Kaplan Gallery at VisArts Presents Come Back to Rockville!

By Editorial Team on September 3, 2015

Wed, 02 September 2015 - Sun, 18 October 2015

Naoko Wowsugi, Group Portrait Journey, 2015, Photograph. Courtesy of VisArts.
Naoko Wowsugi, “Group Portrait Journey: Rockville, Maryland”, 2015, Archival Inkjet Print, Dimensions variable. Courtesy of VisArts.


Opening Reception: Friday, September 4 from 7pm to 9pm


Come Back to Rockville! brings social practice to VisArts and the extended Rockville community. Artists Naoko Wowsugi and Graham Coreil-Allen were commissioned to create original projects investigating and initiating social networks, invisible communities and hidden public places.To quote Nicolas Bourriaud, French philosopher of relational aesthetics, “art is a state of encounter.” Rather than the traditional object-making goal of art, these artists create the conditions for social interstices, where the temporary communities formed or revealed by the artist’s actions become the work of art.

Naoko Wowsugi, a Korean woman born and raised in Japan, explores the complexity of personal identity through her portrait projects. “Group Portrait Journey in Rockville, Maryland” originates with the VisArts group: a portrait of people who work for and support this art center. The group of Board members, staff, educators, and volunteers is a microcosm of community diversity. From this template, Wowsugi spins a web of connections outward by following individuals to other groups they may belong to, and photographing these secondary connections. As the “journey” continues, the artist, photographic subjects and viewers are presented with an interwoven, revelatory composition of their community as a whole. Inspired by German photographer August Sander (1876-1864) with his systematic documentation of the people of his time, Wowsugi creates a contemporary social typology.

Wowsugi’s project “Taking It To The Roof” puts a human face on the Rockville town center. Through a series of video interviews, Wowsugi draws out some of the people who live or work around the town square with the hope of breaking down the anonymity of this privately-owned public space.

Baltimore-based artist Graham Coreil-Allen brings his New Public Sites project to VisArts with “The Ragged Edge of Rockville,” a radical mapping of “some of the invisible sites, overlooked features and literary spirits embedded in downtown Rockville.” Incorporating walking tours, interactive maps and a partially crowd-sourced exhibition, Coreil-Allen reveals Rockville’s historic foundations as they have become complicated by new suburbanism. Touchstones of the project are the circa-1815 Beall-Dawson House, the Confederate soldier monument, and the gravesite of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. The title is inspired by a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s best-known novel, The Great Gatsby, in which the narrator recalls how his birthplace in the “Middle West seems like the ragged edge of the universe now.”

Coreil-Allen will personally lead psycho-geographic tours on September 5, 27 and October 17. Beginning at VisArts, each will be a unique investigation and activation of the invisible public spaces in Rockville. No reservations required. Maps will be available at VisArts, the Rockville Public Library and Beall-Dawson House for self-guided tours.

Artist-guided Walking Tours:
September 5, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
September 27, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
October 17, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Gallery Hours:

  • 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.