YINKA SHONIBARE, CBE Air Kid (Boy), 2020 Fibreglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, globe, brass, steel baseplate, umbrella 41 x 31 1/2 x 58 1/4 in 104 x 80 x 148 cm

Free admission (all visitors, all hours)


James Cohan is pleased to present “Earth Kids,” an exhibition of new sculptures by Yinka Shonibare CBE, on view from December 4 through January 23 at the gallery’s Lower East Side location at 291 Grand Street. This is the artist’s seventh solo exhibition at James Cohan. To book an appointment to view the exhibition, please click here.

Yinka Shonibare CBE mines the past to speak of the present. Rachel Kent, Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, explains that Shonibare engages with, “history and its legacy for future generations, of how we live in the present, and of cycles or patterns that repeat across time despite their often destructive consequences. In this way he pricks the consciences of those who encounter his art, using beauty and seduction instead of words as his chosen weapons.”

In Earth Kids, Shonibare makes a connection between the history of colonial domination and humankind’s domination of the natural world and exploitation of its limited resources. The quartet of child-scaled sculptures champion the next generation of environmentalists fighting for climate justice—including young activists, such as Greta Thunberg—who have thrown a spotlight on the failings of previous generations of policy makers. These works, Shonibare states, are a call to action to protect the planet for our children.

Each of the four sculptures in Earth Kids represent an elemental force: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. These classical elements were believed by the Ancient Greeks to illustrate the complexity of the natural world. The artist has been making work about the elements and climate change since 2008, when he created a series called Globe Children in which children were precariously balanced on a large heat-map globe. These sculptures were followed in 2010 by the Four Elements for an exhibition at the Israel Museum, and in 2015 Shonibare presented Rage of the Ballet Gods at James Cohan, an exhibition of three bodies of work about the crisis—Ballet Gods, Refugee Astronaut and Butterfly Kids.