Alicia Brown | Coming to ‘Merica: Invasive Species

Artists: Alicia Brown

Exhibition Information:

September 7, 2023 - November 4, 2023
Opening Reception:
September 14, 2023
Artist in attendance
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Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York is excited to announce Coming to ’Merica: Invasive Species, a series of new figurative paintings by Jamaican American artist, Alicia Brown. Through striking portraits imbued with rich colors, precious gems, and lush flora, Brown subtly explores the tension and beauty of the immigrant experience in America.

Brown focuses her portraiture on family members, who like her, immigrated to America from Jamaica. Her portraits celebrate the creativity of immigrants seeking to fit into a new culture while still maintaining their own identity. While America is often pictured as a “promised land” to outsiders, it is not often clear what is promised. In Brown’s experience, America was an idea of a place to transform—an idea that was challenged when she arrived in the States. In this series, she considers the nuanced balance and conflict of fitting in, and the impossibility of total assimilation.

Natural flora features prominently in this series, serving as a symbol of Brown’s native Jamaica. There is a dichotomy in the natural world that Brown explores. Depending on their use, plants can be medicinal or poisonous.  As invasive species, they can be destructive but also enhance a landscape. Plants adapt and mimic in order to survive and thrive in a new environment. The encroaching jungle that enters into many of Brown’s portraits reminds us that humans are also part of nature and employ similar creative tactics of adaptation.

Brown draws inspiration from art history, and parallels to Dutch Master portraiture can be found in the figures’ poses, their ruff collars, and material wealth that surrounds the subjects. These details draw connections through the history of the Caribbean and the colonial practices that generated this wealth. With subjects dressed in everyday clothes, Brown uses rich, symbolic colors such as the gold of religious iconography, deep blues of royalty, and reds and oranges of aristocracy. Here again, Brown plays with the idea of a promised land of wealth and riches, and its contrast with lived experience.

Many small details encourage close looking and exploration of the connections Brown makes between nature, history, art, culture and subculture, wealth, power, and social class. Her work is a celebration of beauty, resistance, and creativity among nature and humanity.

Alicia Brown received a BFA in Painting, and a diploma in Art Education from Edna Manley College of the Visual Performing Arts and an MFA in Painting from the New York Academy of Art in 2014. Primarily a figurative painter, Brown’s practice examines the concept of mimicry found in nature and applies it to the human world, elaborating on the historical tensions of colonization, appropriation, class and self-agency. Referencing the history of portraiture her work incorporates both traditional and contemporary paint languages addressing the notions of adaptation, visibility, and hybridity as they relate to formation of identity.