Staff Picks: 2024

By December 31, 2023

In this round up, Burnaway staff revisit some of our favorites from 2023 and what we are looking forward to in the cultural sphere for 2024.

Thew Smoak performing Cruising Theory in the mountains of North Carolina, wearing a tweed jacket and cotton pants ornamented with mirrors, 2023. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Favorite Pieces from Burnaway 2023

ADVERTISEMENT

Once Something Has Lived It Can Never Really Die: The Studio Education of the Junk House by Ronald Lockett at MARCH, New York

The writer told the story of Lockett’s work beautifully and succinctly. It’s a potent piece of writing. 

How a Hollywood Invasion Turned the South’s Capital into the Neutral American City

The author did that thing great writing does, she addressed something we all knew, but didn’t have the context or language to describe. 

Insider by Halle Ballard at Elephant Gallery, Nashville

Joy, play, and whimsy are the stuff of art writing too.

Digital Skin: Outlasting Reality in Jacolby Satterwhite’s We Are in Hell When We Hurt Each Other, Blaffer Art Museum, Houston

A feature that beautifully converges what it means to live in this hyper-technological age, cope with your own mortality, and attempt to preserve loved ones you lose and don’t want to forget.

Skybox by Harrison Wayne at Eso Tilin Projects, Atlanta

I love an exhibition set in an unconventional space—Kat’s review of Harrison Wayne’s exhibition within an Atlanta church spoke not only to the settings of my religious upbringing but the video games I was obsessed with playing as kid in the early 2000s.

a thread, unread

I miss my abuela, a grief I still carry two years after her passing. Ally Christmas’s mood ring on the loss of her own grandmother is haunting and memorializes how I will always feel: I am still your granddaughter even though you’re not here.

Something Bigger Than You: In Conversation with Calida Rawles

Bryn’s candid reflection of a memory that was sparked by looking at a Calida Rawles painting drew me in immediately in this interview with the Los-Angeles based artist, whose work aligns with my own beliefs that water is a therapeutic conduit for healing.

An Account, An Encounter

An engaging and fascinating story of Thew Smoak’s performance for one. I really enjoyed going on this ride.

Insider by Halle Ballard at Elephant Gallery, Nashville

Recovering Rivercane

Robert Alan Grand’s feature for Current on the crisis facing rivercane canopies and the good work of Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources was insightful, frustrating, and hopeful.

Once Something Has Lived It Can Never Really Die: The Studio Education of the Junk House by Ronald Lockett at MARCH, New York

Having had the chance to see Ronald Lockett’s work in New York, reading Justin’s review took me places I dared not say. I mean. “Other elephants in the room: Blackness (particularly in the South), poverty (particularly rural), morality, and isolation.” Layer upon layer.

How a Hollywood Invasion Turned the South’s Capital into the Neutral American City

Atlanta is a geography wanting to become a place. Claire cut through in describing Atlanta as America’s Vancouver (film people know what I mean). It’s one of the most read pieces on the site this year for a reason.

Tunnel Projects in Miami, Florida

There’s a certain fondness I have for project spaces. Isa’s review of Tunnel made me want to visit.

MengCheng’s Potluck

We tend to forget that the South is not the binary that popular history would want to tell you. Sophia’s piece covering the MengCheng collective is a needed reminder of the diasporas finding connection (as always, over food and art) in places like Memphis.

Ronald Lockett, Holocaust, 1989; enamel on wood panel, 48 by 48 by 3/4 inches. All images courtesy of MARCH and Cary Whittier.

Favorite Non-Burnaway Pieces of 2023

Track Changes: A Handbook for Art Criticism

I loved finding my way through this essential text. Wonderful entry from Burnaway contributors and friends as well as Editor at Large Kristina Kay Robinson.

Monica Sorelle Interviewed by Monica Uszerowicz

Monica is a dear friend and an incredible filmmaker. I’m in gratitude to being able to see her first directorial feature, Mountains, at Blackstar Film Festival in Philly this past August. This film is a strike back at those who just want to keep pushing and pushing you out of where you want to call home, where you find your people, where do you go when nothing around you looks like home anymore?

Why Do People Love This Tiny Doll?

They’re so cute and yet consumeristically eerie!

In Ron DeSantis’s Florida, What Can an Art Fair Mean?

A wonderful exploration of the economic and energy disconnect that happens continuously every year during Miami Art Week and what’s being done NOW by local artists and creatives to combat that disparity.

The sound of your voice

“In that contained space, floating in the digital world, I’m more able to be myself. It’s something about not being physically seen.” I agree—it’s like mini podcast episodes to my besties.

Scalawag Abolition Week: The Bars We Can’t See

Scalawag’s annual week work of first-hand stories from formerly and currently incarcerated writers and artists. This year’s theme “The Bars We Can’t See” was devoted to sharing stories that “trace the creative and pervasive ways carcerality finds us and traps us in the U.S. and across the globe.”

Ulysses Jenkins by Jareh Das

King Krule and his ‘nothingness of possessions’

I like King Krule, and this interview, conducted in his UK flat, makes me like him more.

