Gallery Openings and Events

November 2019 Exhibitions at VisArts Gallery

Giulia Piera Livi, A Place With Outdoor Space, 2019, mixed media and foam, 8 x 10 x 0.25 ft installation. Courtesy of VisArts.

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Reception & Artist Talk: Friday, November 8 from 7pm to 9:30pm
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Giulia Piera Livi: Touch/Plush
October 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Gibbs Street Gallery, VisArts, 1st floor
Reception and Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 7 – 9:30 PM
Working in painting and installation, Giulia Piera Livi investigates desire and consumption, focusing on the absurdity, appeal, and aesthetics of curated home spaces. She plays with the idea that paintings and the objects in a home can trade roles and upend expectations surrounding the decorative, functional, and domestic.

About the artists:
Giulia Piera Livi is an interdisciplinary artist originally Philadelphia, now living and working in Baltimore City. She earned a B.F.A. from Penn State University and an M.F.A. from the Mount Royal School at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).  Her work in painting and installation is an investigation of interior space and design, focusing on abstraction and accessibility. Her immersive rooms employ color and form to work out ideas of multifunctional art objects and curated domesticity. Livi has exhibited both nationally and internationally with recent solo shows at 13|U Art Windows (Washington, D.C.), VAE  Gallery (Raleigh, NC), Arlington Arts Center (Arlington, VA), and School 33 Art Center’s Project Space (Baltimore, MD). She received an Individual Artist Grant from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2019 and the Trawick Young Artist Prize from the Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards in 2017.  Livi is currently a Gallery Manager at C. Grimaldis and an Adjunct Professor at MICA. www.giuliapieralivi.com

Britny Wainwright, Bed Made, 2018, terra-cotta, painted canvas, wood, house paint, foam, 28 x 44 x 24 inches. Courtesy of VisArts.

Britny Wainwright: Bedclothes
October 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Gibbs Street Gallery, VisArts, 1st floor
Reception and Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 7 – 9:30 PM
Britny Wainwright’s exhibition features several new works that continue her vision of decoration as a medium of power. The objects in Bedclothes are transformations of pattern into sculpture. Wainwright explores the intersection of materials: ceramic, fiber, and paint to estrange the things we’re most familiar with. Everyday domestic situations are referenced in the objects of Bedclothes. Padded and patterned blankets are slung over wooden racks. A half-made too-small bed occupies a corner of the gallery. But this work is a stranger. The colors are overly saturated, and any utility has been removed. Instead, they function as visual objects.

Bedclothes borrows repetitive domestic motifs from couches, curtains, and wallpaper. Modernism excluded these decorative things from being powerful; tied them to femininity and a lack of self-control. Wainwright reclaims this practice with a feminist agenda. She rejects the passive qualities associated with it, and instead uses it with authority. Deeply invested in pulling apart the historically gendered hierarchy surrounding decoration and high art, she advocates for assertive decorative language in the gallery.

About the artist:
Britny Wainwright (1990) employs ceramic and mixed material to construct sculpture that blends traditions of painting and ornament. Deeply invested in pulling apart the historically gendered hierarchy surrounding decoration and high art, she advocates for assertive decorative language in the gallery. Britny has shown at The Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY, The “X Space” Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, and The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA, among others. Several works will be featured in an upcoming travelling exhibition The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art, set to begin at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art summer 2018. Currently, Britny is serving as Visiting Assistant Professor in Ceramics at Denison University in Granville, Ohio for the 2017-18 academic year. She earned an M.F.A. in ceramics from Ohio State University in 2017, and a B.F.A. from Alfred University in 2012. In 2013 she held the position of Chili Bowl Intern at The Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York. Britny was born and raised in upstate New York, and is now based in Columbus Ohio. www.britnywainwright.com

Murjoni Merriweather, JACCI, 2019, clay, jewelry, 15 inches (H). Courtesy of VisArts.

