 75 percent of the artists whose work is displayed in the show are under 40, and only five of the artists have displayed their work in previous Whitney Biennial exhibitions.

The Yale faculty and alumni chosen for the Biennial will represent a broad range of disciplines, including photography, painting, collage and video design. Most consider their work to be interdisciplinary and have experience in both group and solo exhibitions.

In the press release, Hockley explained that the exhibit explores key themes including “mining of history in order to reimagine the present or future, a profound and sustained consideration of questions of equity along financial, racial and sexual lines, a concern with climate change and explorations of the vulnerability of the body.”

None of the Yale graduates responded to multiple requests for comment.

Lindsay Daugherty | 

Skakel McCooey |