IA&A at Hillyer | Local Artist Exhibition Series: Michael Thron, Hillary K. Steel, and MK Bailey

By Editorial Team on March 28, 2022

Fri, 01 April 2022 - Sat, 30 April 2022

Michael Thron, In The Ways, 2022, Lead, tin, steel, tar, aluminum. Varied dimensions.
Opening Reception: Friday, April 1 from 6pm to 8pm

In the Ways by Michael Thron
Earth has entered a new epoch characterized by humanity’s modification of earth’s environmental systems: the Anthropocene. The rising seas and temperatures, resource scarcity, and climate-change-fueled migrations (both human and animal) that mark our new age call on us to reconsider both the ideas that define our worldviews and the material culture that codifies everyday experience. The concern with our existence and our own human condition will be challenged and tested in a changing landscape. Some of us may need to be transported from our home, state, or continent, while others are left with nothing and nowhere to go.

About the Artist
Michael Richard Thron (born 1990 in Stamford, CT) is an MFA graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, and received his BFA from Syracuse University. His practice investigates materiality, entropy, and object ontology. Through gathering, manipulation, and replication, his work acts as a conduit to examine the evolution of the self, exploring how a sculpture can exist “in” space or “as” space. It sometimes acts as a reminder of personal identity, memory, and the human condition. Among Thron’s honors and awards are the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture, the Mid-Atlantic Sculpture Prize, and the Daniel Ohlke Award. He has served as a resident artist at Salem Art Works and Gilbertsville Expressive Movement, and has exhibited at the London Biennale, the Everhart Museum, and the Katonah Museum of Art. His work has also been featured at the Studio 80 Sculpture Park, Salem Art Works, and the St Anselm’s Abbey public art collections.

Artist Quote
“I transfigure what exists. I manipulate identifiable objects alongside crafted elements through a process of hunting and gathering, disassembling, and replicating, reengineering, and distilling. Through a historical lens, I focus on moments where the past and present coexist. Using the history and essence of industrial ruins, I fabricate emulations of society and its overabundant remnants. By reflecting upon what happens when conceived materiality obstructs, disrupts, and interferes, a dialogue is started about our effect on and in the world. Through examining the art-object as a vehicle, art can act as a conduit to examine the evolution of oneself and understand our place in space.”

Hillary Steel. Tikkun Olam 


Tikkun Olam—Repair the World by Hillary L. Steel
As I create, I am driven by both material and process. The slow labor of preparing and dyeing fibers (including ikat resist-dye techniques), dressing looms, and weaving affords me time to think, as I physically transform simple linear elements — threads — into whole cloth. Once the fabric is woven and cut off the loom, I work on the composition (including surface design processes such as shibori/batik/printing/dyeing, cutting, sewing), a process best described as a conversation, or a call and response, between material and artist.

About the Artist
Hillary Steel is an artist and teacher who specializes in weaving and resist dyeing. She incorporates ikat and shibori (in Spanish, jaspe and amarras) into her hand-woven wall pieces. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Buffalo, she began her study of textiles in post-baccalaureate coursework at SUNY Buffalo State College and the University of Pittsburgh, and deepened her knowledge through her travels to Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Chile, and Mexico. Hillary received a master’s degree in teaching from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and has worked in public and private schools in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the DC metropolitan area as an artist in residence. She has also studied with the Mexican master rebozo weaver Don Evaristo Borboa Casas. Hillary’s work has been displayed in national and international exhibitions in Costa Rica, Mexico, Japan, Korea, and China, and is held in numerous private and public collections, including the Smithsonian Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the George Washington Textile Museum, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Art Bank Collection, and the American embassies in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Tijuana, Mexico. Steel is a recipient of a 2018 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award and a FY21 Artists and Scholars award from the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council. She has been a resident of Montgomery County, Maryland, since 1994, and maintains a studio in Silver Spring.

Artist Quote:
“Craft is universal and speaks all languages. Weaving, my area of expertise, is old technology that has been passed along from one generation to the next. Handmade objects quietly speak volumes about one’s culture and identity, aesthetics, and purpose.”

“In my own journey, I have encountered generous teachers and artists who have shared their technical wisdom and guidance. They modeled dedication to their work, the pursuit of excellence, and patience.”

MK Bailey, Outside Eden, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 36” X 48”.

Secret Garden by MK Bailey
In the secret garden, everything seems fine. The tulips are blooming, the vines are twining, and even the litter is aesthetically pleasing. A figure pulls her hair out so gently that you almost don’t notice it.

The secret garden is an imagining of anxiety as a self-contained, physical space. Each piece is a little horror vacui gardenscape, where lone figures are overwhelmed by bright colors and sinister foliage. Like a gardener, each figure fights against the inevitability of nature.

The works pull imagery from the art historical canon alongside the various detritus the artist collects during her daily walks. They are collections of the last two years of her thoughts while in isolation.

About the Artist
MK Bailey is a Washington, DC-based painter who creates darkly colorful figurative paintings, digital drawings, and experimental landscapes that reflect her experience of the world. She uses acrylic and digital mediums to explore themes of loneliness, anxiety, nostalgia, and the tension between dream and reality.

MK’s work has been exhibited both locally and nationally, most recently at Plain Sight DC; Second Street Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia; and Rule Gallery in Denver; as well as in flat-file programs at Transformer and ICA Baltimore. MK was the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop Artist-in-Resident in 2020, and was the recipient of a 2021 Art and Humanities Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Artist Quote:
“Aesthetically, I’m interested in exploring the line between ironically self-aware kitsch and a genuinely over-the-top-feminine aesthetic. The light aesthetic choices combine with the dark themes of the work to create tension between its presentation and meaning.”

International Arts and Artists at Hillyer
Founded in 2006, IA&A at Hillyer (formerly Hillyer Art Space) is the Washington-area initiative of International Arts & Artists. Through its innovative and often provocative exhibitions and public programs, IA&A at Hillyer champions local and international artists at all stages of their careers.

IA&A at Hillyer collaborates with artists, cultural organizations, and embassies to develop and host creative, thought-provoking programs that push our understanding and reflect the uniqueness of DC as an international capital. Whether you live in Washington or are visiting, IA&A at Hillyer invites you to encounter contemporary art from the US and around the world in a welcoming, intimate gallery setting.

IA&A at Hillyer is located at 9 Hillyer Ct, NW.