Opening Reception: Thursday, July 15 from 5pm to 7pm
Art Enables announces In Search of Solid Ground, a new exhibition from Art Enables resident artist Toni Lane and visiting artist Alanna Reeves, exploring themes of displacement, vulnerability, identity, and the effects of identity discontinuity on mental health and wellbeing. In these works, historical and cultural forces manifest as shifting landscapes to be navigated and questioned. Lane and Reeves sort through both what’s longed for and unwanted, foreign and familiar, past and present, seeking self-knowledge and stability.
In Toni Lane’s drawings, stylized human figures are central, and arms and hands are expressive and urgent messengers. They prod, embrace and make desperate requests for help. Some of Lane’s subjects are at risk of drowning – in churning waters, unwelcome attention, or under the emotional weight of circumstance. In one work, we can see the water is symbolic – prescription medication bottles tumble under the surface of waves rising in surreal fashion inside the interior of a home, an arm outthrust in a plea for assistance. In other works, the arms are a safe harbor: the embrace of a lover or the overlapping touches of three generations of women in “My Grandmother’s Hands.” Lane communicates emotions directly in her work, but she also utilizes more subtle signifiers. In “Mal-Treat (Know the Sign)”, the raised fist is not a sign of aggression. Rather, the thumb tucked under closed fingers indicates the signal for requesting help in situations of domestic violence. In all of her works, Lane renders potent human desires, needs, and struggles with immediacy, sensitive to the ebb and flow of traversing one’s own emotional and psychological terrain.
In Alanna Reeves’ paintings and prints, the landscape is more literal but no more certain. Monochromatic trees and plants call on a specific place – the partly unknown homeland of the artist’s ancestors. Mixed with accumulated grids and book pages, this imagery references guides from which the artist has learned and deviated. The components are shuffled, dreamlike and liquid in their mingling. In two paintings – “Lake Hebron” and “Montego” – a figure reaches through actual water and ice to orient itself. In other works, short lines of handwritten text float in open space. Dwarfed by their surroundings, their smallness gives them a quiet, tentative presence. These are fragments pulled from the private spaces of an introspective mind, reflections on the meaning of identity within and without a community with whom to share it. “What is mine?” one print asks, continuing, “Nothing has been given so I have to create it.” Reeves’ use of the ghost print – the second passing in the monotype process that yields a fainter deposit of ink – is an apt visual rhyme for the ghosts of the past. Knowledge diffused through generations reaches us in ethereal traces, incomplete guideposts in the search for solid ground.
- Saturdays 9am – 5pm
- Thursdays 5pm – 7pm
Art Enables is located at 2204 Rhode Island Ave NE.