Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Kori Newkirk (American, b. 1970)

Gainer, 2006

Pony beads, nylon micro braids, and aluminum

85 x 143 1/4 42 in. (215.9 363.9 x 106.7 cm)

Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Joseph and Jory Shapiro Fund

By using materials frequently associated with contemporary African American fashion, including pony beads and styling pomade, Newkirk explores racial and economic stereotypes. Raised in suburban upstate New York, he challenges the idea of African American culture as exclusively urban or hip-hop oriented. Gainer, composed of pony-beaded curtains to create an image of a swimming pool, refers to a backward somersault dive into a pool. The rippling waves of an empty swimming pool suggest the trappings of white suburban middle-class life. Water, both potentially dangerous and soothing, recurs throughout Newkirk’s work, obscuring what lurks beneath its surface, whether sharks or racial stereotyping.