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Public Art Fund Talks: Awol Erizku

Public Art Fund Talks: Awol Erizku


Awol Erizku’s distinctive visual language emerges from thoughtful, contemplative underpinnings into layered, colorful, and striking photographs. Growing up in the Bronx and influenced by its diverse communities, Erizku’s approach to photography is informed by both contemporary life in the United States and global culture.

Erizku’s free virtual conversation with Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer on May 10th accompanies New Visions for Iris, the artist’s most ambitious exhibition to date. For his first solo public show, Erizku created a new body of 13 photographs which are on view on 350 JCDecaux bus shelters across New York City’s five boroughs and throughout Chicago through June 20. New Visions for Iris marks Public Art Fund’s first simultaneous presentation in New York and Chicago. Together, Erizku—who graduated from The Cooper Union School of Art School in 2010—and Palmer will discuss his practice, the process of creating this exhibition, and its response.

Erizku created this new group of pictures during the past tumultuous year. The difficulties of the pandemic and attendant social unrest were countered by the blessings of the birth of Erizku’s daughter Iris, as well as a period of spiritual and artistic growth. In New Visions for Iris, he reflects on the moment with a deeply personal interpretation of how art can act as a site to process challenging times and spark conversation. The artist sees these images as starting points for future dialogue with his daughter about complicated issues. They are also intended as prompts for all audiences to find connection, community, and beauty in the scenes they depict. Each “new vision” is a proposition that invites us to reimagine inherited traditions as our own sources for liberation and inspiration. Through that process, they can help us see and create the world anew.

Register for free.

Public Art Fund Talks are presented in partnership with The Cooper Union


About the Artist

Awol Erizku (b. 1988, Gondar, Ethiopia) is a conceptual artist living and working in Los Angeles, CA. Erizku received his BA from The Cooper Union School of Art in 2010 and his MFA from Yale in 2014. He has exhibited at institutions across the country including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Mystic Parallax at The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, Slow Burn at Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong, Menace II Society at Night Gallery, Los Angeles, Make America Great Again at Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, New Flower | Images of the Reclining Venus at The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, and Bad II the Bone presented at nomadic exhibition venue, Duchamp Detox Clinic, by Night Gallery.

About the Talks

Public Art Fund Talks, organized in collaboration with The Cooper Union, connect compelling contemporary artists to a broad public by establishing a dialogue about artistic practices and public art. The Talks series feature internationally renowned artists who offer insights into artmaking and its personal, social, and cultural contexts. The core values of creative expression and democratic access to culture and learning shared by both Public Art Fund and The Cooper Union are embodied in this ongoing collaboration. In the spirit of accessibility to the broadest and most diverse public, the Talks are offered free of charge.