Rockella Artist Studio Program (RASP)
What an exceptional journey it was to review all your work! We received nearly 200 applications and the Rockella Space Team decided to increase the opportunity of offering free studio space culminating in an exhibition from five NYC artists to eight because of the exceptional work we saw that you are all creating! We can’t wait to support these artists over the next two months with public programming and look forward to sharing their work with you all.
Follow us on RASP’s Instagram account to get an in-depth view of the selected artists’ practice and the progress of the work they will create while AIR at Rockella Space.
Introducing our RASP Summer 2023 Pilot Program Artists-In-Residence.
My interdisciplinary practice examines the effects of neoliberalism and how this ideology functions through a set of principles as well as through physical signifiers, material conditions, and social relationships. I also make use of personal and familial items and stories which reference labor, housing, and privatization policy but also spaces beyond the capture of the market.
I document (photo, video, sound) and use materials from physical sites which exemplify neoliberal ideals—containerized ports, tech-hubs, construction sites, and private property—and related cultural items, such as down vests (the neoliberal worker’s “uniform”) and tech convention backpacks to make sculptures. The sculptures often use odd pairings of materials, precarious stacking as well as casting and haphazard building.
Craik Calum is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in New York and Scotland. Craik has exhibited nationally and internationally, which includes venues such as The Royal Standard in Liverpool, Nurture Art in Brooklyn, NY and the San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries, given talks at Real Time and Space in Oakland, CA and has been interviewed by the Berkeley Art Center. Craik has recently completed residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts, CA and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop as well as a solo exhibition as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. Recently their work has also been written about by critic and historian Tausif Noor. Craik also has taught Sculpture at San Francisco State University and recently conducted workshop’s with Edinburgh’s College. Craik’s current practice is centered on the effects of neoliberalism on labor.
“I will make sculptures and multimedia works that examine labor and social relations. The sculptures will often use discarded undervalued items related to exchange, precarious stacking as well as casting and haphazard building.”
Maia Del Estal
Through my practice, I interplay access to my emotional experience, lyrical inner voice, and visionary imagination, alongside with explicit display of my own body. With the intention of complete giving, my work exposes my biography, sexuality, and inner wounds, as a way to shed light on the things that we repress, that we keep silent. I paint in large format, often during intense, trancelike, states of performative gesture. Abstract mindscapes and zoomorphic ‘creatures’, laying bare affective needs and dependencies, showing human decadence with humor and satirical irony. My aim is to ironize monstrosity to avoid becoming a victim of it.
Maia del Estal ( Argentina, 1993) is a self-taught painter, poet, performance artist and Ikebana practitioner based in Brooklyn. She grew up in a family of artists and political dissidents, influenced by the queer countercolture of Buenos Aires. Maia started painting and writing poetry around 14 years old and participated in many group shows and solo exhibitions. In 2015 she begins studying Ikenaba acquiring flower arrangement in her artistic practice as a personal method for emotional rebalance. Maia moves to NYC in 2017, where she started working on a series of videos exploring ways to deliver poetry, performance and sound installation.
“Vulnerability is empowering.
Ironize monstrosity or you will become a victim of it.
I am building in the studio a space of intimacy, a ritual, to give yourself completely in an art exorcism.”
My work is rooted in my ingrained Indian heritage, the conviviality of the brothel I grew up in and further branches out to the rooftops of the diasporic queer community that I now call home. Curious in self-portraiture and mythology, I distort and reconstruct traditional narratives of body, gender, and sexuality in an attempt to understand myself as a visual subject. The sari has become a leitmotif in my recent works: tied to the memory of the violent death of my mother burnt in fire, the saris bear the weight of her absence and erasure. Yet their literal veiling also forms a womb-like shelter, allowing for play with gender. The fabrics are both brushstrokes of colors and feminine exuberance even as they record loss.
Avijit Halder is an Indian-born American visual artist based in New York City. Through photography, painting, installation, and video, Halder explores their past and present identity as an artist, articulating their experiences of loss, belonging, displacement, and transformation. Avijit was one of the subjects featured in the academy award-winning documentary “Born into Brothels”. Halder is a 2019 graduate of the ICP-Bard MFA program and earned their BFA in film & tv from New York University in 2012. Their work has been exhibited in both solo and group shows, most notably, Higher Pictures, GNY21 MoMA ps1, Baxter street.
“I hope to continue to work with my mother’s saris, depending on resources I would want to explore this material in the 3d world and also continue self-portraiture work incorporating my child.”
My interest lies in our relationship with nature and animals and how it has been dominated by artificial and controlled environments. Inspired by Natural history museums and zoos, my work is built on this feeling that things are not what they seem. I draw from the history of European landscape painting and its idealized vision of nature to create an appealing and seductive image in which things hide. My paintings are strange landscapes that let the spectator lose themselves in this illusory sense of peace and calm. Blurring the line between violence and pleasure; I question how these notions coexist.
Lola Lefrancios is a french NYC-based artist that grew up between France and India where she lived in an experimental township called Auroville (Tamil Nadu). She has been on several group and solo shows in New York City and France, most notably, “Fish don’t die with their eyes closed”, Solos Show, Compton Goethals Gallery, NY,(2023) ; “What we did last Summer”, Compton Goethals Gallery, NY, (2022); Les EVAsions des Arts, art festival, Villy en Auxois, France;. She has won prestigious scholarships; The Kenza scholarship from Foundation for the arts (France), the Connor Award and the Crous scholarship.
