EXPO Chicago. Natia Lemay: Navy Pier

Natia Lemay, To All Who Have Come to Dwell In This House, 2024, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches, 152.4 x 152.4 cm
Art Martin Cid Magazine
Art Martin Cid Magazine

For EXPO Chicago, 2024, Wilding Cran Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by New Haven-based artist Natia Lemay.

Working primarily with oil paint, Lemay produces circular canvases which pull the viewer into portals of memory, rendering tactility and permanence to the transitory nature of environments inhabited throughout her childhood. The subjects of her paintings reflect early experiences with addiction, violence, and erasure, alongside intersections of race, gender, and ancestry. Through this series of paintings, Lemay communicates a reverence for the past, while directing her practice towards the future. The textural gestures of the artist’s brush (at times integrated with acrylic, graphite, marker, and charcoal) bring out shadows and highlights that allow us to distinguish fragments, which serve to highlight the relationship between Lemay’s human figures and the dense, abstract, uncertain spaces of emotion that they inhabit.

Alongside her series of works on canvas, Lemay continues to explore soapstone carving throughout her practice — a uniquely fragile material with traditional ties to various West African and Indigenous cultures. Through stacking miniature stone renderings of chairs, sofas, and rocking horses, the artist reconfigures the spaces of her childhood through object association. The precarious physicality of each stone sculpture, alongside the labor-intensive method of their assembly, emphasizes Lemay’s unsettled feelings of both metaphorical and literal dispossession.

Through the cultivation of fragmented memories, Natia Lemay harnesses her interdisciplinary practice to produce a visual iconography that grants tactility to an emotional underworld of cyclical displacement and loss, unveiling the tensions and ties between ownership and identity.

Natia Lemay (b. 1985 in Toronto, Ontario) is an Afro-indigenous artist of Black, Mi’kmaw, and Settler descent, raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Natia received her BFA from Ontario College of Art and Design (2021) in drawing/painting with a minor in social sciences and received her MFA from The Yale School of Art in painting/printmaking. Natia’s Work is interdisciplinary to address the expansiveness of conditions under which IBPOC people live. Drawing on childhood experiences, she explores semiotic, philosophical, and socio-psychological themes of identity, hypervisibility, orientation, and consciousness to untangle how the body and mind interact with space and shift through time. Through careful worldbuilding and storytelling, she aims to create a visual vocabulary that makes the invisible visible, articulates the indescribable, and creates space for reflection without prejudice.

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