Are We Asking Too Much of Public Art?

While I don’t entirely agree with Seph Rodney, there is a very essential question being asked. as the public changed over the past two decades, what purpose does public art hold? Are we serving the people, or our imagination of who the people are/should be?

Installation view of Paul Pfeiffer: Red Green Blue at The Athenaeum, University of Georgia, Athens. Photograph by Jason Thrasher and courtesy of The Athenaeum, University of Georgia, Athens.

Favorite Exhibition Viewed in 2023

The Threads We Follow at SECCA

This show was a stunner. The exhibition deftly showcased provocations in textile from local, regional, and national artists. Can’t wait to see more from SECCA’s new assistant curator, Maya Brooks. 

Julian Abraham “Togar”: Too good to be OK at SculptureCenter

I had an emotional reaction to this work. I felt the resonance, in sound and meaning, and I’m still thinking about it. 

Paul Pfeiffer, Red Green Blue at Athenaeum

As an admirer of Pfeiffer’s work, it was great to see this piece come to fruition in the place that it was made.

A Long Arc: Photography and the American South since 1845 at The High Museum of Art

When visiting Atlanta Art Week 2023, I spent about two hours just wandering around this exhibition. As a photographer myself, it was incredible to see the history of photography within the South and the lineage of artists practicing the medium into the present day.

Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

One of the exhibitions that stood out in terms of exploratory range during my travels to Washington D.C. in the Spring. From Prince to the writings of Octavia Butler, the accompanying exhibition catalog is replete with insightful essays and a deep-dive into everything Afrofuturism.

¡De última hora!: Latinas Report Breaking News at the National Museum of American History

I’m a news baby—both my parents have worked in broadcast news since their early twenties and continue to do so. Traveling to see this exhibition’s official opening with my mama in September and honoring / witnessing the work of Latinas like herself who have dedicated themselves to Spanish news filled my heart so much.

Sasha Gordon: Surrogate Self at ICA Miami

The attention to detail, the ghost hands and figures, the talented portrayals of multifaceted bodies. It’s so good and a must-see!

Jessica Caldas: Every Stage of Becoming at Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia

The Alchemists at Johnson Lowe Gallery

Correspondences at whitespace

Going Dark: The Contemporary Figure at the Edge of Visibility at The Guggenheim Museum

Ashley James and Faith Hunter mounted one of the best exhibitions of the year – there is a near-urgent, prescient reminder of the (projected) liminal nature of the work and the artists including Tomashi Jackson, Charles White, Kerry James Marshall, and Sable Elyse Smith within spaces that demand, but the undercurrent is noticed. 

Hasani Sahlehe: You Really Gotta See It Live at the Atlanta Contemporary

It was to see Hasani Sahlehe in conversation with Sam Gilliam, because there was again, a minor urgency to see the Gilliam’s subtle intensity against Sahlehe’s You Will See Me.

ADVERTISEMENT

Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich: Too Bright to See

It’s a common story – take the very popular artist, and you’ll find there was definitely someone else carrying the weight. In the case of Wifredo Lam and André Breton, it was Suzanne Roussi-Césaire. Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich’s work brings justice to the legacy of Roussi-Césaire with a poetry worthy of a best-of pick.

ICP Love Songs | Photography and Intimacy

a darker-skinned Black woman floating beneath cerulean waters, the figure wears a white dress and is positioned with head back and arms out stretched, their dress catching the light of every wave
Calida Rawles, Thy Name We Praise, 2023; acrylic on canvas. Courtesy the Terra Foundation for American Art and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, co-acquired in honor of Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., 10th President of Spelman College.

Looking Forward to in 2024

MURRMUR: BLURS AND SENSES (Feb 16, 2024 – Jun 9, 2024)

I love a good exhibition sequel. This second iteration of Misread Unread Read Re-Read Misread Unread Re-Read (MURRMUR) at the ICA at VCU promises to not disappoint.

Janet Planet

In text and performance, Annie Baker teaches me about silence. I look forward to seeing how the playwright turned director wields long pauses in film. This interview with Jeremy O. Harris further stoked my curiosity: Annie Baker is Coming to a Movie Theater Near You.

Rose Marie Cromwell: A Geological Survey

Big fan of local artists exhibiting at local museums, and of course, photography on top of it all.

Calida Rawles at PAMM

Enough said!

ZONAMACO México Arte Contemporáneo

Mexico City is always a good idea.

There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension By Hanif Abdurraqib

I saw Hanif speak for O, Miami’s opening night of their 2023 Poetry Festival and am excited to read this forthcoming poetic exploration of basketball.

Anything Eso Tilin Projects has in store.

Spandita Malik: MESHES OF RESISTANCE (April 5, 2024 – July 20, 2024)

Season 2 of The House of the Dragon.

Atlanta Art Week 2024!

I honestly couldn’t tell you – I’m taking the break to catch up on the rest of 2023.

Related Stories

In Conversation with Maya Brooks

Interviews
Robert Alan Grand speaks with curator Maya Brooks on her love for fiber arts and the dedicated curatorial work behind The Threads We Follow, on view at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina through March 10, 2024.