District of Columbia Arts Center Presents The Black Overlay

By Editorial Team on June 4, 2019
Sherman Fleming, Infinite Desire #17, Watercolor on 140 lb. Arches hot press. 30″ x 22″. Courtesy of DCAC.
Performances:  Thursday, June 20 from 6pm to 9pm
Artists’ Talk & Closing Reception: Saturday, June 22 from 3pm to 6pm

The District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC) presents The Black Overlay, an exhibition of vibrant watercolors by Sherman Fleming, as well as performances exploring the black body, gender, and systemic violence.

Sherman Fleming
 has been actively involved in performance art since the 1970’s. His work often explores the body’s expressive power and the limits of endurance, confronting issues of black masculinity and the psychosexual tensions surrounding the black male body. Fleming received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and his MFA from Hartford Art School. His performance work has been featured at a number of institutions, including the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, and Franklin Furnace in New York.

Holly Bass is a multidisciplinary performance and visual artist, writer and director. Recurring themes in her work include the black female body, labor, gentrification and community engagement. She studied modern dance (under Viola Farber) and creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College before earning her Master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. From 2014-2019, she directed a year-round creative writing and performance program for adjudicated youth in DC’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. She is a 2019 Red Bull Detroit Artist-in-residence, a recipient of the 2019 Dance USA Artist Fellowship and a 2019 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

Infinite Desire is an ongoing series of collage-based figurative abstractions Fleming started in 2012. Informed by Japan’s Edo period, particularly its vision of “the floating world,” the Infinite Desire series of vibrant watercolors attempt to articulate all of the realities in which these images make sense.

Something Akin To Living (1979). A collaborator (Wilmer Wilson) measures, saws and fits 40 pieces of wood slats between the performer (Holly Bass) and two support columns so that the performer has to use her body to literally hold everything together.

Pretending To Be Rock (1997). In its earlier iteration, Fleming, representing the black male body, was on his hands and knees facing a female figure (Josephine Nicholson) who was suspended from the ceiling above a shallow pool of water.  Candle wax pelted the performer’s body, forming a body cast, while a hose from the shallow pool sprayed water over the female figure. Dualities such as fire/water and male/female are explored in this piece as well as endurance and the body’s resilience. Holly Bass will reprise Fleming’s role and Maps Glover will perform Nicholson’s role, inverting the gender dynamics of the original piece.

The Black Overlay: Saturday, June 1, 2019 to Saturday, June 22, 2019. Exhibition opening Saturday, June 1, 2019 4pm-7pm.  Performance of Pretending To Be Rock Thursday June 20, 2019 6pm-9pm. Artists’ talk and closing reception on Saturday, June 22, 2019 3pm-6pm.

Gallery hours are Wednesdays through Sundays from 2 to 7 pm. All events are free and open to the public at DC Arts Center (DCAC), 2438 18th Street NW, Washington DC. For more information call 202-462-7833, email info@dcartscenter.org, or visit dcartscenter.org.