Nina Johnson gallery presents Texas / Yeshiva, a new solo exhibition by artist Marika Thunder. Opening January 12, 2023, this new body of work explores the subject of duality and facing binaries, as well its role in the artist’s self-formation by placing two seemingly unrelated series of paintings in conversation, together representing the power of a community united under a common objective.
Interested in the human psyche and subjects of community, faith, and spirituality, Marika Thunder incorporates her personal lived experiences, as well as the internalization of these experiences, into her practice. Born in New York City, the artist spent formative years living in several states including Texas, California, and Pennsylvania, with each location creating a split in her personal identity. Building upon internal and external observations in disparate environments and social groups, Thunder reflects on the shared collective drive to seek purpose, passion, and fulfillment.
In her exhibition at Nina Johnson, Thunder draws inspiration from photographs taken at a street parade in Corpus Christi, Texas, and at an all-boys Yeshiva boarding school in Westchester, New York, for two new series of oil paintings. Speaking to contrasting themes, the paintings are both visually and aesthetically distinguishable: vibrant and crowded, solemn and deserted. However, both series share fundamental similarities in concept and portray communities congregating under a shared belief or understanding. Fascinated by the energy generated by intentional gatherings of people, whether it’s a street parade or a religious boarding school, Thunder explores this elevated frequency of experience and synergy.
For the first few works in the “Yeshiva” series, Marika Thunder utilized heavy impasto layering and sanding techniques. As the works developed and progressed, she took on an architectural role and incorporated the same organic compounds found in the school buildings such as industrial paint, granite, and wood putty, further adding a feeling of a human—and a divine ethereal—presence to the depictions of seemingly empty interiors. The “Yeshiva” series serve as an escape from the works in the “Parade” and “Cotillion” series, which center around materialism and contemporary social culture.
“As someone who spent their formative years in two drastically different communities and environments, it felt natural to investigate these two subjects simultaneously. It’s been a journey for me as an artist to embrace this ‘split’ in my identity through my work and begin turning inwards for information while creating rather than relying on it externally,” Marika Thunder said. “While these paintings are referenced from real places I’ve been, how I recollect and recreate them to later share with an audience is where I had to use my intuition to tap into something bigger than myself that can speak to the audience and collective consciousness.”
Texas / Yeshiva is on view through February 18, 2023.
ABOUT the ARTIST
Marika Thunder was born in 1998 in New York City and currently lives and works in New York City. Her work has been exhibited at galleries such as; Nino Mier, Los Angeles, CA; 56 Henry, New York; NY; Public Access, New York, NY; De boer, Los Angeles, CA, NY and Half Gallery, NY.
Her works have been featured in numerous publications such as Purple Magazine, Interview Magazine, Fad Magazine, and Marfa Journal.
ABOUT NINA JOHNSON
Founded by Nina Johnson in 2007, the eponymous Nina Johnson gallery is both a pillar of Miami’s contemporary art community and an internationally recognized art space known for its eclectic and intuitive program. The gallery has produced renowned exhibitions by a diverse range of emerging and established artists from around the world, including Judy Chicago, Awol Erizku, Rochelle Feinstein, Derek Fordjour, Emmett Moore, Woody De Othello, and Katie Stout. Nina Johnson is dedicated to the discovery of hidden pockets of talent and divergence in the art world, priding itself on artist-driven relationships that center on authenticity and variety.
The gallery is located within its own four building compound in the vibrant Little Haiti neighborhood, featuring a traditional exhibition space in the front and a two-story residence in the backyard designed by renowned architecture firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero.