Bold As Brass (or, Third Year Review)
Zora J Murff
Bold As Brass (or, Third Year Review)
Zora J Murff
Baxter St at CCNY is pleased to present Bold As Brass (or, Third Year Review), an exhibition of new sculptures, collages, and images from Zora J Murff, the winner of the first annual Next Step Award. As the award’s recipient, Murff was given carte blanche to expand his photographic practice by experimenting with image making that actively questions the status quo. Zora J Murff: Bold As Brass (or, Third Year Review) centers around his experiences with anti-Blackness, tokenization, and gaslighting in the art world and academia. The exhibition will be on view from November 17, 2021, to January 8, 2022, at Baxter St’s Main Gallery and will be accompanied by the launch of Murff’s first major monograph, True Colors (or, Affirmations in a Crisis), a 220-page book to be published by Aperture with generous support by the 7G Foundation, Baxter St’s partners in the establishment of the Next Step Award.
Bold As Brass (or, Third Year Review) reflects Murff’s desire to name and dismantle the anti-Black violence he has experienced in order to effect change in problematic spaces and systems. Murff’s work in sculpture and collage is a discursive narrative on the evolution and perpetuation of this violence and grapples with the complicated entanglement of the photographic medium with the histories of spectacle, commodification, and race. Bold As Brass continues the artist’s development of a new visual language and purpose—often contextualized by found or appropriated images and commissioned texts—pioneered in his acclaimed series, “At No Point In Between.”
“The work I make is me affirming my worth and the worth of other Black people. I am crafting a space to breathe, move, and liberate ourselves and embolden others to do the same once free,” said Zora J Murff. “I’m grateful to see organizations like Baxter St, 7|G Foundation, and Aperture combining their resources to create a high level of support for meaningful artists whose work often goes unrecognized or unacknowledged for many reasons. The Next Step Award allowed me to make the necessary space in my life to expand my practice and scholarship.”
Alongside the exhibition, and as part of Baxter St of CCNY’s mission to amplify image-based artists with strong worldviews, Murff will also launch his first major monograph, True Colors (or, Affirmations in a Crisis), a 220-page book to be published by Aperture in February 2022. Advance copies will be available at the exhibition upon request.
“Zora Murff’s solo exhibition Bold As Brass will set a precedent for rethinking and reimagining photographic storytelling, as he pushes the definition of photography through collage and sculpture and explores identity on a personal level,” said Baxter St Director Jil Weinstock. “Murff was selected for the outstanding work he began with the published series ‘At No Point in Between’ and has continued in ‘American Mother, American Father.’ Baxter St believes in Murff’s vision and was thrilled to partner with Aperture and the 7|G Foundation to invest in the scholarship of his work. We are excited to see how his practice will evolve with the Next Step Award and Baxter’s ongoing support during this critical stage in his development.”
Both the exhibition and publication result from the Next Step Award, a collaboration between Baxter St and Aperture, with generous support from the 7|G Foundation. In 2020, Zora J Murff was the first artist to receive the annual award, which aims to identify strong emerging or evolving voices whose work deserves greater recognition providing scholarship, exhibition opportunities, and advocacy from two leading organizations in the field of photography. Murff was selected by a nominating committee of esteemed artists, writers, art historians, and curators that included Dawoud Bey, Nayland Blake, Isolde Brielmaier, Zoe Buckman, Howie Chen, Carmen Hermo, Justine Kurland, An-My Lê, Christopher Lew, Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, Aspen Mays, Sarah Hermanson Meister, José Parlá, Seph Rodney, Antwaun Sargent, Drew Sawyer, Lisa Sutcliffe, Mickalene Thomas, Ka-Man Tse, Jasmine Wahi, Deborah Willis, and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa.
Coming Soon: Zora J Murff: True Colors (or, Affirmations in a Crisis)
True Colors (or, Affirmations in a Crisis) is a chronicle of survival by trailblazing artist Zora J Murff.
Murff constructs a manual for coming to terms with the historical and contemporary realities of America’s divisive structures of privilege and caste. Since leaving social work to pursue photography over a decade ago, Murff’s work has consistently grappled with the complicit entanglement of the medium in the histories of spectacle, commodification, and race, often contextualizing his own photographs with found and appropriated images and commissioned texts. True Colors continues that work, expanding to address the act of remembering and the politics of self, which Murff identifies as “the duality of Black patriotism and the challenges of finding belonging in places not made for me—of creating an affirmation in a moment of crisis as I learn to remake myself in my own image.” Nuanced, challenging, and inspiring, True Colors (or, Affirmations in a Crisis) is a must-have monograph by a rising and standout artist.
Zora J Murff (born in Des Moines, Iowa, 1987) is an artist and educator living in Arkansas. In 2019, Murff was named an Aperture Portfolio Prize finalist, a PDN 30 honoree, and a Light Work Artist-in-Residence; he was one of eight artists chosen for the most recent iteration of the Museum of Modern Art’s New Photography series, Companion Pieces: New Photography 2020. Murff’s books include Corrections (2015); LOST, Omaha (2018); and At No Point In Between (2019). His work was included in the 2021 Rencontres d’Arles, France, as part of the Louis Roederer Discovery Award.
Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York is an artist-run arts organization and exhibition space that supports and activates the community of lens-based contemporary artists by offering workspace residencies, a dynamic program, talk series, and memberships. Founded in 1884, Baxter St is one of New York’s oldest artist-run nonprofit spaces fostering emerging lens-based artists’ development at critical moments of their careers. Baxter St is a catalyst for innovative creation within the artistic mediums of photography and video, providing analog and digital workspace to members, exhibiting solo and group shows by emerging artists, hosting dynamic programming, and offering competitive workspace residency programs practices.
Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation, connects the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other—in print, in person, and online. Created in 1952 by photographers and writers as “common ground for the advancement of photography,” Aperture today is a multiplatform publisher and center forthe photo community. From its base in New York, Aperture Foundation produces, publishes, and presents a variety of photography projects and programs—locally, across the United States, and around the world.
7|G Foundation champions organizations and individuals that challenge inequality in human rights, education, art, and culture. By partnering with organizations, artists, and community facilitators, we seek to build strong community bonds that elevate local culture while supporting cultural change founded upon our core social impact and sustainability values.