Wardell Milan: PERSONA
September 6, 2017 - October 15, 2017
Reception: Wednesday, September 6, 6-8 PM

Project For Empty Space
[at] Gateway Project Spaces
2 Gateway Center, #Newark
www.projectforemptyspace.org

Project For Empty Space is pleased to present PERSONA a solo exhibition of works by Artist in Residence Wardell Milan. The exhibition will open to the public on Wednesday, September 6th, with a reception from 6 - 8 PM at the PES gallery located at 2 Gateway Center, Newark, NJ.

Wardell Milan is an artist with a poetic penchant for addressing issues of marginality, invisibility, or ‘freakishness’ with a grace and beauty that coaxes the grotesque to become the gorgeous. Wardell Milan’s PERSONA is an exhibition featuring new work by the artist that explores many of the socially inspired themes that frequently recur in the artist’s practice: queerness, peripherality, mental illness, fetish, and capitalistic value systems.

The exhibition features some of Milan’s well known large-scale mixed media drawings from A Series of Inspiring Women (2012- 2016) and various portraits that portray androgyny, queerness, and the beauty of the ambiguous. The show additionally includes an entirely new series of collage works inspired by the photographic work of Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe's Black Book. These works on paper directly confront the issues of marginality within the intersectional context of race and sexual identity.

Much of PERSONA was created during Milan’s residency at Project For Empty Space, which encourages artists to cultivate discourse around social equality.

PERSONA will be on view from Wednesday, September 6th, through Sunday, October 15th, 2017.

About Wardell Milan:

Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Wardell Milan earned a BFA in photography and painting at the University of Tennessee in 2001, attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2003, and received his MFA from Yale University in 2004. 

Mr. Milan has had numerous solo museum and gallery exhibitions across the globe; from the advent of his New York exhibition career in 2005, he was heralded as a significant force. New York Times critic, Holland Cotter said of Milan’s work, “Mr. Milan's work has plenty of finesse, but also feels flexible, on a growth curve an auspicious debut.” (New York Times, 2005). Significant solo exhibitions include The Charming Hour at David Nolan Gallery in 2015, Kingdom or Exile: Parisian Landscapes at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2013, Landscapes! Romance, Recession, and Rottenness at Rhodes College in Memphis in 2009. Wardell Milan: Drawings of Harlem at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2009.

In addition to his solo work, Mr. Milan has participated in numerous significant institutional group exhibitions including; George Grosz: Politics and His Influence at David Nolan Gallery in 2016, Black: Color, Material, Concept at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2015, Greater New York curated by Klaus Biesenbach at MoMA PS1 in 2015 and 2005, The Confident Line: George Grosz, Wardell Milan, Andy Warhol at David Nolan Gallery in 2015, Glitter & Folds at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 2013, and Three Thousand Times, each hour, a different terrain: Titus Kaphar, Wardell Milan, Demetrius Oliver at Inman Gallery in Houston in 2014. 

Amongst his many accolades, Mr. Milan has received numerous awards, grants, and residencies; including, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award in 2007, an Art Matters Grant in 2011, a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2014, the Artist-In-Residence at the Rauschenberg Residency in 2017, and the University of Tennessee's African American Trailblazer Award in 2017Wardell Milan lives in New York City, and is represented by David Nolan Gallery.

Image, detail: Masked man at a ball, N.Y.C, cut and pasted paper on printed paper, 8 x 11", 2016

Installation images of Wardell Milan: PERSONA. Photographs courtesy of Anthony Alvarez