Hamiltonian Artists | new.now.

By Editorial Team on February 5, 2024

Sat, February 10 2024 — Sat, March 16 2024

Ali Kaeini, Hopscotch, 2023. Photo courtesy of Hamiltonian Artists
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 10 from 5-7pm


Hamiltonian Artists is pleased to present new.now., our annual group exhibition debuting the work of Hamiltonian’s distinguished 2023–2025 artist fellows: Ali Kaeini, Hien Kat Nguyen, Neha Misra, and Kat Thompson. Each year, “new.now.” serves as a snapshot of the newest Hamiltonian Artists fellows’ creative practices, exhibiting the work they plan to expand upon during their two-year fellowship.

This year the group exhibition will present artworks that recontextualize cultural, religious, and political symbols and signifiers. Across painting, sculpture, photography and games, each artist conjures a distinctive visual language in which icons, objects, images and materials are given new meaning.

While each artist’s work is grounded within the concerns and conditions of modern life, their roots are embedded within ancient traditions, intergenerational legacies and lore. Inspired by Iranian tales and Islamic architecture, Ali Kaeini’s monumental works on raw canvas traverse between representation and abstraction, pulling viewers into an ornate, liminal space occupied by childlike curiosities and unsettling disarray. Hien Kat Nguyen’s sculptures deploy juxtapositions and allegories that grapple with the implications of Vietnamese American identity and first-generation cultural assimilation. Kat Thompson’s photo-based works weave a tapestry of cultural hybridity that illuminates a slippery space somewhere between the South and the Caribbean, challenging viewers to consider the nuances of Black belonging in an ever-shifting diasporic landscape. In the spirit of possibility and play, Neha Misra’s paintings look to the horizon and bird flock migration patterns. Through beauty and poetics, Misra calls us to envision our “more than human world” through a lens of hope, empathy, and solidarity.

In conversation, the exhibited artworks will highlight the universality of storytelling and symbolism, and their innate potential as tools for cultivating common ground. Here, past and persisting tensions are brought to the surface—and still, tender embrace is within reach.

The 2023–2025 fellows were selected by an independent jury of arts professionals: Amir Byron Browder, curator and founder of HOMME, Washington, DC; Michele Carlson, artist, writer, and professor at George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design; Safiyah Cheatam, artist and cultural worker; Cynthia Hodge-Thorne, art historian and recent Curatorial Fellow at Baltimore Museum of Art; and Helina Metaferia, interdisciplinary artist, Assistant Professor of Visual Art at Brown University’s Department of Visual Art, and Hamiltonian Artists fellowship alum.

About the fellows

Ali Kaeini (he/him) is an Iranian artist and earned his Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, New York, NY, in 2019. His paintings reflect a religious society in turmoil, and the ancient civilization that has shaped his upbringing. The visual tension and displacement of ancient relics and designs within his art convey his own immigration story—a fusion of belonging and non-belonging. His art has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the US, Europe, and the Middle East, including being a finalist for the Trawick Contemporary Art Award in Bethesda in 2022 and at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA.

Hien Kat Nguyen (they/them) was born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam, and is currently living in Richmond, Virginia. They earned their Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2022. Through woodworking and 3D fabrication techniques, Nguyen creates installations and game-like sculptures that facilitate interaction and use humor to approach taboo subjects surrounding assimilation experiences. They have attended residencies at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, CO; Peters Valley School of Craft, Sandyston, NJ; and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, Richmond, VA. They were the recipient of the Windgate–Lamar Fellowship from the Center for Craft, Asheville, NC, and the Undergraduate Fellowship in Sculpture from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA. Nguyen has shown work at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond and the Anderson; Richmond, VA.

Neha Misra नेहा मिश्रा (she/her) is a contemporary eco-folk artist, poet, and an award-winning climate justice advocate. Misra’s creative practice centers her Global Majority lineage as a first-generation, multi-lingual immigrant woman from New Delhi, India, who calls a solar-powered community in the Washington metro region her adopted home. She has been honored as a Presidential Leadership Scholar, and as a Regenerative Artivist by the Design Science Studio—a partnership of the Buckminster Fuller Institute and habRitual for leading planet conscious artists. Misra is a 2022 fellow of the Public Voices Fellowship on the Climate Crisis, an initiative of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, the OpEd Project, and Ann MacDougal, to change who writes history.

Kat Thompson (she/her) is a multidisciplinary Afro-Jamaican American artist based in Virginia, who works in photography, textile, sculptural collage, and installation. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from George Mason University and her Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Film from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work combines these mediums to explore notions of Black selfhood within the African Diaspora. Her work has been exhibited at the Fenwick Gallery and the Gillespie Gallery of Art at George Mason University, and the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, Reston, VA. She was the 2021–2022 recipient of the Young Alumni Commissioning Award from George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Hamiltonian Artists is located at 1353 U St NW.