Rhizome DC Presents Three Concurrent Exhibitions by Tionna J. Cortez, Jeff Rivers and Isabelle A. Roque

By Editorial Team on April 20, 2021
Jeff Rivers, Boys being Boys (acrylic, oil stick, magazine, fabric on paper, 47in x 72in).
On View: April 24 – May 16, 2021

Rhizome DC is proud to announce the opening of three concurrent exhibits on Sunday, April 25. Exciting young painter Jeff Rivers explores issues of cultural identity formation in a practice deeply rooted in his own family history and upbringing. Aspiring illustrator Isabelle Roque will present handmade quilts and zines reflecting on ways of healing from systemic oppression. Emerging multimedia artist Tionna Reeves has created an interactive installation meant to inspire hope in a time of despair. Together, the installations by these three dynamic local artists offer an opportunity to take stock of self in relation to community, an invitation to empathy, a call to aspire to respect and understanding.

The exhibition is open by appointment for one person or household at a time, masks required, at Rhizome DC (6950 Maple Street NW), from April 24 until May 16. In addition, Rhizome will host open gallery hours for drop-in visitors on Sunday April 25 from 10am-2pm; Saturday May 1 from noon-4pm; and Saturday May 15 from noon-4pm.

Jeff Rivers: Book of Malachi
Jeff Rivers’s visual art practice lies primarily in mixed-media painting. Through his creative process, Jeff constructs images and narratives from family photographs and 20th century African-American visual media. Jeff works to juxtapose and conglomerate cross temporal visual imagery to craft a visual narrative that bridges our understanding of how trends of consumer culture have affected our personal and social development.

In his work Jeff is discussing issues of identity, the growth and change of African American culture and how the individual has impacted the collective identity of culture. Jeff seeks to explicate middle class African American experiences of family life and trials and tribulations in these experiences such as domestic disputes and mental and physical trauma.

Tionna J. Cortez: Letters of Hope
“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” -Elie Wiesel

“Letters of Hope” is an interactive installation where the audience can come into the space and open letters from anonymous people. Receiving a message of hope and positivity. For this installation to work, the audience has to move through the room and untie the letters that are connected to the balloons to receive the message of hope. The use of the handwritten letters in the installation is to go back in time and experience when someone has written to you. The letters were written by people I know, some may be in a different language. The feel of holding a handwritten letter is the experience of a message directed to you. The thought of someone taking their time to write you, no matter who they are shows affection. The use of blue balloons in this space is to give a sense of calm and soothing experience as you walk into the room.

Isabelle A. Roque: Body + Mind Wellness Patchwork / Learn Heal Change
For my residency, I created three handmade quilts and sun printed zines. The three quilts provide illustrative imagery that represent the strength and healing of the mind and body. This pocket sized zine is a guide for activists that talks about how to reflect, heal, change and grow as a united community. To make positive change, it’s all about creating connections and cultivating solutions together that accommodates everyone. This zine is inspired by Adrienne M. Brown’s book Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, 2017. I also drew inspiration from the pandemic and the unveiling of the deep rooted systemic racism. America places harmful standards on who succeeds and who doesn’t. This society caters/ protects only to wealthy, white, cis gendered and abled bodies. These standards create an unsafe divide to our communities when we should be coming together, protecting one another. My quilts will represent the cancellation of these “standards” and will allow warmth and safety to those who have experienced oppression. Quilts are known to document history through symbolic imagery with scraps of fabric. I am using my quilts to do just that; to document the history of oppression that is repeating itself.

About the artists

Jeff Rivers is an African-American, self-taught visual artist, designer, and community advocate who works to empower minority groups through social impact art programs and street art. Rivers’ mission as an artist is to fill the cracks of need and education within the DMV community, and to provide a sustainable and impactful service through his visual art practice: “I believe it is my duty as an artist to give back and engage the community on an aesthetic and intellectual level that is accessible to marginalized populations.” Through community advocacy and art practice, Rivers works to increase access to art education and exhibition spaces for people of color. Rivers’s project-based studio practice is centered around youth art programs, social impact art projects, school murals, and education workshops. Rivers is an active arts educator who has worked across Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. and Columbia, S.C.

Tionna J. Cortez was born and raised in Washington DC. She attended college at Pratt Munson Williams-Proctor and Pratt Institute with a major in Fine Arts painting. Now graduated from Pratt, Tionna works with various materials to narrate her attention to social realism and what it means to her. She works in oil paintings, drawings, and installations to convey the significance of what it means to interpret news, ethnic backgrounds, and her memories in art. The overall content of her work comes from an emotional connection between herself and the work and how it creates a conversation for people to talk about. Moments, when the public refuse or try to avoid certain topics, Tionna insists on creating work that creates a conversation where the audience is asked to share their opinions or feelings.

My name is Isabelle Roque. I am 22 years old. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am half Salvadorian and half Filipino. Currently, I am studying Communication Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. I plan to pursue a career in illustrating editorial art and childrens books. I want to further my research on creating accessible art and activism to implement that topic in children’s imagery. Although 2020 (and some of 2021) has been nothing but unpleasant, I have truly come to understand that we need each other. By that I mean, this pandemic and systemic oppression has proven to me that healing, empathizing and understanding one another is vital for the future of our nation. This has inspired the tone of my future creative work by addressing social issues ( such as: racism, sexism and ableism and climate crisis.) I hope for my art to be a wholesome experience, I want to encourage my viewers to reflect and learn. I want my art to be accessible to all age groups because we are all still learning and growing.

Rhizome DC is located at 6950 Maple Street NW.