Nayland Blake

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Nayland Blake
Nayland Blake.jpg
OccupationArtist and Educator
Notable credit(s)
Feeder 2 , Starting Over

Nayland Blake is an American artist whose focus is on interracial attraction, same-sex love, and intolerance of the prejudice toward them. Their mixed-media work has been variously described as disturbing, provocative, elusive, tormented, sinister, hysterical, brutal, and tender.[1][2][3]


Nayland Blake attended Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, B.F.A. from 1978–82 and then moved to California. They attended the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, M.F.A., from 1982–84.[4]

Since at least 2017, Blake has opted to use “they/them” pronouns, a decision that they explained was made partly in solidarity with those whose gender expression does not fit a binary, as well as a nod to their own hybrid racial and sexual identity.[5][6]


Nayland Blake began displaying their work in 1985. Among their most famous pieces are a log cabin made of gingerbread squares fitted to a steel frame, entitled Feeder 2 (1998). When it went on display at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, visitors furtively nibbled off bits and pieces of the cabin's interior walls, while the smell of the gingerbread filled the gallery.[7] Another well-known work is Starting Over (2000), a video of the artist dancing with taps on their shoes in a bunny suit made to weigh the same as his partner at the time. The suit was so heavy that Blake could hardly move as they took choreographic directions from offstage.[8]

Gorge (1998) is a video of the artist sitting shirtless being hand-fed an enormous amount of food for an hour by a shirtless black man from behind.[9] In 2009, a live version of Gorge was staged in which audience members fed Blake.[9]

Their work often incorporates themes of masochism.[9] Gorge follows two other major threads of Blake's work: their biracial heritage—the artist's father was black—and their pansexuality.[10]

Blake has had solo museum exhibition at the Tang Museum and was included in the 1991 Whitney Biennial and that museum's infamous Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art exhibition in 1994.[11] Maura Riley curated a retrospective of 30 years of Blake's art, "Behavior," which was presented in late 2008–early 2009 at Location One in New York City.[12]

In October 2017 Nayland Blake participated in the performance series Crossing Object (inside Gnomen)[13] hosted by the New Museum in Manhattan (2017–18). Nayland Blake dressed as Gnomen, a bear-bison creature Blake created as their "fursona".[14] The New Museum described that Gnomen "can change sex and gender" while the furry suit represents Blake's hybrid identity.

In 2018 Nayland curated "Tag: Proposals on Queer Play And The Ways Forward"[15] at Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

Their work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Des Moines Art Center, among others.[16] They are represented by the Matthew Marks Gallery, and currently lives and works in New York City.

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

Select Publications[edit]

  • Nayland Blake, Behavior. New York : Location One [2009], with essays by Maura Reilly.[21]
  • Nayland Blake, Surfaced. London : MOCA, [2008?][22]
  • Nayland Blake, Also also also rises the sun. Calgary Alta., Canada : No Press, 2008[23]
  • Nayland Blake, Nayland Blake: some kind of love: performance video 1989-2002 / Ian Berry ; with an essay by David Deitcher. Saratoga Springs, N.Y. : The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, 2003.[24]
  • In a different light : visual culture, sexual identity, queer practice / edited by Nayland Blake, Lawrence Rinder, Amy Scholder. San Francisco : City Lights Books, 1995.[25]
  • Nayland Blake, Nayland Blake: Hare Attitudes. Houston : Contemporary Arts Museum, 1996.[26]
  • Nayland Blake, The Library of Babel. Buffalo, N.Y. : Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 1991.[27]
  • Nayland Blake, Brains: The journal of egghead sexuality. San Francisco : B. Works, 1990.[28]

Public collections[edit]


  • Artist's blog[35]
  • Blake, N., Rinder, L., and Scholder, A. (1995)In a different light. San Francisco, CA: City Light Books.[36]


  1. ^ Valdez, Sarah: "Nayland Blake at Matthew Marks"; Art in America, 2004 September
  2. ^ Rush, Michael: "Nayland Blake at Mattche Marks"; Art in America, 2000 September
  3. ^ Davies, Lillian: "Nayland Blake" (PDF).[permanent dead link]; Artforum, July 20, 2006.
  4. ^ "Matthew Marks Gallery".
  5. ^ Subcultural Treasures, Art in America, Brian Droitcour, May 1, 2018.
  6. ^ "Overcoming Daily Life with Nayland Blake’s Daily Drawings", Hyperallergic, Louis Bury, December 14, 2017
  7. ^ Blake, Nayland (January 2003), Some Kind of Love: Performance Video 1989-2002, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum, ISBN 978-0-9708790-9-7
  8. ^ Carr, C. (2000-04-18), "Bunny Hop", Village Voice, retrieved 2009-09-28
  9. ^ a b c Altman, Joshua (January 2009), "Nayland Blake @ Location One", Whitehot Magazine
  10. ^ Johnson, Paddy: "The Guys We Would Fuck: An Interview with Nayland Blake"; Art Fag City, June 24, 2008.
  11. ^ Hood, Carra Leah: "Nayland Blake's 'Invisible Man'"; Yale Journal of Criticism. vol. 8, no. 2 (1995), pp. 131–147.
  12. ^ Hirsch, Faye (February 2009), "Nayland Blake: Location One", Art in America[dead link]
  13. ^ "Nayland Blake: Crossing Object (inside Gnomen)".
  14. ^ "Fursona". wikipedia. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward - ICA Philadelphia". Institute of Contemporary Art - Philadelphia, PA. November 29, 2017.
  16. ^ Hawley, John C. (ed.), LGBTQ America Today: An Encyclopedia, Greenwood Press, 2008
  17. ^ "Nayland Blake: FREE!LOVE!TOOL!BOX!", Yerba Buena.
  18. ^ "Opener 3: Nayland Blake: Some Kind of Love — Performance Video, 1989-2002", Past Exhibitions | 2003, Tang.
  19. ^ "Nayland Blake: Hare Attitudes" (January 12–February 25, 1996), CAMH.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Worldcat. OCLC 316067146.
  22. ^ Worldcat. OCLC 572840737.
  23. ^ worldcat. OCLC 244007876.
  24. ^ Worldcat. OCLC 55968713.
  25. ^ worldcat. OCLC 785273908.
  26. ^ Worldcat. OCLC 36724514.
  27. ^ Worldcat. OCLC 27142636.
  28. ^ worldcat. OCLC 84648267.
  29. ^ Nayland Blake, "Negative Bunny" in America is Hard to See, permanent collection inaugural exhibition of New Whitney.
  30. ^ Nayland Blake Archived 2015-09-15 at the Wayback Machine, Orange County Museum of Art.
  31. ^ Nayland Blake, MoCA, Los Angeles.
  32. ^ Nayland Blake, MoMA.
  33. ^ The museum holds, besides other works by Blake, the painting Made with pride by a Queen. Blake combined here a drawing by the German artist Fedor Flinzer with a phrase he wrote and laid out in type. Flinzer’s illustration was originally published on page 186 in the second volume of the Deutsche Jugend from 1873.
  34. ^ "The Collection". Retrieved 2016-11-03.
  35. ^ Artist's blog
  36. ^ Blake, Nayland, ed. (1995). In a different light : visual culture, sexual identity, queer practice (00. ed.). San Francisco: City Lights Books. ISBN 087286300X.

External links[edit]