We recently met artist Noga Cohen, whose impact is clearly felt far beyond her participation in the group exhibit, “Sign of Frankenstein” at Amos Eno Gallery where we crossed paths. It became apparent through our dialogue that her role in the New York arts community is something to be explored further. Cohen’s ties to many incredible organizations and galleries throughout New York City intrigued us, and we sat down together to learn more about her accomplishments, interests, collaborators and future projects.
Lead image: Photo credit, Farah Mohammad.
ANTE Mag. You moved directly to New York City to attend Columbia upon acceptance to their MFA program in 2019. What has being resilient as an artist living in NYC during Covid looked like for you?
Noga Cohen. I moved to New York City in 2019, just a few months before Covid. To cope with the uncertainty and sense of urgency I felt at the time, I tried to use my skills and knowledge to help others and create meaningful interactions through art and art education. I was invited by a fellow artist and curator, Farah Mohammad, to teach and take part in designing the curriculum of an independent online art program called “The Drawing Exchange”. The program took place during the summer of 2020, and was supported by Alpha Art Alliance. It offered arts programming children living in East Brooklyn, who didn’t have access to formal art education during lockdown. I taught a series of online collage classes and formed relationships with other art educators and children who were dealing with different challenges.
At the time, while not having access to my studio, I had to restructure my art practice and find new ways to express myself. I work mainly in sculpture, installation, and photography, and had to shift the ways I make work. Through the relationships with my students, I discovered new ways to be creative and work within the limitations of our new post-Covid reality. In 2020, writing has been a cathartic ritual that helped me gain awareness of my dynamic art practice and a way to connect to other artists and writers in a time of isolation. I was invited to contribute work to an online show and art publication hosted by the Philadelphia-based organization Tiger Strikes Asteroid. The project, called “Lines Inside”, was a group exhibition of writings by New York-based artists. The editors were Lizzy De Vita and Roni Aviv. Most of the work was created and compiled into a publication during Covid, and this collection of work reflects the sudden changes that we were experiencing at the time – mirroring my own adjustments during the period.
ANTE. This past year you have stayed involved in organizing panels, exhibitions and volunteering in Arts Education. Can you share some of these accomplishments with us?
NC. Absolutely. Art education is a big part of my practice, and being involved in this field has been deeply rewarding and fulfilling for me. I was honored to be invited to Hofstra University as a visiting artist this year and spend a day leading a panel discussion, a lecture, and a Q&A about my practice, giving thorough end-of-the-year show reviews, and having studio visits with students. The discussion panel was led collaboratively with the head of the visual arts department, Jim Lee. We discussed how questions of identity and self-discovery come up in an art education setting and in the process of preparing for art school’s final exhibition. ays been interesting to me as an arts education professional.
Earlier this year, while participating in a show at Amos Eno Gallery in Brooklyn, I initiated and organized a closing reception that included a discussion panel. The panel was open to the public and led by fellow artist Adi Rejto and me, and involved other artists who participated in the show. It was interesting to discuss ideas of accumulations of time and moments in painting and sculpture presented in the show, and have an open Q&A with the gallery visitors.
Also, I am excited to join as a board member of UCAE (The University Council for Art Education) in the upcoming year. I’m thrilled to be a part of an amazing educational organization that brings together art educators, artists, and social practitioners through open-table discussions, lectures, and panels.
ANTE. Your artistic practice has also benefited from the NYFA Immigrant Artists mentorship program. Was this a competitive process for inclusion, and what are some benefits you received from this opportunity?
NC. I discovered an incredible and diverse community at the NYFA Immigrant Artist mentorship program. The program brings together ambitious artists, creatives, and filmmakers in different stages of their careers, who share the experience of immigration. The artists I’ve met through this program come from different places and backgrounds and were able to offer different perspectives on the question of what it means to be an international artist in New York. Through access to other international artists in New York who are dealing with unique challenges, we’ve built a strong and supportive community. During the 6-month long program, I got to participate in panels, group activities, lectures, and workshops, and connect with artists from all over the world. It was reassuring to realize that we have a lot in common and can use our knowledge and experience to contribute and help others.
At the culmination of our experience, we exhibited our work together at the New York Live Arts gallery and got to work with three amazing curators who made thoughtfully informed curatorial decisions to create the final exhibition. I am currently working with my NYFA international artists cohort on independent curatorial projects, in collaboration with alumni and mentors of the program.
ANTE. How do you maintain your dedication to the greater New York City artist community today?
NC. I stay connected to a community of artists I collaborate with regularly, who are located both in New York City and internationally. For example, in 2021 I was picked to exhibit my work in an international online show curated by Iksong Jin, a curator and artist based in South Korea. The show included artists from all over the world, and the group has been dedicated to exhibiting together in person. This summer, I’ll be exhibiting new work among my fellow international artists at RIVAA (Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association) Gallery. It has become a tradition that we get together and publish a catalog of our most recent works.
Last year, I was included in another exhibition featuring incredible international artists at Project Gallery V. The show was entitled “Time Won’t TellI” and it was curated by Farah Mohammad – again. The gallery is a Brooklyn-based online space run by two women artists/entrepreneurs. I feel grateful to collaborate with artist-run spaces, especially ones founded by young artists and curators. I find online spaces to be a great resource for reaching audiences all over the world and connecting with people.
ANTE. This past year along with teaching as an adjunct professor at Columbia University you have exhibited regularly. What are some of the shows your work has been presented in?
NC. Last year I participated in an independent curatorial project organized by a group of New York based artists that took place in a space granted to us generously by ChaShama. The show, curated by Junni Chen and Owen Duffy, completely transformed an empty space on the Lower East side into a lively art space for one month. I showed two sculptures I made using plastic and trash, in a unique process I used to activate gravity, and the passage of time, in addition to using high heat.
Also, I feel grateful for having been included in two wonderful group shows at Amos Eno Gallery, an artist-run space located in Brooklyn in the past year. The most recent one, “Sign Of Frankenstein” curated by Robert McCann, consisted of work by New York-based artists reflecting on ideas of layering, memory, and practices of deconstruction. I showed one sculpture and a large wall installation, made out of recycled and repurposed materials, that speak to ideas of fragmentation and disconnection in relation to space and the human body.
I look forward to participating in another show at The Border Project Space this upcoming year, where I will be showing new artwork.