Ella Emhoff Debut Knitwear Art Show 2024 Scene Report


On April 4, an art-school-meets-hypebeast crowd gathered at Gotham — a woman-owned premium cannabis and lifestyle store off Bowery — not to stock up on bespoke Edie Parker pre-rolls and CBD eye cream, but to view Ella Emhoff’s knit paintings and wearables.

In Emhoff’s first foray into sharing her art in a formal setting, the 24-year-old multidisciplinary artist, model, and (it can’t be left unsaid) step-daughter to vice president Kamala Harris chose to debut her collection at the dispensary rather than a traditional gallery. (She’d previously shared her work online and through her in-person knitting community Small Hands Knit Club.)

The audience, which varied in age but was strictly over 21 years old, donned everything from prairie frocks just slightly too bold for the Amish to Aimé Leon Dore shirts and Stüssy snapbacks. Everyone looked hip and important, like artists or influencers you’ve seen somewhere but don’t quite recognize by name. Several, in fact, were just that: TikTok creators like Kate Glavan and Tiny Jewish Girl were among those who stopped by Emhoff’s three-hour opening.

On the main floor of the shop, attendees browsed non-THC goods, including Seth Rogan’s Houseplant brand ashtrays, D.S & Durga hand soap, and Gotham’s in-house brand of candles and CBD perfumes. In the back, apron-clad employees stood behind glass counters of hyper-curated, higher-end cannabis products in just about every medium imaginable — flower, gummies, chocolates, vapes, syrups, and even an olive oil. But the store’s focal point was Emhoff’s handmade knit hats, square-neck tops, and wide-leg pants priced at $75 to upwards of $350.

Upstairs, Emhoff’s display of knit “paintings” lined the walls, featuring textile art on a canvas-like structure that played with depth and texture. Some works took on a found-object focus, highlighting small accessories like a singular earring or pair of Sandy Liang ballet flats, while others recreated Emhoff’s selfies. “I just work really instinctually,” she told NYLON. “I look at Pinterest a lot, I’m on Instagram. I’m always trying to find inspiration through that.”

Like many art openings, the event was primarily a social affair. There was a DJ, which I didn’t notice until near the end of the opening — the sound of conversation was louder than the music. (In classic weed-store fashion, the atmosphere remained all-around chill and upbeat.) Further eschewing the traditional gallery wine open bar, drink options ranged from alcohol-free Cann THC-infused beverages and Ghia to selections from Bronx Brewery.

This sense of doing things a little differently was intentional, says Emhoff, who had previously established a relationship with Gotham and wanted her show to amplify the fellow local artists the store works with year-round. “It’s really exciting. I’ve never shown this stuff in person,” she explained. “I don’t show a lot in person in general, so it’s really cool to see people be excited about it, see them smile — that’s why I made the work.”

Outside the show, I asked a group of guests dressed like turn-of-the-century professors and ‘90s mechanics for their thoughts. “This gallery had some back on it,” one said. “And I like that.” I interpreted that to mean both Gotham and Emhoff have a spine — because Ella Emhoff hosting a knit-art show at a dispensary is the sort of thing that sounds like a parody, but in practice, it works.


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