Opening Receptions: Friday, May 12 from 7pm to 9pm
May 5 – June 4, 2017
Gibbs Street Gallery, VisArts (1st floor)
Amanda Burnham makes outsized wall drawings of cities culled (usually) from piles of paper scraps. Cities interest her as teeming containers for everything. She admires the adaptive sensibility of tinkerers, patchers, foragers, and those who make-do, like a friend who keeps bees in a 12’ x 12’ back yard, or my neighbors who know that the empty “mint house” down the street is a great source for all their spearmint needs. She likes seeing apartments become organizing posts, lots become soccer pitches, and stoops become gathering places. A conjoined block of back porches, cellular in appearance, but as various as its inhabitants, is her favorite view. Cities like this are worth aspiring to.
When she tears drawings down, the parts get stuffed into bags for eventual reuse in later drawings. A bank of rowhomes becomes a teetering television antenna, or a moveable type sign becomes a sidewalk. When she pieces parts together, she leaves the joints exposed. She values tape as both an adhesive and as a line. She rarely pictures people in her constructions, but people are not absent. Architecture interests her the moment it becomes humanized.
About the Artist
Amanda Burnham (born Toledo, Ohio, 1979) makes drawings and installations based on her explorations and encounters with the city. Her work has been exhibited widely both nationally and internationally including the Volta Art Fair (Basel, Switzerland), Halle Nord (Geneva, Switzerland), the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art. She was selected by Mera Rubell for The Washington Project for the Art’s Baltimore Artists + WPA +Mera = Love exhibition hosted at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City and SELECT 2014 at Artisphere. She received a Rubys Grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council, a Mayor’s Art Award via the Creative Baltimore Fund, and was named a Sondheim Art Prize semifinalist. Recently she was a resident artist at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China. A graduate of Harvard University (B.A.) and Yale University (M.F.A.). Burnham lives and works in Baltimore, MD, USA, where she is currently an Associate Professor at Towson University. www.amandaburnham.com
Curated by José Ruiz
May 5 – June 11, 2017
Kaplan Gallery, VisArts
VisArts is proud to open Local Legends, a group exhibition that mines recent one-of-a-kind stories and offbeat folklore from Rockville to fantastical ends. A team of contemporary artists has created newly commissioned artworks in response to a curated trove of published stories, oral histories, and documents developed by the exhibition’s research team. Local Legends is curated by the VisArts 2017 Mentoring Curator José Ruiz, as part of the VisArts Emerging Curator Program.
The exhibition’s narrative unfolds through the works from DMV (Washington DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia) artists Calder Brannock, Rodrigo Carazas Portal, Larry Cook, James Huckenpahler, Katie Macyshyn, Amanda Kleinman, Raul Zahir de Leon, and Kathryn Zaremba. Ashley DeHoyos (2017 VisArts Emerging Curator), Christine Miller, and Alexandra Oliva served as research assistants.
Each of the artists employs a malleability of interpretation and appropriation towards what is considered newsworthy in order to prompt the local community to consider historical, conceptual, and visual narratives in new ways. Their respective practices combine context, research, and a variety of media including sculpture, photography, installation, performance, illustration, video, and new media. A limited edition newspaper documenting the artistic and research process will accompany the exhibition.
Local Legends promotes the belief that the extraordinary can happen in the most unexpected places, and that a town’s identity is often collectively shaped by intimate moments and human ephemera. What is archived can be unearthed and remixed. What is re-collected can also be re-shared through structures of exhibition and display. Ultimately, transforming a gallery space into a site for communal reflection through a dialogue shaped by its own vernacular.
About the Curator
José Ruiz is a Peruvian-born artist and curator who lives and works between DC, Baltimore, and New York. Over the past fifteen years, he has mounted exhibitions and curatorial prompts for cities, museums, biennials, non-profits, galleries, and art fairs. These projects have taken place in street corners, community centers, universities, abandoned warehouses, creative incubators, and commercial spaces, both at the national and international level. His practice has been the subject of various publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, ARTnews, Arte Al Día, Artnet, and The Washington Post. He is the founder of Furthermore, a post-studio research, design and production lab operating out of D.C. and Brooklyn, and a partner and co-director at Present Co., a New York-based gallery and curatorial collective. Ruiz currently serves as Director and Faculty in the Curatorial Practice M.F.A. Program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.
About the VisArts Emerging Curator Program
The VisArts Emerging Curator Program pairs an emerging curator with an experienced mentoring curator to produce new exhibitions and related programming. The program is generously funded by the Windgate Charitable Foundation.
April 28 – May 28
Common Ground Gallery, VisArts (2nd floor)
Jenna Wright explores how social pressures impact our understanding of home and domestic comforts. Using ceramics, drawings, and sculpture, her work springs from the dense suburban environment of her native New Jersey. She is drawn to ways that urban sprawl, remodeling, and design trends shape the landscape, influence the formation of a home, and mold individuals. Wright’s constructions balance freedom of expression with cookie cutter efficiency. She humorously subverts the comforts of home with contradictory materials. Soft-looking pillows are actually ceramic replicas topped with perfect little squares of lawn that will eventually wither. Her spare, drawings suggest architectural reality, but are in fact abstractions concocted from fragments of real plans. Struts, essential for the structural soundness of a house, pile up in ways that undermine security. “Home” is a squishy realm of choices, patterns, and social conditioning. The true and artificial exist side by side.
About the Artist: Jenna Wright is originally from New Jersey. She graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania where she received a B.F.A. focusing in Ceramics and a B.S.E. in Art Education K – 12. She recently received her M.F.A. from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She was a studio artist at VisArts in Rockville, Maryland and recently served as Artist in Residence at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland. www.jennawrightart.com
- Wednesday & Thursday: 12 – 4pm
- Friday: 12 – 8pm
- Saturday & Sunday: 12 – 4pm
VisArts at Rockville is located three blocks from the Rockville Metro station at 155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD. For information, please visit www.visartscenter.org or call 301-315-8200.