Nina Chanel Abney’s works on paper give voice to the artist’s social consciousness on a bold, "unapologetic" scale. Unified through her signature visual language of symbols and stylized figures, her prints and collages draw both subject and message from current events and society. In her words, “As I am creating a piece, everything that is happening in the moment may find its way in the work.” With their alluring color palette, Abney’s works beckon the viewer closer, only to find themselves confronted with messages that can leave them unnerved. From the pernicious effects of housing discrimination to the racist rhetoric found in today’s politics, Abney invites the viewer to participate in timely conversations.
Influenced by how society accumulates and processes overwhelming amounts of information, Abney’s universal language of symbols attach themselves to a multitude of meanings, depending on their context. She welcomes all reactions to her artwork and states that the goal is to initiate a dialogue. Her graphic, iconic compositions open the floodgates for viewers to approach cultural hot topics from a variety of angles and allow them to interject their own personal experiences into the narrative. “I just really want to get the conversation started; I’m not necessarily trying to push a personal agenda or personal message. I just want to get everyone talking around these topics.”
Abney was born in Chicago and currently lives and works in New York. Her work is included in collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Brooklyn Museum, The Rubell Family Collection, Bronx Museum, and the Burger Collection, Hong Kong.
Abney’s first solo museum exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, curated by Marshall Price, Nancy Hanks Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, was presented in 2017 at the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina. It traveled to the Chicago Cultural Center and then to Los Angeles, where it was jointly presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the California African American Museum. The final venue for the exhibition was the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York. The artist has had further solo institutional presentations at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Contemporary, Dayton, in 2019 and 2021. Following an overseas museum début at the Palais de Tokyo in 2018, Abney has continued to exhibit across the globe, including at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2021-2022. In 2022-2023 she was the subject of solo exhibitions at the Gordon Parks Foundation, Henry Gallery, ICA Miami, MoCA Cleveland and SCAD Museum of Art.