Northern Virginia Community College’s Waddell Art Gallery | Slack (Feel Free to Be Frank)

By Editorial Team on February 28, 2022

Mon, 21 February 2022 - Fri, 01 April 2022

a collage of a person trying to see another person by artist Kristopher Heng; Paper on paper, temporarily mounted on mass-produced lumber; 22 x 75 inches; 2021.

Curated by René Treviño and featuring artworks by Amy Boone-McCreesh, Alfonso Fernandez, Kristopher Heng, Eric Johnston and Cara Ober

From the curator René Treviño: The starting point of this exhibit was collage (and bringing some of my favorite artists to NOVA Loudoun). The traditional definition of collage is a piece of art created by combining photos, clippings or small objects onto a surface. Of the artists included in this exhibit, only Kristopher Heng and Amy Boone-McCreesh neatly fit into that definition. Cara Ober creates digital collages, ditching the scissors and glue, but still combining images and textures to create her images. Alfonso Fernandez and Eric Johnston might not seem like collage artists, but they both layer images from multiple sources in creating their works. The work feels related to collage even as it maintains a painterly kind of expression.

It was such a pleasure to visit these artists’ studios. There is nothing better than a good studio visit – the colors, the mess (even if it is relatively contained), but most of all the experimentation. You get a better glimpse into who someone is if you can see their space. There is something so magical about seeing finished works alongside works in progress and maybe some experiments that might lead to future shifts. As an artist myself, I love to look at materials, piles, and implements. It sparks my imagination and inspires my own practice.

All of the work on view is a result of really thoughtful, long-term art practices. Everyone here is a serious artist who has been honing their craft for years. But at the same time, these artists are really engaged with experimentation and play. The exhibition is titled Slack (Feel Free to Be Frank). With “Slack” I mean not taut or held tightly in position, but loose. This artwork has a looseness, there is improvisational quality in all of the works on view. But with that looseness, there is also frankness. This work is political and has an agenda. Work can be about serious topics like immigration, feminism, art history, disparities in access and wealth, and LGBTQ+ rights, but it can also be experimental and FUN.

Gallery Hours:

  • Monday through Friday, 9am – 7pm

Located on the first floor of Waddell Building, 21200 Campus Drive, Sterling, VA. For more information, visit