Younger galleries and project spaces brought their best to NADA Miami this year, possibly putting more energy towards the fair in response to the news that NADA will be canceling their New York fair next spring, opting to promote their member’s gallery programming instead while other fairs happen in the city. There were plenty of standout works at this years fair, and I was repeatedly drawn to artists working with myths, surrealism, fantasy, and other strategies in imagination that feel very appropriate after another anxious, uncertain year.
I’ve been following Emma Pryde’s work online for about a year now after seeing documentation of her solo show, “Nature’s Prophet,” at King’s Leap. When the gallery announced a solo presentation of her work for NADA this year, I made sure it would be the first booth I checked out. Emma Pryde’s practice constructs a contemporary mythology in a cotton candy color pallet from an expansive iconography drawing on everything from the Pokémon dolls she had growing up to the Greek mythology she’s read. The figures emerge from the kiln with such a high level of craft as Pryde forges a new mysticism that’s hauntingly adorable. Alec Petty of King’s Leap told me about a story in Greek mythology featuring a sphinx. The Greek sphinx, both a woman and a monster, exiled towards the edge of town because of her habit of killing men. As he drew connections in Pryde’s practice between girlhood and fantasy and history and darkness, I thought about how the Greek sphinx was in some ways a chimera of chthonic ancestors—a figure born from other mythological creatures living underground, and how exciting it was to see this atemporal sphinx, rendered in clay, splicing stories and characters thousands of years apart into a form where the eras live simultaneously, all at once, in a new icon.