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Chris Watts with Corinne Erni

Galerie Lelong & Co., New York is pleased to present a conversation held on occasion of Chris Watts's solo exhibition Integration, on view in the gallery from April 4 to May 4, 2024.

Join the artist in conversation with Corinne Erni, Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator of Art and Education and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Parrish Art Museum, as they discuss Watts's practice and the new works on view. The exhibition presents four of the artist’s ongoing series, highlighting Watts’s practice of creating spaces for introspection, remembrance, and meditation through his use of abstraction, transparency, and subtle subversions of art historical conventions. Referencing the concept of integration as it relates to psychedelic therapies, Watts investigates how the Afro-Indigenous cosmologies of these undefinable yet universal spaces can be internalized to better understand the physical world.

About the Speakers

Chris Watts is an interdisciplinary artist whose work seeks to revise, interrogate, and re-examine social and personal narratives through the transfiguration of painting and installation. Currently, these projects exist as representations of windows as switches into another, layered, assemblage of spaces that act as guides in the exploration of sacred meditative spaces and encounters with the immaterial. He attended the MFA program at Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut, after graduating from the College of Arts and Architecture, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Wroclaw, Poland. He participated in the Art & Law Fellowship Program, at Cornell University Art Architecture Planning, New York; and is a 22-23 Soros Justice Fellow. Watts has held various artist residencies, among them the Marek Maria Pienkowski Foundation, Chelm, Poland; McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Charlotte, North Carolina; and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, New York. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

Watts was born in High Point, North Carolina, in 1984 and now lives and works between New York City and North Carolina.

Corinne Erni is the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator of Art and Education, and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Parrish Art Museum, which she joined in 2016 as Curator of Special Projects. She is currently organizing solo exhibitions with Sam Moyer, Eddie Martinez, Julia Chiang, KAWS, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. In 2023, she organized Artists Choose Parrish, a yearlong landmark exhibition series and publication celebrating the Museum’s 125th Anniversary, inviting renowned artists with deep roots in the East End of Long Island to select works from the Permanent Collection to be shown alongside their own work. Earlier projects to Erni’s credit include the solo exhibitions of Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things (2022); Tomashi Jackson: The Land Claim (2021); Barthélémy Toguo: The Beauty of Our Voice (2018); and Artists Choose Artists (2016, 2019), the Parrish juried exhibition series with a focus on mentorship among renowned and emerging East End artists.

Erni organized the group exhibitions Another Justice: Us Is Them | Hank Willis Thomas and For Freedoms (2022), which included the offsite exhibition Shinnecock Monuments with commissioned work by Indigenous artists; and Set It Off by Deux Femmes Noires (Mickalene Thomas and Racquel Chevremont, 2021). Erni initiated the Museum’s façade series with large-scale installations, including the LED work by Clifford Ross (2017); neon works by MARTIN CREED: Work No. 2210: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT (2021) and Remember Me (2022) by Hank Willis Thomas; and JR’s Les Enfants d’Ouranos (2023). Erni pioneered multi-media projects, such as OptoSonic Tea (2019), an immersive sound and projections performance with 20 artists; and new film, music, and conversation series. She is leading the overall strategy of the Dorothy Lichtenstein ArtsReach Fund, established by Agnes Gund, the Parrish’s initiative on art and social change. Erni was essential in securing a partnership with The Watermill Center for its Inga Maren Otto Fellowship, a month-long residency hosting artists who show at the Parrish, which included Barthélémy Toguo (2018), Lucien Smith (2019), Tomashi Jackson (2021), and Hank Willis Thomas and For Freedoms (2022).

Prior to the Parrish, Erni led the Ideas City initiative at the New Museum in New York City, a collaborative, civic, and creative platform exploring the future of cities with arts and culture as driving forces (2010-2015); and in 2006 she co-founded ARTPORT_making waves, a seminal international organization on art and climate change responsible for the exhibition (Re-) Cycles of Paradise at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

Earlier, Erni produced international arts festivals in New York City, including Extremely Hungary, European Dream, and Swiss Peaks. A native of Switzerland, Erni is fluent in six languages and holds a master’s in journalism, cultural reporting, and criticism from New York University.

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