“My work is focused on the relation between what we see and what we think we see reality/illusion. For this residency, I will combine my paintings and sculptural work into one installation. The space and the work will come together in one unique experience that questions our perception of nature and animals.”
Through my practice I am looking for new forms of existence within the hierarchical social and cultural systems of society. I am interested in the narrative where scholarly and artistic imagination overlap. I’m asking myself how to be a political artist without direct aggressive gestures but instead with a social empathy embedded in painterly and sculptural form through constant interaction with individuals and communities. My primary artistic focus is on large-scale paintings, videos and shadow installations that are based on historical contradictions. The interviews with representatives of various social groups are the starting point for most of my works.
Katya Muromtseva is a visual artist with a background in philosophy and stage design. She holds an MFA from VCU school of the Arts. She has had solo exhibitions at the M HKA Museum, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art, XL Gallery, Art Front Gallery, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial among others. In 2020 she was a resident at WHW Academy in Zagreb and was listed in Forbes Russia “30 under 30”. Her exhibitions and individual works were covered by ArtForum, The Economist, The New York Times, The World, TokyoArtBeat among others.
“Currently, I am conducting interviews with prominent women who have experienced immigration and institutional oppression. In the residency, I plan to create large-scale watercolor triptychs based on these interviews.”
I am an interdisciplinary artist, and my work explores absence, separation, and the search for harmony through Performance Art. Generating new collective realities for peace is at the foundation of my practice. My work attempts to counteract violence and fear by magnifying stillness, vulnerability, and togetherness. I am motivated by challenging existing preconceptions, generating new understanding, and dissolving barriers to human unity such as borders, migration politics, physical distance, pain, machismo, cultural segregation, and death. My performance installations often involve underwater submersion, body transfiguration, durational process, audience participation, and the creation of unique immersive audiovisual experiences through art, technology, and science.
Verónica Peña (Spain/US) is an interdisciplinary artist, independent curator, and international-community advocate. Peña performs and exhibits primarily in Europe and America: Museo Ex Teresa (CDMX, 2022), Satellite Art Fair (Miami Art Week, 2021), Grace Exhibition Space (2021), NARS Foundation (Artist-In Residence, 2021), Smack Mellon, Hemispheric Institute, Queens Museum, SAIC, Times Square Alliance, Armory Show, among others. She received a FCA Grant 2022, was selected for Creative Capital NYC Taller, received a Franklin Furnace Fund, published “The Presence Of The Absent”, was reviewed by Donald Kuspit, and on Hyperallergic. She leads Performance Art Open Call, a +28,500 members FB Community. She received an MFA from Stony Brook University.
“Blurring The Self” is an experimental project that portrays the underwater metamorphosis of the self in its struggle for individual and collective harmony.
Artist Bio and Statement
Brooklyn-based artist Kristian Armour-Williams (b. 1993, New Orleans, LA) creates colorful digital illustrations which help him document his own mental health. Kristian views his works as visual journals and a way for him to thoroughly digest the full menu of emotions that we take on every day.
Kristian’s digital works focus on movement, color, and how he is interacting with the world that he’s created. “I’ve never been someone that processes information through writing. When it comes to expressing myself, imagery is the vehicle that makes the most sense to me. I just hope that when people see these works, they can resonate with the colors and the shapes, and it helps them to better understand themselves and the ones they surround themselves with.”
“I primarily work in a digital platform, so during this residency, I’ll be transitioning my works to paint on canvas. I hope to create more body and texture with this new series of works.”
With a motivation rooted in personal history, I have always been enthusiastic about investigating the subjects of the female body, cosmology, and mortality. My primary media are painting, printmaking, collage, and installation, sometimes accompanied by time-based performance. Conceptually, I embed transformation, liminality, repetition, and multiplicity in my work. I use materials that evoke visceral feelings, including paper, fabrics, clay, and mirrors. Physically, I adapt cutting, tearing, burning, incising, (un)folding, layering, and printing in the procedures. Through playing with the materials, images, and space, each work holds a place to transform into something else, often by using a mirror, threshold, and the idea of absence. To play is to challenge the melancholy and fearful emotions when confronting death and trauma, to argue a generally depressed cultural background, to resist the fixed rules, and to eventually create new possibilities for understanding the world.
Shuai Yang (b.1998 Beijing, China) is an interdisciplinary artist who works with painting, printmaking, collage, and installation to investigate the subjects of the female body, cosmology, and mortality. She embeds concepts of transformation, liminality, repetition, and multiplicity; uses materials that evoke visceral feelings, including paper and fabrics; and employs cutting, burning, incising, stitching, (un)folding, and layering in the physical procedures. Yang is a recipient of the Morty Frank Travel Fellowship and Donald C. Kelley Travel Award. Her work has been shown in New York, Miami, Boston, and Beijing. She received her MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University School of The Arts and a BFA in printmaking from Massachusetts College of Art.
“I hope to make an installation with hanging puppets, a light source, a mirror sculpture, a water tank,
and sound in a dark space. Consequently, this installation becomes a symphony of sight and sound,
heightening the immersive and transformative traveling experience into another realm.”