VisArts presents new exhibitions by Studio Artist Hannah Brancato; Bresler Residents Edgar Reyes, Safiyah Cheatam, and Fargo Tbakhi; and VisArts’ Faculty.
An onsite reception will be held Friday, February 4 from 7-9 p.m.
Part one will be held on February 19 in the Gibbs Street Gallery from 1-4 p.m. Part two will be held online on February 26 from 1-2:30 p.m. RSVP to reserve your spot and receive a Zoom link
Hannah Brancato’s Inheritance of White Silence features a set of white linen napkins from her grandmother that Brancato embroidered with symptoms of internalized white superiority. From a second set of napkins, Brancato cut out phrases describing the ways she hopes to pass a legacy of resistance along to her descendants. The exhibition also includes photographs, interactive spaces, and a workshop series that invites the public to engage in the process of undoing internalized racism by working with their own inherited objects or stories.
Inheritance of White Silence began as an excavation about the ways that Brancato, as a white person, is complicit in the system of white supremacy. It has grown into an understanding of racism as trauma, which, when internalized, breeds violence. As Resmaa Menakem says, “Most of us think of trauma as something that occurs in an individual body, like a toothache or a broken arm. But trauma also routinely spreads between bodies, like a contagious disease.” This exhibition and project is based on the artist’s belief that internal work to unearth racism and deal with racialized trauma is essential to visioning a new, freer, and just world.
About Hannah Brancato
Hannah Brancato (she/her) is an artist and educator based in Baltimore, Md. who is dedicated to mobilizing visual culture to uproot and resist white supremacy and rape culture. She is co-founder of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture and was part of the collective until 2020. Currently, Brancato is documenting the role of art in social justice work through her creative and teaching practice, and, based on her recent project, is organizing a series of collaborative art-making workshops about the inheritance of white silence. She is a recipient of the 2021 Rubys Artist Grant for Dreamseeds, a new collaboration about visioning the future, with sound artist Sanahara Ama Chandra. Brancato is a VisArts Studio Artist, Montgomery College Fall 2021 Artist in Residence, and faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Towson University, and UMBC.
Edgar Reyes’ Unravel is centered around reflecting on his family’s history and the distinct places they have called home, documenting their stories, and collecting photos from their archives and Mexican street markets. His interest lies in the mementos people cherish and the layers of loss endured from migration and the passing of loved ones. Reyes believes that the most precious memories play a vital role in helping us cope with loss and displacement. Many of the pieces he has created are filled with visual layers that represent the hope and pain we have, and continue to endure, as many of us seek refuge. The imagery alludes to his ancestral past and his family’s spiritual connection with plants.
About Edgar Reyes
Edgar Reyes is a multimedia artist based in the Baltimore, Md. and Washington, DC area. Reyes earned his MFA. from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and has taught at nonprofit organizations, schools, and museums. He was a 2021 VisArts Bresler Resdient. Many of his projects are autobiographical and a reflection of his personal journey as an undocumented youth in the U.S. Reyes is driven by the desire to raise awareness and question the displacement of his community.
Reyes explores how the blending of Indigenous and European traditions is an ongoing process of conquest and resistance. His art practice highlights the beauty of being Mexican American while questioning his national and cultural traditions. He challenges social norms to express what it means for him to be labeled Latino. His art making is centered around building compassion and understanding regarding the complex history of forced and voluntary resettlement throughout the Americas.
Safiyah Cheatam’s Things Imagined is a multimedia social practice installation that uses the halo motif to externalize and visually manifest the hopes of its Afro-diasporic participants.
Retrofitted for COVID-19, the first iteration of this project was held as a group facilitation in November 2019. At that time, twelve participants wrote on mirrors with vinyl halo cutouts, answering the question, “Unlimited and unbound, how do you imagine your ideal future?” Cheatam held this event as a consciousness-raising initiative for Mundane Afrofuturism.
Things Imagined includes images from an accompanying Instagram filter prompting users to draw their answers to various questions, as well as video snippets from Black elders who share nuggets of wisdom about their own full lives and the things they’ve manifested through prayer.
Cheatam’s use of the halo is symbolic of the space around your mind— bringing your dreams, wants and desires outside of your head and into the world. This exercise helps you see it in physical space, with your eyes, as the first step toward actualizing it. Together, we place those ideas within a space of importance because everyone is deserving, regardless of wealth or class.
Mundane Afrofuturism encourages celebration of the everyday, and in this, Cheatam uplifts even the most basic wants because she intends to promote a growth mindset where we can hope to have more than just our needs met. We can have it all.
About Safiyah Cheatam
Safiyah Cheatam is a visual artist, researcher, storyteller, arts educator, and administrator based in Baltimore, Md. She focuses on material culture and social phenomena involving Black Muslims in the U.S. and the role of Afrofuturism in Black folks’ daily lives, through which she explores the nuances of duality existing within Black and Muslim people. For her work as a co- producer of her awards-nominated podcast, OBSIDIAN, she is the recipient of a Red Bull Arts Microgrant and a Rubys Artist Grant from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. Cheatam was a 2021 VisArts Bresler Resident and has notably collaborated with the Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum, Morgan State University’s Center for the Study of Religion in the City, Black Islam Syllabus, and Rap Research Lab. She has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, and BmoreArt, and has exhibited artworks nationally.
Unbearably to be joined with the needles of the cactus. Brackish soil keeping its secrets from everybody. I am not singing. Somebody is.
Fargo Tbakhi’s ANTIGONE. VELOCITY. SALT. is a staging ground for new myths; a book of poetry; a ramshackle shroud of language and grief; an invitation into a wider mourning. There are creatures to be tended to.
Using found and natural materials alongside audio recordings of a fragmented poetic retelling to create a stage for co-created performative interventions and activations, ANTIGONE. VELOCITY. SALT. offers the frame of the Antigone myth to articulate the ways in which Palestinian grief is policed – physically by the Israeli state and imagistically by the imperial imagination across the globe.
Songs of dirt destroy things. Moments of interactivity in the performances and rituals of the exhibit encourage audiences to move beyond the passive mode of witness and towards solidarity. Abjection spills out into dailiness. Retribution, ideology, hammer, salt, keening. To be here and not to be gone; to be gone and still to be here.
About Fargo Tbakhi
Fargo Tbakhi is a queer Palestinian performance artist, a Taurus, and a cool breeze. He was a 2021 VisArts Bresler Resident.
VisArts Faculty Exhibition 2022
January 7-February 6
VisArts’ Education department offers art classes in a wide variety of media for all ages and skill levels. The 2022 Faculty Exhibition highlights the work of several talented, dedicated VisArts instructors.
Nanette Bevan, Xiaosheng Bi, Janet Greer, Lamine Hamdad, Ann Hobart, Michelle Izquierdo, Kate Lanxner, Roza Matlin, Elaine Parks, Kiel Posner, Martina Sestakova, Kimberly Swanner, Virginia Warwick, Eric Westbrook
VisArts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a hub for the visual arts that engages nearly 30,000 visitors annually through contemporary art exhibitions, a studio artist program, art classes and camps, VisAbility Art Lab (a supported studio for artists with disabilities), community art programs, the annual Rockville Arts Festival, and event space. Founded in 1987, VisArts is committed to our mission of transforming individuals and communities through the visual arts.
- Wednesday-Thursday: 12-4 p.m.
- Friday: 12-8 p.m.
- Saturday-Sunday: 12-4 p.m.
Exhibitions are free and open to the public. Visit www.visartscenter.org or call 301.315.8200 for more information.
VisArts is in Rockville Town Square, at 155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD.