Nina Chanel Abney Is Yuga Labs’s First ‘Punk in Residence’

The NFT company's new program invites artists to ponder: "What does punk mean to you?"

Nina Chanel Abney at "Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys" held at the Brooklyn Museum on February 6, 2024 in New York. Photo: John Nacion/WWD via Getty Images.

Yuga Labs, the Web3 company behind the NFT trailblazers CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club has unveiled a new collaborative initiative called “Punk in Residence.” The new program aims to redefine fine art by collaborating with established “IRL” artists to create innovative digital works using blockchain technology. Each chosen artist in residence will bring a new practice or perspective, regardless of whether they have prior experience in Web3. The starting point for each artist is to question, “what does punk mean to you?”

Nina Chanel Abney will be the first to step up. The Chicago-born artist is renowned for her vibrant, large-scale paintings, exploring the intersection of contemporary culture, race, gender, sexuality and global politics, with works in the Whitney’s collection and solo exhibitions at the ICA Miami and Palais de Tokyo.

In 2022, Abney released her first NFTs as part of Nina’s Super Cool World, a project encompassing 5,080 generative PFPs (profile picture) that play off her graphic aesthetic. The NFTs were later made available as prints on Avant Arte. “I was excited and really inspired to embrace NFT as a new medium,” she said at that time. “I know the increasing potential and capabilities of NFTs, and I truly think it’s a great way to create deeper engagement with the art community.”

She added: “I hope this collection and my artistic journey can inspire other artists from underrepresented communities to jumpstart their own NFT and digital art.”

The outcome of Abney’s time as a Punk in Residence, a program that offers mentorship, technical guidance, and production support, will be exhibited at an upcoming solo exhibition, with sales conducted on Magic Eden, a platform for creator royalties. The artist was also gifted Punk #72 by the CryptoPunks team to celebrate the launch of the project.

“Cryptopunks are a pioneering project that has played a crucial role in the creation of the digital collectible space,” the artist told Business Wire, “By collaborating with them, I saw an opportunity to be at the center of a unique intersection of art, technology and culture.”

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