Torpedo Factory Art Center Welcomes the 2019 Cohort to Post-Grad Residency Studio

By Editorial Team on January 22, 2019

For the fifth year, the Torpedo Factory Art Center welcomes four emerging artists to participate in the Post-Grad Residency Program: J Houston, Michaela Japec, Nava Levenson, and Kim Sandara. The jurors were Nicole Dowd, program director at Halcyon Arts Lab, and Leslie Holt, artist and co-director of Red Dirt Studio.

This competitive juried program provides three months of exclusive access to a studio in the Art Center. Therein, artists can create and sell work, interact with the public, and connect with other arts professionals. The residency is unique for addressing the critical post-graduation juncture in an emerging artist’s career, offering an opportunity for professional development, networking, and a chance to define their practice outside of the academic context.

Applications were open to recently graduated students who earned a bachelor’s or master’s art degree from an accredited university. Submissions were accepted from across the nation, provided artists submit proof of their permanent residence in the area and/or commitment to contributing to the future of the region’s arts scene.

“This program is about hosting and supporting rising artists within our creative community,” said Brett Johnson, director of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. “The residency has many opportunities for innovation and collaboration, between artists and visitors alike. We hope this studio continues to be a place where people exchange perspectives, techniques, and ideas.”

The program culminates in a group exhibition in Target Gallery, the Torpedo Factory’s contemporary exhibition space, November 8 – December 8, 2019.

Meet the 2010 Post-Graduate Residents

Michaela Japec– January – March
George Mason University
Michaela Japec is from Alexandria, Virginia. She recently completed her bachelor’s of fine arts in 2018 from George Mason University. Through her art, she works through conflicting thoughts she has about her sexuality, body insecurities, and feelings of oppression. During her residency, she will explore less comfortable themes with exaggerated and even grotesque work.

Though Michaela was born in Alexandria, she grew up in Forssjö, Sweden, and lived there until 2008. She has been active in the Alexandria visual arts community for many years, exhibiting work at The Art League Gallery and Delray Artisan Gallery, as well as other locations in Northern Virginia including Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale and Epicure Café in Fairfax.

Nava Levenson– April – June
James Madison University
Nava Levenson in a multidisciplinary artist, instigator, and collaborator based in Richmond, Virginia. She completed her bachelor’s of fine arts in 2017 from James Madison University. Her work investigates anthropological concepts such as hospitality, labor, consumption, and space making. Nava incorporates repurposed materials in much of her art in an effort to chip away at the surplus of objects that crowd the planet.

During her residency, she plans to invite artists from the Art Center to participate in her ongoing project, Practice Preserves: Studio Dirt. In the same way thrift stores reveal things about American culture, she seeks to archive artists’ practices. She invites people to add studio scraps and discarded material in quart-sized canning jars, which she then opens, catalogs, and photographs for an anthology she hopes to publish. She already received a starter grant from Specto Artspace and this residency will allow her to advance the project.

Kim Sandara– July – September
Maryland Institute College of Art
Kim Sandara is a queer, Lao/Viet, artist based in Falls Church, Virginia. In 2016, she graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a bachelor’s of fine arts. Accessibility to art is a key part of her creative process. Her overall focus is to encourage empathy, wonder, self-reflection, and connection. During the residency, she will continue documenting her coming out story. She will create a stop-motion animation promoting her graphic novel aimed at helping parents of color to understand and accept their queer children. She hopes contribute proceeds from sales to National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and True Colors Fund.

J Houston – October – December
Carnegie Mellon University
J Houston is a multimedia artist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and New York City. They graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s in art and gender studies. Through photo, video, and installations, J’s work investigates how queerness occupies domestic spaces, intangible relationships, and identity-markers. As public community gathering spaces become gentrified and inaccessible to queer culture, the community operates in new ways post-displacement. J’s work also uses their body as a physical spaces and explores the intersection of non-binary gender and chronic illness.

During their residency, J intends to continue to build on their work surrounding gender in relationship to chronic pain. They have been making cyanotypes with their x-rays, printing onto medical gauze, and making large-scale archives of what their body has experienced. They intend to experiment with new materials to integrate photography, video, and digital platforms. They look forward to having space to evolve their image-making practice and queer-theory research.

(via. Torpedo Factory Art Center. Photos courtesy of Torpedo Factory Art Center.)