With the holiday season upon us and the pandemic arguably at its height, it’s only natural to reminisce about times when it was easier to get together with family and friends. Seeing as many of those longed-for reunions will necessarily be deferred, holiday cards stand to mean more than ever. And so T asked five artists to create original card designs, all of which are available to download (and then print and send — we recommend A2-size envelopes) at the bottom of this article. The works draw from a wide range of inspirations, from dreams to Icelandic folklore to the recent U.S. presidential election, but, at the end of what’s been a rather gray year, they all offer a bit of color.
Khari Johnson-Ricks (work pictured above)
“This pixel-based work is a combination of drawing and digital collage. It’s a portrait of me and my cat, Fig, sitting on my couch. In caring for my home and cat, I’ve found some vague sense of agency over my life amid the physical separation from friends and family. I hope this image inspires you to be present when you can, with whomever might be around, even if it’s just yourself.”
Khari Johnson-Ricks is a New Jersey-based multimedia artist whose work wrestles with life’s everyday challenges. Next year, a mural of his will be included as part of a public arts project curated by Jeffrey Cheung at the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia, and an exhibition of his work will be on view at Los Angeles’s Night Gallery.
“For this digital collage, which is part of my ‘Antennas to Ancestors’ series, I manipulated the colors to render an imagined muhacha tree in the foreground fluorescent green. The muhacha is one of the most sacred trees in Zimbabwe. Traditionalists and spiritual mediums describe it as an antenna that connects the Shona to their ancestors, or Vadzimu. The series is also an ode to Shavi, the alien spirits that influenced most Shona sculptors from mid-1900s to the 1980s.”
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami is a painter whose work addresses themes of diaspora, displacement and identity. Born in Zimbabwe, she is currently based in London, where she’s completing an M.F.A. at the Ruskin School of Art. Her work will be included in the group exhibition “The Power of My Hands” at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris next year, and in “Ubuntu: A Lucid Dream” at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
“This is the fifth painting in my ‘Café Creole’ series, which began in 2016 and looks at a single building, formerly a restaurant with an artist’s mural painted by Serge Toussaint on its facade, in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood and, more broadly, at how commercial decisions were being made there. I’m documenting places and moments and asking what change looks like. I noticed a Biden-Harris sign in the building’s window about two months ago, and it got me thinking about how aspects of this year gave a lot of people a newfound appreciation for hope and collective action.”
Eddie Arroyo is a painter who lives in Miami, where he is represented by Spinello Projects. The previous four works in his “Café Creole” series appeared in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Currently, his work is on view as part of “Alien Nations 2020,” a group exhibition at the Lehman College Art Gallery in New York put on in collaboration with the Coral Gables Museum in Florida.
Of this watercolor, ink and charcoal work that depicts an animal resting its paw on a kneeling figure, the artist said only one word: “peace.”
Florian Krewer is a painter of dreamscapes. Born in Germany, he is currently based in New York. An exhibition of his work, “Eyes on Fire,” is on view across two locations in Manhattan, Michael Werner Gallery and Tramps, through February 2021.
“I based this gouache and chalk pastel drawing on the 17th-century Icelandic holiday folklore of the mischievous Yuul lads, who each do something naughty. Here, I’ve made them lassies: the sausage stealer and the spoon licker. They bring potatoes to bad children and candy to the good. Their parents’ menacing black cat hunts those that misbehave.”
Natalie Frank’s work reimagines fairy tales through a feminist lens. In 2019, her book “Tales of the Brothers Grimm” (2015) inspired a collaboration with Ballet Austin. Another, “The Island of Happiness: Tales of Madame d’Aulnoy,” is forthcoming from Princeton University Press, and a survey of her work will debut at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin in June of next year. She is based in Brooklyn.