Gallery B Presents Hillary L. Steel and Elaine S. Wilson Paying Attention

By Editorial Team on October 4, 2021
Photo Credit Mark Gulezian.
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 14 from 5pm to 7pm

Gallery B will feature Paying Attention, an exhibit by Hillary L. Steel and Elaine S. Wilson, from October 14 – November 7, 2021. A mixed-media show, the exhibit will showcase weavings by Hillary and paintings by Elaine. An opening reception will be held Thursday, October 14, 5-7pm and the artist talk & closing will be Sunday, November 7, 3pm.

Elaborating on the “Paying Attention” collaboration, Michele Cohen Ph.D., Curator, Architect of the Capitol, writes:

Hillary L. Steel, a weaver and dyer, and Elaine S. Wilson, a plein-air painter, come together in this exhibition to express shared concerns about art making and the larger world. Although using very different means and methods, they are both committed to craft and to the essential nature of their art, whether it be fiber or paint. Intentionality informs their work, produced slowly and deliberately. They believe in “paying attention.”

Using thread, cloth and dye, Steel creates sculptural tapestries with titles such as Requiem and Loss that hang like silent sentinels. They emerge from an arduous process, born of hand-woven fabrics that Steel has dyed, cut, folded, and reassembled. Inspired by West African and Mexican textiles and global resist dyeing techniques of ikat and shibori, Steel creates complex symphonies of geometric shapes, colors, and patterns, oftentimes resembling shaped canvases. Her most evocative pieces are anthropomorphic. Loss resembles a papoose or shrouded body and Sheltered suggests a family’s protective embrace. Weaving is Steel’s way of processing her feelings about immigration, homelessness, and gun violence.

The grid that is inherent in Steel’s loom-based work is also evident in Wilson’s paintings, which have a clear internal structure. Wilson looks for the geometry in the scenes she scopes out, capturing the rhythms of repeating forms and balancing each compositional element. She gravitates toward man-made structures in light-filled landscapes that draw our attention to the messy boundaries of urban landscapes, where nature and artifice intersect. She seeks locations with a message, such as Waiting for Temple Court, documenting the site where an affordable housing project is slated to rise. Other paintings such as The DC General Comes Down record demolition that often scars neighborhoods before leading to renewal. Despite the unconventional subjects Wilson features, she endows her canvases with color and light, the real subject for a plein-air painter. Her paintings evolve slowly from drawings and repeated visits, but the finished product is always fresh and immediate.

Together Steel and Wilson prompt us to look both inward and outward, to slow down and savor the beauty found in ordinary things.

Gallery Hours:

  • Thursday – Saturday: 1 – 6 pm
  • Sunday: 1 – 5 pm
  • or by appointment

Gallery B, located at 7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite E, Bethesda, MD.