NXTHVN Reveals New Exhibition: “Not For Sale”
NXTHVN’s exhibition “Not For Sale” opened on March 4 curated by NXTHVN curatorial fellows Cornelia Stokes and Kiara Cristina Ventura.
Chloe Edwards, Contributing Photographer
A trumpet covered in bullet shells, a palette of packaged ramen and a canvas covered in durags. These are just a few of the artworks currently on display at NXTHVN’s exhibition, “Not For Sale.”
The exhibit, housed at Dixwell art space NXTHVN, opened on March 4. The exhibition was curated by NXTHVN curatorial fellows Cornelia Stokes and Kiara Cristina Ventura. The curators worked to show a lineage of Black and brown artists in the selection of the works.
Ventura told the News that the two keywords that characterize the exhibit are “ownership” and “agency.”
“These artists are working with these found mediums to say, ‘This is mine; this is a part of my culture; this is a part of my history; this is a part of my identity,’” Ventura said.
When viewers first enter NXTHVN they see the work of Lucia Hierro ART ’13.
“You’d normally find these brands in Spanish food aisles,” said Hierro, when asked about her works, “Arroz Blanco” and “Frijoles Negro.” “I wanted to give them a moment so people can stop and take a look at what these objects mean. Outside of [the] rush of shopping, and consuming … these things have become icons on their own, sort of like relics of the culture.”
Following Hierro’s work, viewers see Sable Elyse Smith’s “Spread” in the exhibition window.
“So here there’s ramen noodles stacked on top of each other in a very formal, clean-cut way,” Ventura said of Smith’s work. “This piece speaks to the trophy pics that police would usually take in front of confiscated items.”
As someone whose father was incarcerated for 19 years of her life, Smith’s work relates to her personal experience as well as the larger issue of mass incarceration.
Upon entering the exhibition, eyes are drawn to Anthony Akinbola’s bright red piece “Rosa Corsa,” which is placed beside an equally eye-catching work, “Composition with Nine Gold Impressions,” by LaKela Brown.
“LaKela Brown and Anthony Akinbola share the intersection of a wall and that conversation, I feel, between Black femininity and Black masculinity, but also both of these objects, found material, are sourced from the beauty supply store,” Stokes said.
The works of the oldest and youngest artist in the exhibition, David Hammons and Emmanuel Massillon, respectively, are placed right beside each other. Despite the age gap, the two artists share quite a few similarities.
Massillon’s “Drill Music” and Hammons’ “Untitled” talk about, “[Basketball], music, and the rapper lifestyle being this form of escapism,” Ventura told the News. “These are dreams that are often … sold to us, because we see ourselves in the hip hop industry, we see ourselves in the sports industry. We see that representation.”
To tie together the exhibition, the exhibit features the video piece, “Love is the Message, the Message is Death” by Arthur Jafa.
Jafa’s work is an emotional montage of news clips and other videos accompanied by Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” from his album “The Life of Pablo.” It incorporates motifs of spirituality and faith, Stokes said.
“There are a ton of feelings,” Chinna Palmer DRA ’25, said. “The specific curation of “Not For Sale” is hitting home in many different ways for me, like as I can see through the window the durag piece by [Anthony Akinbola], the tapestry is something that I know so very well from my family members from my own personal experience and to see it displayed in this way, it feels like such a badge of joy … And then of course the video with Jafa.”
“Not For Sale” will be on display at NXTHVN, 169 Henry St., until May 14.
Correction 4/9: A previous version of this article misspelled Ventura’s name, and misstated the name of the Kanye West album featured in Jafa’s work.