Opening Reception: Thursday, July 13 from 6pm to 8pm
Target Gallery, the contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center, welcomes Detroit-based mixed-media artist Sarah Nesbitt for her first solo exhibition in the greater DC metropolitan area. Sarah Nesbitt: Making Sense of What We Have is on view Thursday, July 13, through Sunday, September 3, 2017.
Nesbitt’s show arrives at a time where our society, the media, and government aim to establish a concrete line between fact and opinion, history and myth, evidence and conspiracy theory. She studies forgeries, censorship, the writing and re-writing of history, and positions art as essential to contextualizing and interpreting both our present and our past.
“A photograph is often perceived to be an objective arbiter of truth, but realistically, it’s just as open to manipulation as the process of recording history,” said Nesbitt. “Photography can alter our entire perception of reality via editing, interpretation, and desensitization. It can also construct hyper-reality and depict pseudo-events.”
To Nesbitt, history is a living, breathing investigation into who and what came before us. Using a variety of modern and antiquated printed and digital media—videos, installations, sculpture, augmented reality, and wet-plate photography—Nesbitt disrupts her own work with stitching, dissecting, writing, and pinning. She lays it bare so that it can be seen for what it is. Photographs aren’t precious and complete, they’re vulnerable to disruptions from outside forces.
For her large-scale print, The Survival of Art, she lays out slides and notates them with art historical comments. For example, the slide labeled “Edward Curtis” reads, “Destroyed all of his glass negatives in 1919. Others claimed he misrepresented Native American people.”
In Our History of the Telephone, the audience sees a spread in an old book on the history of telephony. Using a custom application on a smart phone, the viewer holds the screen over the picture of the book and sees it changed and modified in real time.
“My aim is to create awareness to these shortcomings so we could continue to look at history not as static stories of previous lives, but our efforts to get closer to an accurate portrayal of our past,” she said.
Nesbitt was selected from more than 100 international applicants as part of the annual Open Exhibition solo show opportunity. The jurors for this exhibition were: Jeremy Flick, Sheldon Scott, and Marta Staudinger.
“Sarah explores the critical methods we use to record world history and understand our present,” said Flick. “She aims to reveal the shortcomings of how we read photographic images, what constitutes as accurate, and how we construct narratives of history. She offers a new focal point in which we should critically examine the role of photography in our understanding of history and the formation of our present stories.”
“As our understanding of truth, its consequences, and our acceptance thereof are challenged in new ways, we must become open to nuanced frameworks for future thinking and increased scrutiny of the historical record,” said Scott. “Sarah’s use of different media suggests a diversity of delivery systems that truth could be experienced through. Her disruption of surfaces brings a greater focus to our personal experiences in the process of truth.”
“Sarah’s interest in creating awareness of history shortcomings is a refreshing narrative that seems particularly appropriate in a time where we are so digitally connected to news, and yet somewhat removed from truth,” said Staudinger. “The amount of information input we receive is overwhelming and this exhibition brings to light not only that process, but the historiography of our interpretation of history over time.”
Sarah Nesbitt was chosen from more than 100 applicants for Target Gallery’s 2017 Open Exhibition competition, which seeks to spotlight the work of one up-and-coming artist each year.
About the Artist
Sarah Nesbitt was born in Syracuse, New York, and has a master’s of fine art in photography from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor’s of fine art in photography and drawing at the State University of New York at Oswego. Her interests lie in studying how history is used and perceived, in conjunction with investigating the importance of people’s actions and behaviors towards that information acquired to them. Nesbitt has exhibited her work in venues located in South Korea, Scotland, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, and throughout the United States. Her works have been featured in publications such as Levure Litteraire, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, Photographer’s Forum, Detroit Metro Times, and INSIGHT 7 magazine. Her work has been selected for group exhibitions by jurors such as Lesley Martin, publisher of the Aperture Book Program; Kathy Ryan, photo editor of The New York Times Magazine; Jennifer Blessing, curator of photography at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Christopher James, author of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes; and Louis Grachos, director of Albright-Knox Gallery. She is currently an assistant professor of photography and art history at Marygrove College in Detroit.
About the Jurors
Jeremy Flick is a Washington-based arts administrator, artist, and educator. He received his bachelor’s of fine arts from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s of fine arts from the University of Maryland. As a practicing artist, his works are included in numerous private and academic collections, and he has exhibited extensively with recent exhibitions at Gallery nine5, Heiner Contemporary Art, Arlington Arts Center, Aqua Art Miami, Conner Contemporary Art, and the Runnels Art Gallery, among others. Additionally, he currently serves as the executive director of CREATE Arts Center in Silver Spring as well as an adjunct professor in the Visual Arts Department at Montgomery College. His previous roles have included deputy director for Washington Project for the Arts, assistant director at CONNERSMITH, coordinator of the (e)merge art fair, and professional lecturer at George Washington University.
Born and raised in the Gullah/Geechee Lowcountry of South Carolina, Sheldon Scott now lives and works in Washington, DC as an artist. His work plays in the intersection of race, sexuality and economics, while impugning mythologies of black male supernaturality. Sheldon makes performance, sculpture, installation, photo-based work, spoken word, creative nonfiction, objects, and ephemera. He is an alumnus of the Capital Fringe Theatre Festival and (e)merge art fair. His storytelling has been shared on the stages of Busboys & Poets, Story District, and The Moth, where he serves as host for the DC outpost. His work has been on exhibition at the WPA Select Auction, Arlington Arts Center, Delaware State University, Goucher University, Art Miami, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, National African Art Museum, Katzen Art Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. He has been featured in Forbes Magazine, Blouin Art Info, Art 21 and Hyperallergic. He sits on the boards of the Youth Pride Alliance, Teaching For Change and StepAfrika and also served on the DC Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. ConnerSmith Contemporary represents Scott’s Fine Art works while Ross & Yoon Literary Agency represents his written works.
A native of Washington, DC, Marta Staudinger is an artist, art historian, and curator. She founded the Latela Art Gallery, voted DC’s best Commercial Art Gallery in 2016, where she devotes her time as executive director managing artists, organizing exhibitions, and selling contemporary art. She received her bachelor’s in art history from George Mason University specializing in Italian renaissance, Italian baroque, and European modernism and her master’s in curatorial studies and new media curatorship from Universitat de Ramon Llull in Barcelona, Spain. Prior to founding the Latela Art Gallery, Marta worked on archival and curatorial projects in museums in Florence, Italy, including the National Bargello Museum, Medici Chapels, and Casa Martelli; in Barcelona at the Antoni Tàpies Foundation; and in Washington at the National Gallery of Art as the Samuel H. Kress Archivist. Fluent in English, Italian, and Spanish, she is also an art history lecturer for Smithsonian Journeys in Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
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Torpedo Factory is located at 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, VA. For more information, visit torpedofactory.org/partners/target-gallery/.