Hamiltonian Gallery Presents Paolo Morales Memphis Tulips and Helina Metaferia Refiguring the Canon

By Editorial Team on August 6, 2018

Sat, 11 August 2018 - Sat, 15 September 2018

Photo courtesy of Hamiltonian Gallery.
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 11 from 7pm to 9pm

Hamiltonian is pleased to present two new bodies of work by artists Paolo Morales and Helina Metaferia. Memphis Tulips and Refiguring the Canon will open with a reception on Saturday, August 11 from 7 – 9 pm. Both artists will be in attendance.

In Refiguring the Canon, artist Helina Metaferia creates a hybrid environment where performance art and collage are used to interrogate racism, sexism, and notions of western exceptionalism within art historical narratives and institutional spaces. Metaferia displays documentation from performances at the National Gallery of Art and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, in which she asserts her body using simple gestures in contrast to historic artworks, challenging their conceptual meaning. In other works, Metaferia uses found magazines, including Art News, Art Forum, and Art in America, published in the 1980’s (the decade of her birth). Combining the images of artwork featured in the magazines with photographic stills from her recent performances, Metaferia creates an avatar persona who reclaims a space in art history for under-recognized and marginalized women and artists of color. Playing with the trending re-interest in “primitivism,” Metaferia uses her Ethiopian-American female body as a way to reclaim that gaze and decolonize the appropriation of black culture. Revisiting Hannah Höch’s From An Ethnographic Museum series from a black woman’s perspective, and addressing the Guerrilla Girls’ timeless questioning of “greatness” in art history, Metaferia examines how these dated issues remain relevant today.

In Memphis Tulips, photographer Paolo Morales presents a selection of color photographs, showing the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, that he began as an Artist in Residence at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. Focusing his attention on the quiet moments that punctuate the streets and lives of the residents of Kensington, Morales characterizes the neighborhood as an area that is filled with hope despite adverse conditions. Using color and light to set the tone, Morales captures the presence of human tenderness in an unforgiving urban environment. In his photographic description of Kensington, murals of bucolic landscapes and planters filled with plastic flowers adorn an alleyway, and an inflatable swimming pool turns a concrete backyard into an oasis. The moments captured in Memphis Tulips stand in stark contrast with the neighborhood’s harsh environs: through the formal rigor of Morales’ images, sensitivity co-exists with urban blight, and his subjects nurture one another unconditionally. Named after two streets in Kensington, Memphis Tulips is Morales’s empathetic portrait of a place and the people who call it home.

Helina Metaferia (b. 1983, Washington, DC) is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, video, installation, and collage. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions at venues including Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, CA), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), New Museum (New York, NY), Galeria Labirynt (Lublin, Poland), and Museum of Modern Art (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia).

Helina received her MFA in 2015 from Tufts University, School of the Museum of Fine Arts and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her artist residencies include Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Ox-Bow, and Lighthouse Works. Her work has been reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, and Performa Magazine. She was a 2015-2017 AICAD Teaching Fellow at the San Francisco Art Institute and is a 2018-2019 Visiting Professor/Artist in Residence of Critical Race Theory at Michigan State University.

Paolo Morales (b.1989, New York, NY) is a photographer. Exhibitions include The George Washington University, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, New York Asian Film Festival, Capital One Bank Headquarters, Jinju Photography Festival, and ClampArt, among others. Residencies include Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Blue Mountain Center, and Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. He received a BFA from The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and an MFA in Photography from Rhode Island School of Design. He teaches at George Mason University and The Potomac School.

Gallery Hours:

  • Tuesday through Saturday: 12pm to 6pm
  • or by appointment

Hamiltonian is located at 1353 U Street NW. For more information visit www.hamiltoniangallery.com.