The Radical Act of Taking Up Space
Curated by Kiara Cristina Ventura, 2019 Emerging Curator for the VisArts Emerging Curator Program
November 6, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Kaplan Gallery, VisArts, 2nd Floor
Reception and Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 7 – 9:30 PM
The Radical Act of Taking Up Space, curated by Kiara Ventura, examines how eight young artists of color are redefining what taking up space means in today’s contemporary society. Mainly comprised of artists from Baltimore, the artists collectively present the many ways traditionally marginalized communities can alternatively create, transform, and take up space as an act of survival, resistance, healing, and/or confrontation. The Radical Act of Taking Up Space brings into focus the communities that are deliberately overlooked in the U.S. in which they are being pushed to the margins of society. By centering their narratives told from their perspectives, the exhibition and artists radically take up space within the gallery and beyond.

Through video, sculpture, photography, performance, and painting, the artists activate viewers by stirring conversations around visibility, representation, agency, and inclusion with their work. They collectively speak to their communities and inherently those who are not from their communities to engage dual dialogues. At its core, the exhibition speaks to the Baltimore, low-income, African-Diasporan, immigrant, and queer communities. The Radical Act of Taking Up Space includes artists Devin Allen, Murjoni Merriweather, Moréna Espiritual, Charles Johnson, Khari Johnson Ricks, Tanya Garcia, Samantha Vassor, and Amani Lewis.

About the 2019 Emerging Curator: Kiara Cristina Ventura is a Dominican-American journalist and independent curator from the Bronx who aims to be a support for emerging artists especially those from underrepresented communities in the art world. Connecting with artists and creating exhibitions with an extensive amount of programs are crucial parts of Ventura’s practice. Ventura graduated with a B.A. in Art History and Journalism at NYU in May 2018. In the past, she has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cosmopolitan Magazine for Latinas, Art Forum, Grey Art Gallery, Independent Curators
International, and the Brooklyn Museum. In July 2018, she began teaching art history classes about modern and contemporary artists of color to combat Euro-centric art history curriculums and make this information accessible to the general public.

Ventura won the BAS Bronx Emerging Curators Open Call which resulted in her most recent exhibition, FOR US. Ventura curated FOR US (March 31 – May 12), a reflection of loud unapologetic portraits by 8 young women of color. Artworks speak to the artists’ history, lineage, and pressures of daily lived experience. FOR US was recently reviewed in Art Forum’s Summer 2018 magazine issue. Ventura created Artsy Window as an art blog in 2015 and has expanded it as an art platform that curates exhibitions and programs since. Her ultimate goal is to continue creating inclusive spaces for emerging artists whether through articles, content, or physically through carefully curating creative environments. www.kiaraventura.com

About the 2019 Mentor for the VisArts Emerging Curator Program:
Larry Ossei-Mensah is a Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic who uses contemporary art and culture as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. He has organized exhibitions and projects with artists at commercial and nonprofit spaces around the globe from, including: Firelei Báez, Ruby Amanze, Hugo McCloud, Brendan Fernandes, and Peter Williams.

Ossei-Mensah currently serves as the Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). He also is a co-founder of the 501c3 ARTNOIR in addition to being the guest curator launching Brooklyn Academy of Music‘s new Rudin Family Gallery in Fall 2019. www.larryosseimensah.com

About the 21st Century VisArts Emerging Curator Program:
The VisArts Emerging Curator Program pairs an emerging curator with an experienced mentoring curator to produce new exhibitions and related programming.

Leah Lewman, Shift in Perspective, 2016, oil on panel, 51 x 43 x 1.75 inches. Courtesy of VisArts.

Erasing Places
Leah Lewman
October 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Concourse Gallery, VisArts, 2nd floor
Reception and Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 7 – 9:30 PM
Leah Lewman presents paintings and mixed media work inspired by the repeated flooding of historic Ellicott City, Maryland and the recent California wild fires. Her works and process of making explore ever-changing landscapes and cityscapes in the process of breaking down and building back up under natural and manmade forces.

