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MAD Announces Jes Fan: No Clearance in Niche A New Solo Exhibition Exploring Gender, Identity and Otherness

Presented as the inaugural exhibition of Fellow Focus, a new series featuring the work of alumni of the Museum’s Van Lier Arts Fellowship

New York, NY (March 1, 2017)

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is pleased to present Jes Fan: No Clearance in Niche, running from March 2 through April 30. This marks the inaugural installation of Fellow Focus, an ongoing exhibition series highlighting the work of alumni of the Van Lier Arts Fellowship at MAD. Funded by the New York Community Trust and introduced to the Museum by its Education Department in 2016, the fellowship provides talented, culturally underrepresented rising artists with financial support and a dedicated studio at MAD for full-time use over four months.

“Giving our fellows the chance to conceive, design, install, and open an exhibition at the conclusion of their residency allows them to publicly test out new ideas in a supportive, education-focused atmosphere,” said curator Danny Orendorff, MAD’s Manager of Public and Community Engagement Programs. “This is a natural extension of the Van Lier Fellowship’s objective.”

Fan’s objects and drawings explore transgender identity, body modification, and self-determination. Critical of stereotypes and hierarchies, Fan’s paradoxical creations greet viewers as riddles, inspiring complex meditations on the conventions and inventions of gender. On view will be a number of the artist’s playful, poetic works, such as T4T (2016), a limp pink silicone dumbbell, and Testo-soap (2016) and Testo-candle (2016), testosterone-infused objects. The exhibition will also present new drawings done on gum rubber and a photography series, “Soft Goods,” which shows a performer slipping into and falling out of a pair of prosthetic silicone slippers of Fan’s creation.

“The material sensibility of the work speaks to plasticity and malleability, which I use as an allegory about the fluidity of identity categories,” Fan said. “‘No Clearance in Niche’ comes from a warning sign in the New York subway system that marks tunnels that don’t meet the MTA’s current clearance standards. Migrating between binary genders, my body is constantly seeking clearance in passing—and not passing—the two options offered.”

Presented in the Museum’s sixth-floor Project Space, an area designated for spotlighting emerging artists and designers, all Fellow Focus exhibitions will showcase work produced by Van Lier Fellows while in residence at MAD. The installations will be accompanied by artist talks and workshops.


A Brooklyn-based artist born in Canada and raised in Hong Kong, Jes Fan holds a BFA in Glass from Rhode Island School of Design. Fan’s transdisciplinary practice is based on a material inquiry into otherness as it relates to identity politics. Fan is the recipient of various fellowships and residencies, such as the Van Lier Fellowship at the Museum of Arts and Design; the Pioneer Works visual arts residency; the CGCA Fellowship at Wheaton Arts; and the John A. Chironna Memorial Scholarship at RISD. Fan has exhibited in the United States and internationally; selected exhibitions include Whereabouts at GlazenHuis Museum, Lommel, Belgium; Material Location at Agnes Varis Gallery, New York; Ot(her) at Brown University’s Sarah Doyle Gallery, Providence, Rhode Island; and Remembering Something That Doesn’t Have a Name at Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia.


The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields, presenting artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill to their work. Since the Museum’s founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum’s curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design, and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving twenty-first-century innovation, fostering a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design. The Museum will be celebrating its Diamond Jubilee 60th Anniversary this year.

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