Zayira Ray

CURRENT EXHIBITION

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Location:
126 Baxter Street, NYC

Exhibition Dates:
March 27, 2024 - April 27, 2024

Opening Reception:
April 03 6-8 PM

Artist:
Zayira Ray

CURRENT EXHIBITION

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Baxter St, in partnership with YoungArts, is proud to present a solo exhibition by Zayira Ray (2018 YoungArts Winner in Photography), featuring portrait photographs that explore notions of belonging, love, and kinship in Brown diasporic communities. The culmination of her 2024 YoungArts Baxter St Residency, this presentation showcases a new iteration of an evolving body of work spanning several years. The exhibition will be on view at Baxter St’s storefront gallery at 126 Baxter St. from March 27-April 24, 2024.

The Indian-American artist documents her subjects against hand-painted canvas backdrops, capturing moments of tender intimacy. These constructed canvases act as sanctuaries, in which Ray expands her lens-based practice, envisioning new ways of forging connection. “Here, the photographic backdrop, associated with traditional portraiture, evolves into a vehicle for reconciliation,” she says. “As layers of paint intertwine, so too do the cultural narratives of past, present, and future.”

Romantic couples, familial units, tight knit friends – the subjects in Ray’s images span generations, genders, and national origins, and yet they all share the bonds and burdens of global modernity. Ray’s images are both staged and candid. She has trained her lens on the nuanced and layered relations that form in Brown communities spread throughout the world by choice or by force. In doing so, this body of work celebrates Brownness amidst widespread societal narratives of subjugation and fearmongering.

In many images, the artist explores in-between moments, capturing rekindled moments of joy and belonging, reconciling with what is lost in migration. As Ray says, “I seek to navigate this duality – acknowledging the shared grief of displacement, while also celebrating the resilience and interconnectedness of our shared experiences.”

Ray’s work is a testament to the creative potential of lens-based media in exploring the social and political upheavals that transform relationships within Brown communities across the globe. Demonstrating that collective empowerment can be cultivated in the process of intimate image making, in this vibrant body of work, Ray pulls together the threads that have been frayed by the drift of diasporas across time and space.

ABOUT ZAYIRA RAY

Zayira Ray (b. 2000, New York City) is an Indian-American portrait photographer and artist. Rooted in themes of love, community, and belonging, Ray’s portraits span culture, religion, and socioeconomic strata, highlighting diverse and soulful visual stories from all walks of life. Her commitment to exploring the un-represented, the under-represented, and the mis-represented has led to the creation of arresting and ethereal portraits, devoid of convention and rich with a vivid wonder.
Ray’s work encompasses the realms of contemporary portraiture, classical representation, and mythology, with a keen interest in stories from the South Asian diaspora. Through the intersections of gazes – particularly between herself as a brown woman and with those of her subjects – she documents stories of love, heritage, and sacred bonds, exploring the ebbs and flows of human connection: relationships both familial and familiar, potent and gentle. By constructing tangible “safe spaces” that serve as refuge from the outside world, her photographs highlight our interior spaces: sensibilities and aesthetics, fantasies and desires, moments of both solitude and solace, and the preservation of self.
Ray’s photographs have been published in Vogue India, Vogue Magazine, The New York Times, ELLE, People Magazine, Architectural Digest, and ESSENCE, and exhibited at PHILLIPS Auction House, MoMa PS1, and Photoville, among others. She has received recognition and awards from YoungArts, the Dedalus Foundation, and NASDAQ. Ray is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts in Photography & Imaging.

ABOUT YOUNGARTS BAXTER ST RESIDENCY

YoungArts and Baxter St have joined in a multi-year partnership. Together, the organizations developed the YoungArts Baxter St Residency, building on shared values and expanding Baxter St’s efforts to support emerging artists at critical points in their educational and professional careers. At the core of this partnership is a joint fellowship to support and mentor the next generation of lens-based artists. Created in 2019 and funded by the 7|G Foundation, this residency invites emerging, lens-based, YoungArts award winners living in New York City to apply for two months of workspace access at Baxter St, an artist stipend of $3,000 plus production costs, and mentoring sessions with Baxter St’s Art Advisory Committee members. As residents, artists gain hands-on experience presenting their work, professional development, counsel, and support from experts in their field of study. The residency culminates in a solo show at Baxter St.

ABOUT YOUNGARTS

Established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison, YoungArts identifies exceptional young artists, amplifies their potential, and invests in their lifelong creative freedom. YoungArts provides space, funding, mentorship, professional development and community throughout artists’ careers. Entrance into this prestigious organization starts with a highly competitive application for talented artists ages 15–18, or grades 10–12, in the United States that is judged by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process.
Past YoungArts award winners include Daniel Arsham, Terence Blanchard, Camille A. Brown, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Amanda Gorman, Judith Hill, Jennifer Koh, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Andrew Rannells, Desmond Richardson and Hunter Schafer.
For more information, visit youngarts.org, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or X.

Location:
126 Baxter Street, NYC

Exhibition Dates:
March 27, 2024 - April 27, 2024

Opening Reception:
April 03 6-8 PM

Artist:
Zayira Ray