About the Artist:
Leah Lewman is an artist whose current work focuses on the visual relationship between a viewer and a landscape when an architectural window separates the two. Lewman has exhibited her work in spaces across the country, including the 2012 National Juried Exhibition at the Art Institute & Gallery in Salisbury, Maryland, featuring juror Ethan Karp of the OK Harris Gallery in New York; Landscape at Escape Velocity, a 2015 Exhibition at Fine Arts Complex 1101 in Tempe, Arizona; and the 2016 Wet Paint M.F.A. Biennial Exhibition at the Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago, Illinois. Lewman received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting in 2013 from Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. In May 2017, she received an M.F.A. in 2D Studio Art at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she served for 3 years as Instructor of Record. www.leahlewman.com

Sobia Ahmad, Pixels, 2019, Woven maps and paper with India ink. Courtesy of VisArts.

Sobia Ahmad
Wherever you are is called Here
October 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Common Ground Gallery, VisArts, 2nd floor
Reception and Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 7 – 9:30 PM
Weaving Google maps screenshots and images of her childhood home in Pakistan with the various locations she finds herself in the U.S. now, Ahmad creates intricate anti-flags that reference ambiguity of place and nationality. Doing so, she envisions ‘home’ for someone who is uprooted as a mythical place, one that is geographically unattainable and ever-shifting due to larger sociopolitical climates.

About the artist:
Born and raised in Pakistan, Sobia Ahmad moved to the United States at the age of fourteen. She is a 2016 graduate of the Bachelor’s in Studio Arts and the Honors Art Program at the University of Maryland College Park. Her work has been included in the Sadat Art for Peace permanent collection, and has been displayed in the Washington D.C. metro area, in Los Angeles at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and in several other cities including Chicago, Seattle, and London. Ahmad was awarded an artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center for Spring 2018. www.sobiaahmad.com

About the Next Generation/Sanctuary Studio Fellowship:
The Next Generation/Sanctuary Studio Fellowship provides support for a promising contemporary visual artist who is emerging and/or a recently relocated refugee or asylee. The fellowship includes mentorship, a studio residency of one year, a solo exhibition, opportunities to share and exchange with the public through teaching, workshops, open studio visits, artist talks, and a community of artist peers. The mentor will assist the Fellow with the development of creative and professional goals, access to resources and services, navigation of local artist opportunities for the exposure of the fellow’s work, and exchange of ideas. Currently Fellows are selected through nomination and invitation only.

The Next Generation/Sanctuary Studio Fellow joins a community of artist peers who are part of the VisArts Studio Artist Program. The program provides individual artists or collaborative artist teams with opportunities for creative exploration, professional development, public exchange, and critical dialogue in a supportive studio environment. The program is based on generosity, respect, and interaction.

Megan Koeppel, ermillion Poppies, Dimensions variable, Papier-mâché, soft sculpture and paint, 2019. Courtesy of VisArts.

Megan Koeppel
Childhood Love Lessons
September 27, 2019 – January 5, 2020
355 Pod Space
Reception and Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 7 – 9:30 PM
Manipulating pulverized paper pulp and textile scraps, installation artist Megan Koeppel explores materiality, pattern, color and form by taking familiar everyday items and transforming them into precarious, stacked, bulging and winding assemblages that evoke an organic almost bodily feel that is at once playful and mysterious. In her work she attempts to make soft pieces stand, durable pieces slump, and hard surfaces appear soft. The new works in this exhibition broadly shift in scale from being hand held, richly patterned objects, to spacious stretches of color inhabited by abstract characters.

About the artist:
Megan Koeppel (b. 1996 Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a sculptor and installation artist currently working in Baltimore MD. She earned her B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2018, where she studied fine art and curatorial practices. Her work has recently been exhibited in the Baltimore area, along with galleries in her home state such as; Var Gallery (Milwaukee WI 2019), Main Gallery: University of Madison (Madison WI 2018), Main Building: MICA Campus (Baltimore MD 2018), Material Gallery + Studio (Milwaukee WI 2018) Cade Gallery at Anne Arundel Community College (Arundel County MD 2019), and at VisArts (Rockville MD 2018). She currently works as an arts administrator at School 33 Art Center in Baltimore M.D., and is a curator at John Fonda Gallery at the Baltimore Theater Project. www.meganclairekoeppel.com

The 355 Pod Space is a partnership between VisArts and Federal Realty Investment Trust to present site-specific artist installations through the end of 2019.

VisArts at Rockville is located three blocks from the Rockville Metro station at 155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD.