Jenni Crain, an up-and-coming New York–based artist, curator, and dealer, has died at 30. According to her New York gallery, Gordon Robichaux, Crain died on December 16 of sudden Covid-related complications.
Crain wore many hats, working in galleries, institutions, and in her own studio. Much of her curatorial work had been dedicated to upholding the legacies of women artists. In 2020, for Midway Contemporary Art gallery in Minneapolis, she organized an exhibition about Tee A. Corinne, who created solarized photographs of women in various sexual and romantic states. And for the forthcoming Carnegie International exhibition, she was at work on a text about Kate Millett, whose feminist writings focused on the patriarchy and power.
In her sculptures, Crain offered up objects resembling dysfunctional decor items or pieces of furniture. These sleek, minimal forms were intended to reorient the ways that viewers understood the space surrounding them. She had exhibited them at 321 Gallery, Baba Yaga, and Gordon Robichaux, among other venues, and is set to have shows in 2022 at Gordon Robichaux and Kerry Schuss gallery.
Born in 1991 in New York, Crain had been poised for a rise in the curatorial world. In 2020, she was a curatorial fellow at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, and this year, she obtained an M.A. in curatorial studies from CCS Bard in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where she recently did a thesis show about Millett.
Prior to focusing on her curatorial endeavors, she had gained experience running art spaces and galleries. In 2014, with Brent Birnbaum, she founded Topless, a scrappy Rockaway Beach gallery that she continued to direct through 2016. Between 2016 and 2019, she was a director at Kaufmann Repetto gallery in New York. This year, she became a director of Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York.
“She formed immeasurable, lifelong bonds with those she worked and collaborated with, and touched all who knew her with her radiant joy, generosity, kindness, intelligence, nurturing spirit, and boundless energy,” Gordon Robichaux wrote in its announcement. “She will be missed by all who knew her.”