The Bronx Museum of the Arts is celebrating its 50-year anniversary by showcasing the work of 68 promising young artists in its Artist in Marketplace exhibition.

This year’s show, “Bronx Calling,” focuses on ideas like health crises, grief, the environment, and the concept of identity. The free show is one of many programs planned to celebrate the museum’s anniversary and legacy as an institution committed to social justice.

Exhibition co-curator Ian Cofre explained that the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the themes of the exhibition.

It’s rare that we actually have, on a global scale, a universal experience on which to reflect. We were cognizant that the pandemic afforded us a way to confront and explore this moment through multiple perspectives,” he said.

The 68 artists featured, including 11 from New York and one from the Bronx, participated in the museum’s annual AIM Fellowship program in 2018 and 2019.

The fellowship is the museum’s prime artist development program, offering career management resources.  The nine-month curriculum guides artists through topics like legal practices in the industry and navigating the art market. The artists attend a series of intensive seminars and hands-on activities taught by industry experts.

The executive director of the museum, Klaudio Rodriguez, said that nurturing emerging artists is part of the museum’s core mission, along with supporting and advancing art, social justice and equal opportunity.

Since the AIM Fellowship was founded in 1980, nine years after the museum opened, the program has offered career support to over 1,200 emerging artists.

Photo: Camryn Quick. Corrugated Warba (2020) by Christian Breed, who is a featured artist in the biennial.

Christian Breed, a 39-year old Bronx artist, expressed his gratitude for the fellowship program and the museum’s focus on giving emerging artists like him opportunities like the AIM biennial show.

“The fellowship provided an important sense of community with fellow artists, including peer critiques of the artists’ work. This was crucial for me, as it provided a continuation of the types of dialogues I had in my MFA program,” he said.

Breed, who lives in Concourse Village but has a studio in Mott Haven, is a mixed-media canvas artist.  He has two pieces of work featured in the exhibition.

Breed describes his work as focusing on the interactions between communities and their architecture.  He provides as an example how architecturally interesting buildings like synagogues or mosques in the Bronx have been adapted to other needs and, in that way, survived. He is also inspired by the clothing and accessories his neighbors wear.

“The fellowship opened doors in the art world for me and gave my work new exposure. It also allowed me to forge relationships that continue to have an impact on the work itself,” he said.

While the exhibition has taken over the entire museum, the museum is still hosting a series of other events to help celebrate its anniversary. For the official calendar of events, see the website.

In September, as the first, and one of the only, museums to reopen in the Bronx following pandemic shutdowns, the museum implemented Covid-19 vaccination requirements for visitors 12 and older.  Starting Dec. 14, vaccination proof will be required for visitors ages 5 and older.

Free tickets for the exhibition can be reserved on the Bronx Museum of the Arts website. The exhibition opened on Nov. 10 and will stay open until March 20, 2022.

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