Solas Nua Presents The Space We Occupy at Whittle School and Studios

By Editorial Team on June 27, 2022

Sat, 09 July 2022 - Sun, 31 July 2022

George Bolster. You Are Made of Stardust. Photo Nir Airelli
Opening: Saturday, July 9 at 2pm

Solas Nua, Washington, DC’s premier contemporary Irish arts organization, will present an exhibition of work by Irish visual artists Neil Carroll, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Colin Crotty, Katie Holten, Fiona Kelly and George Bolster, curated by Solas Nua’s Executive Director, Miranda Driscoll. Presented by in partnership with the Irish Arts Center, New York, The Space We Occupy is a group exhibition of work by six visual artists based in Dublin, Cork and New York City. The artists represent the depth and breadth of contemporary visual art being made across the island of Ireland today and by the many Irish artists who call the U.S. home.  The works consider our relationship with place and time; from the macro to the micro—Earth’s place in the solar system, humankind’s brief time on Earth, the place we occupy in community and the physical relationship between artwork and viewer.

Originally conceived to mark the opening of the New Irish Arts Center building in New York, the exhibition now travels to Washington, D.C., to occupy the spectacular Whittle School and Studios in the North Cleveland Park neighborhood. Formerly used as the U.S. headquarters of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat), the building is known for its futuristic, high-tech architecture. Designed by the Australian architect John Andrews, Intelsat’s design became an important model for environmentally conscious and energy saving architecture. At the time of its construction, the new Intelsat headquarters was one of the first green buildings in Washington, DC.

The Space We Occupy will be on view free to the public July 9-31 at the Whittle School & Studios, 3400 International Dr NW, Washington, DC, 20008. All are welcome. Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador from Ireland, will open the exhibition at 2pm on Saturday July 9; exhibition curator Miranda Driscoll and exhibition artists George Bolster, Neil Carroll and Fiona Kelly will be in attendance.

This exhibition originated at the Irish Arts Center in New York City and is supported by Culture Ireland. Special thanks to all of the artists and Rachael Gilkey, Director of Programming, Irish Arts Center.


Ailbhe Ní Bhriain

An Irish artist whose practice incorporates film, computer generated imagery, collage, tapestry, print and installation, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain creates work rotted in an exploration of imperial legacy, human displacement and the Anthropocene. These intertwined subjects are approached through associative use of narrative and a painstakingly crafted visual language that verges on the surreal. Ní Bhriain sidesteps directive positions and familiar binaries, exposing instead the layers of ambiguity and contradiction embedded in these fraught issues. The resulting worlds she creates are at once idiosyncratic, irresistible and deeply unsettling. She received her MA from the Royal College of Art in London and was awarded a PhD by practice from Kingston University, UK. Her work has shown widely internationally, with exhibitions at RHA, Dublin; Broad Museum, Michigan; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Paris Photo; Hammer Museum, LA; and Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid among others. Ní Bhriain is represented by Domobaal Gallery, London and public collections of her work include Trinity College, Dublin, Office of Public Works, Ireland, The Arts Council of Ireland, and Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Colin Crotty

Colin Crotty’s work creates densely layered, figurative compositions that reference current politics and popular storytelling devices. His paintings often deploy art historical motifs to explore themes of social mimicry and human displacement. Situated within a shifting terrain of interior and exterior spaces; moments of transition overlap familiar experiences with encounters of a more dream-like, ambivalent nature. Colin Crotty lives and works in Dublin. He studied an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art, London and a BA Fine Art, CIT Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork. Solo exhibitions include RAUM Galerie, Dusseldorf, Germany (2019); Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin (2018); Matthias Erngtes Galerie, Düsseldorf, Germany (2017); Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Cork, Ireland (2016).

Group exhibitions include MOVING SPACES, Glucksman Gallery, UCC, Cork (2020); PERIODICAL REVIEW, Pallas Projects, Dublin (2020); Dearly Beloved, Artworks 2019, VISUAL, Carlow Arts Festival; DROP Beyond Boundaries, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore (2017); PERIPHERIES, Soul-Beating, Co. Wexford (2017); TULCA Festival of Visual Arts (2015). Recent awards include Art Council Bursary Award (2019); Culture Ireland Travel Award (2019); RHA residency award, Dublin (2016). Public collections include Arts Council of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin Art Collection, University College Cork Art Collection and Office Public Works, Ireland.

