Art Insider Opens First Black-Owned Gallery In NYC's Chelsea Neighborhood

Closing out the month of May, art insider Nicola Vassell made history as she opened her own gallery in New York's exclusive Chelsea neighborhood. It is not only her first time owning a gallery, but it is also the first Black-owned gallery in the area.

“It’s time for a Black-owned gallery to inhabit the art world in New York in a really strong dynamic way," Vassell told Artlyst.

The first exhibit at the Nicola Vassell Gallery highlights the 50-year career of esteemed photographer Ming Smith. Throughout the gallery, visitors can view shots of Harlem and portraits of Grace Jones. Vassell told Artlyst that each piece offers insight into “Ming’s magical realm.” The "Ming Smith: Evidence" exhibition is set to run from May 20 until July 3.

Vassell is a Jamaican-born art insider who arrived in the Big Apple at the age of 16 years old. She attended New York University and found her way into the art world after dabbling in the model industry. She earned her first gig at the Deitch Gallery in Los Angeles, California and worked alongside Kehinde Wiley and Tauba Auerbach. Since then, she has worked her way into opportunities at the Pace Gallery, spoken at Sotheby's Institute of Art and served as the curatorial director of the Dean Collection for Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys. Having worked in the predominantly white industry for more than a decade, she is now looking to bring in a new perspective with her gallery.

“I want to agitate, create frisson. Black people are not the natural inheritors of certain kinds of spaces," she told Cultured Magazine.

"I’m planting a flag and making a declaration.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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