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Andrew Kreps Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by Andrea Bowers at 22 Cortlandt Alley.

Bowers’ ongoing dialogues with activists are central to the development of her work. This new project draws on her relationship with Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice and staff attorney with the ACLU, who Bowers first met in 2015 when Strangio was lead council for Chelsea Manning. Bowers was immediately taken by Strangio's combination of brilliance and empathy, and work as a prominent activist who has been advocating for transgender rights in the United States for over a decade. This exhibition is the result of Bowers’ longtime desire to collaborate with Strangio, and celebrate his activism.

In March of 2023, Strangio invited Bowers to document a creative action, the first Trans Youth Prom, which took place in Washington D.C. on May 22, 2023. Organized by the teen activists Daniel Trujillo, Libby Gonzales, Grayson McFerrin, and Hobbes Chukumba, alongside Strangio and collaborating adult organizer Peppermint, the event gathered teens and their families from around the United States. The event began as a celebration based on the prototypical American prom at the Capitol Reflecting Pool and followed by a parade to the steps of the Supreme Court. In contrast to many American proms, where trans and non-binary youth have been banned from participation and freedom of expression, the Trans Youth Prom offered a safe space for attending youth to share in each other’s joy and build community for them and their families.

The event’s joyful spirit documented in Bowers' new video extends to a series of neon-based sculptures hung on the walls and ceilings of the gallery. Each containing a revolving disco ball, they are adorned with ornate neon floral wreaths and slogans including “Come As You Are” and “You Are Loved”, adopted from signs and posters from the day’s events, and throw vividly colored light throughout the exhibition space.

Bowers’ new works in acrylic on cardboard combine illustrations of real people in fantastic floral compositions based on her photos of California plants native to the region where she lives and works. The scale shifts create narratives that subtly question our assumptions of what is “natural” and honor the pleasure of the bodies we live in. The artist thinks of these works as metaphoric, orgasmic celebrations of femme identity.

The exuberant tone which fills the main gallery is contrasted by the harsh reality displayed in an installation at the gallery’s Cortlandt Alley entrance. Binders for each of the fifty States contain legislation introduced since 2021 that represent the continuing escalation of attacks on trans lives. Totaling over 1000 bills thus far, in addition to over 60 nationally introduced bills, they function as an urgent reminder of the bravery of these youths, to seek self-determination, community, and acceptance in a moment in which their own survival is at stake.

Since the 1990s, Andrea Bowers has combined artistic practice with advocacy, in a body of work that spans drawing, performance, installation, sculpture, and video. Functioning as a chronicler of contemporary political history, as well as a participant, and witness, Bowers takes an intersectional approach, developing her projects alongside activists, and employs craft, her own labor, and aesthetics to both honor and show respect to the issues and people presented. From 2021 to 2022, an extensive survey exhibition of Bowers’ work was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, which traveled to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include: Moving in Space without Asking Permission, Fondazione Furla and GAM – Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan, Italy, 2022, Grief and Hope, Abteiberg Museum, Mönchengladbach, Germany, 2020, Light and Gravity, Weserburg Museum, Bremen, Germany, 2019, Climate Change is Real, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2019, Hammer Projects: Andrea Bowers, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2017, Womxn Workers of the World Unite!, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, 2017, #sweetjane, Pomona and Pitzer College Museum of Art, Claremont, 2014, and The Weight of Relevance, Wiener Secession, Vienna, traveled to The Power Plant, Toronto, 2007, among others. Bowers’ work is held in the permanent collections of The Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, MoMA, New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Tate Modern, London and Museum Abteiberg, Moenchengladbach, Germany, among others.