Fiona Kelly

Fiona Kelly’s research into wasteland and abandoned spaces alludes to isolation and the interim. Her observations of the man-made landscape, topographic movement, stagnation and metamorphosing debris become representations; characters in contemporary fables who narrate a legacy of the interim, disposability and the Anthropocene; the time we exist in now. Based in Cork, Kelly is currently the inaugural Artist in Residence at GannonEco, A Waste Repurposing Plant in the Irish Midlands, funded by the Arts Council of Ireland (2021). Kelly’s work has been widely exhibited, most recently in New Perspectives. Acquisitions 2011–2020, National Gallery of Ireland; Overburden (Solo) Triskel Arts Centre, IE; Land of Some Other Order, Lavit Gallery, Cork, IE; Visions of Half-Light, Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, IE; Mouth of a Shark, Edinburgh Printmakers Gallery, Scotland. UK; Field Study, The Auxiliary, UK; The Dirt that Measures All Our Time, (Solo) Mermaid Arts Centre, IE; Sustainable Futures, Sirius Arts Centre, IE; The Great Heap, (Solo) Leitrim Sculpture Centre & The Luan Gallery, IE; I Went to the Woods, the artist as wanderer, GLUCKSMAN Gallery, IE. Recent notable accomplishments include the acquisition of her work by the Crawford Art Gallery for the National Collection of Ireland and appointment as Assistant Lecturer at MTU Crawford College of Art & Design. She is currently creating work for a solo exhibition at the Sirius Art Centre, Cork, in 2022.

George Bolster
In a fall 2021 review, The New York Times described George Bolster’s Armory Show exhibition as follows: “The Irish-born, New York-based artist George Bolster identifies a curious aspect of science-fiction visuals: that the most convincingly otherworldly landscapes are the ones right here on Earth. Shooting ghostly scenes of the American West on hi-res video, he picks out stills and renders them as tapestries in warm, mildly unreal colors. They’re like pharmaceutical ads from some alternate America where research on psychedelics never paused.” A multidisciplinary artist working in video, installations, drawing and sculpture, his work addresses the challenges that face humankind, challenging belief systems from various perspectives. Bolster has exhibited in numerous museums and galleries in Europe, America, Korea and Canada. Select solo shows include Tearing at the Fabric of Your Reality, Ulterior Gallery, NYC; You Are Made of Stardust, Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Meath; Tatooine: Sci-Fi Becoming Fact, Sirius Arts Centre, Cork; and sociodesic: a space for the three great loves, Galway Art Centre (2010). Group exhibitions include: Traveling to the End, MMCA, Seoul, Korea (2019); Music +Maker, Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (2019); Making Contact: SETI Artists in Residence, New Museum Los Gatos, California, USA (2016); Et si on s’était trompé?, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, France (2015); Tulca: seachange, Galway (2015); /seconds, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2014); These Days: Elegies for Modern Times, Mass MoCA, Massachusetts, USA (2009). Bolster is the recipient of residencies including: Centre Cultural Irlandais, Paris, France (2019); Elizabeth Foundation for The Arts, New York, USA (2017); and the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, Captiva, Florida, USA (2013).

Katie Holten

For over twenty years Katie Holten has made unconventional works, pushing the boundaries of ecological art. At the root of her practice is a commitment to study the inextricable relationship between Humans and Nature, between organic systems and human-made systems. Drawing is her primary research tool. Interested in exploring possibilities for multispecies storytelling and creating a way for humans to rethink their place in the Anthropocene, Holten made a Tree Alphabet and the book About Trees (Broken Dimanche Press, 2015). During lockdown she made a new Irish Tree Alphabet (Visual Carlow, 2020) and is currently developing an Explorer’s Guide to the Irish Tree Alphabet to share with schools across Ireland. An artist and environmental activist, Holten represented Ireland at the 50th Venice Biennale; her work has been exhibited in museums internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, New Orleans Museum of Art, Bronx Museum, Nevada Museum of Art, and Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. Holten has conceived major public commissions including TREE MUSEUM (2009-2010) for New York City’s Grand Concourse commissioned by the NYC Parks Department, the Bronx Museum and Wave Hill.

Neil Carroll

Neil Carroll uses painting to explore the ability of pictorial space to express a perceived shift in how we consider the anthropological condition of the human figure and the contemporary space it occupies. His work essays to manifest these changes by re-negotiating with the painting format in a broader sense, breaking with the traditional bounds of representative, objective space and forming a relationship with a more abstract, dynamic and transformable space, sometimes using materials such as household plants, wood, plaster and metal, often moving beyond the painting’s frame, to create works that can be viewed as fragments of a larger social and cultural fabric. Based in Dublin, Carroll received a MFA from the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University (June 2016) and a  BFA from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin (2010), achieving Distinction in both. In 2020, he exhibited his first institutional solo show at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), in Dublin. He was awarded the Fire Station Sculpture Studio Award, Dublin, in 2019 and the IMMA 1000 studio residency award (Irish Museum of Modern Art) in 2018. In 2017 he was selected to exhibit as part of New Contemporaries in the UK. In 2015 he was the recipient of a fellowship to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, USA. He has received artist’s bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland (2015, 2017, 2018, 2020) and his work forms part of both private and public art collections.


Solas Nua – ‘new light’ in Irish, is dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts. Founded in 2005, Solas Nua acts as an ambassador and advocate for Irish arts in the U.S., promoting contemporary Irish culture, multi-disciplinary arts and creativity. Solas Nua commissions, produces and presents thought-provoking and groundbreaking work across genres, work that is cross-cultural, representing today’s Ireland – a contemporary, globally diverse society – and reflecting how Irish culture is shared across borders, ethnicity, and economic lines.

Admission: Free

COVID Safety: Mask and proof of vaccination with photo ID required to enter.

The Whittle School and Studio, 3400 International Dr. NW.