Nina Chanel Abney Imagines a Queer Black Utopia

The artist Nina Chanel Abney, photographed in her studio in Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Donavon Smallwood.

When artist Nina Chanel Abney felt constricted by the lockdown measures in New Jersey over the course of this year, she planned solo excursions into nature to alleviate some of the stress. These outings served as partial inspiration for a new body of work in which Abney dreams up Black queer utopias in idyllic rural imaginaries that exist outside of the White gaze. In this feature by Erica Rawles for the New York Times, the author speaks with Abney about her new creations and how they explore themes of Black social life and spaces of autonomy and leisure for these subjects.

“Rather than engaging directly with the news cycle, Abney offers a parallel story of sanctuary and community via abstracted landscapes across which Black people build and enjoy a world of their collective making — figures cycle, pick flowers, chop wood, bake a pie and feed chickens.” - Erica Rawles