‘Build the world anew’ Saya Woolfalk heats up Frieze Los Angeles

World-famous artist debuts brand new mural with Yieldstreet 

In November 2018, the New York-based multi-disciplinary artist, Saya Woolfalk, stood before an audience during a TED Talk and posed a series of questions. “What kind of world do you want to live in?” she wondered. “If you had the chance to build the world anew, what would it look like?” 

It was Albert Einstein who once said that no problem could be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. Problem solving, in other words, required a fundamental shift in perspective. And what Woolfalk soon offered those before her, was a deeply considered shift she’d spent nearly two decades rendering. She offered them a portal into an empathic universe.  

Woolfalk is an artist perpetually engaged in the notion of hybridity. Her immersive installations of imaginary and futuristic worlds transport viewers into a liminal space that at once occupies the past, present, and future. She is researcher, interlocutor, and performer—her explosively colorful aesthetic fearlessly zigzagging the mediums of sculpture, painting, video, papermaking, and textile work that was informed by time spent in Japan, where her maternal grandmother taught her to sew (Woolfalk mostly grew up in Westchester, New York. She is of African American, European American, and Japanese descent.) 

Learn about Yieldstreet’s Art Equity Fund II

Artwork by Saya Woolfalk commissioned by ArtWorks Cincinnati
Artwork by Saya Woolfalk commissioned by ArtWorks Cincinnati

In Woolfalk’s ongoing series entitled The Empathics, she has conceptualized an “interspecies hybridization” that is part-plant, part-human, and imbued with the ability to change gender and color, and transform waste into usable technologies. “I’m really interested in forcing people to look at something and then having them no longer assume that that object is stable. I’m trying to force the instability of an object so that we can really look at it, question and figure out what exactly is going on,” Woolfalk has said. 

For centuries, mankind has anthropologically assessed the origin and development of cultures, and Woolfalk, who studied philosophy, theories of race and ethnicity, and gender/sexuality studies at Brown University, uses ethnographic methods, folklore, and museum-display techniques to play with the notion of what it means to be human. Take, for example, the Institute of Empathy installation she re-constructed in the Montclair Art Museum in 2012. In it, the empathic species is presented much like other ancient civilizations at the Museum of Natural History. Artifacts like ‘Hides and Sheds from North American Empathics,’ which are crafted from linen, cotton pulp, rhinestones, and plastic bones, can be seen on display with life-sized, realistically rendered mannequins. 

“[My hope is that] the worlds we build—the things that we imagine—give us access to openness, to empathy, to future-forward imagining so that we might be able to imagine a new world,” Woolfalk has said. 

Her work has been exhibited at PS1/MoMA, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Performa 9, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, and in public spaces including Times Square. Now, in advance of her newest piece, a mural created for Yieldstreet that will be presented on February 18 during Frieze Los Angeles, the artist sheds some light on her process and the importance of investing in the arts community. 

Learn More About Alternatives

Saya Woolfalk’s photo courtesy of Ka-Man Tse for @TSqArts

How helpful is this content?

Share this article:

Join a community of 400,000+ members

  • Gain access to unique offerings previously reserved for the ultra-wealthy

  • Customize your portfolio for income, growth, or a balance of both

What investors are saying about Yieldstreet

Apr 2022

The due diligence, risk management, and product education materials are thorough, excellent, and easy to use and understand.

Manoj J
Member since 2019
Apr 2022

Excellent and unique selections that I can't find elsewhere.

Jonathan S
Member since 2019
Apr 2022

The platform delivers in a very concise manner. Easy to get a clear understanding at a glance from the web or mobile app.

Tim S
Member since 2021
The testimonials presented on this page have been provided by actual investors in Yieldstreet funds without compensation. Yieldstreet has selected the testimonials, and certain testimonials have been edited to remove personally identifiable information and for brevity. Testimonials were not selected based on objective or random criteria, but rather were selected based on Yieldstreet's understanding of its relationship with the providers of the testimonials. The uncompensated testimonials presented here may not be representative of other investors' experiences, and there can be no guarantee that investors will experience future performance or success consistent with the testimonials presented.

The Yield

Our weekly podcast providing ideas about how to make money work for you and bring you closer to your dreams.

Since inception, over $2.8B has been invested on Yieldstreet

Join today for free to access alternative investment opportunities.