80 Washington Square East (80WSE) curator Howie Chen talks recent opportunities and future plans.
NYU Steinhardt’s art gallery, 80 Washington Square East, NYU (80WSE), had a banner year of successes in 2023, from releasing one of the Best Films of 2023 to garnering a $150,000 grant from the Teiger Foundation for a survey exhibition of Asian American art.
Founded in 1974, 80WSE is a not-for-profit gallery presenting contemporary and historical exhibitions, including annual MFA thesis exhibitions from students in the Department of Art and Art Professions and collaborations with various other departments at NYU Steinhardt. The main gallery is located in the historic Benedick Building, with exhibitions also displayed at Broadway Windows at Broadway and East 10th Street and at Washington Square Windows next to the gallery.
“Our gallery straddles multiple spaces and runs about 20 student shows a year with an additional four professional shows, so we are both university- and artworld-facing,” says Howie Chen, curator of 80WSE since 2022. “The idea for this overlap is that the professional shows bring attention to the level of academic programming that we’re producing at NYU Steinhardt, and adds value to the place that contemporary art holds here at the School.”
I want to plug the gallery into the larger landscape and speak to specific discourses—like contemporary art, academia, New York City, activism, representations of sexuality and gender, and politics of representation—and speak to them without losing specificity of each theme.
“When I started at 80WSE, I had an idea of the types of exhibitions I wanted to do and the touchpoints I wanted to hit,” says Chen. “I want to plug the gallery into the larger landscape and speak to specific discourses—like contemporary art, academia, New York City, activism, representations of sexuality and gender, and politics of representation—and speak to them without losing specificity of each theme.”
On display at 80WSE through February 3, 2024, Seasonal Affective is a collaboration with nonprofit Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI). The exhibition features rare and never-before-seen resonant video selections that evoke psychic intimacies of nature, color, sound, and movement to traverse autumnal and brumal time.
Next on the horizon, from February 3 through March 1, 2024, 80WSE will present an exhibition featuring materials from The Stephen Mass Papers, focusing on the legendary Mudd Club venue in New York City (1978-1983) through photographs and extensive notes. A collaboration with The Fales Library and Special Collections, this exhibition “looks back on a moment in which cultural life, fashion, and downtown society intersected with performance art, allowing us to use history to think indirectly about the present. The material produced against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1980s reflects the social, cultural, and even electoral uncertainty we are currently experiencing today,” says Chen.
The legendary filmmakers and video artist Charles Atlas, video synthesis pioneer Stephen Beck, and the collective, Forcefield, are among the artists highlighted in a collaboration between NYU Steinhardt and Electronic Arts Intermix.
From the Black roots of techno music to a modern take on allegory, NYU's art gallery is taking a socially-conscious and historic approach that aims to tackle "big questions" about society.
Founded in 1974, 80 Washington Square East, NYU is a not-for-profit gallery presenting contemporary and historical exhibitions.