Strathmore Visual Arts Presents Rise Up and Soul Soil: Works by Mojdeh Rezaeipour

By Editorial Team on September 12, 2016

Sat, 10 September 2016 - Sun, 06 November 2016

Photo courtesy of Strathmore.
Photo courtesy of Strathmore.


On view through November 6


Strathmore focuses on the viewpoints and unique experiences of women artists in the exhibitions Rise Up, part of the art center’s Shades of Blues festival, and Soul Soil: Works by Mojdeh Rezaeipour, on view in the Mansion at Strathmore from Saturday, September 10 – Sunday, November 6, 2016. In Rise Up, inspired by the idea that blues music has a transcendent healing power, members of the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA) explore the transformative, jubilant, and alleviating emotions that wash over people as they emerge from struggle. Artist Mojdeh Rezaeipour, co-owner of the arts-centered Epicure Cafe in Farifax, VA, immigrated to the United States from Iran at age 12; in Soul Soil she mines her childhood, creating assemblages using personal effects and found objects to tell her story in a narrative that explores identity and femininity across cultures.

Rise Up features 72 works by 64 artists across the country, juried by NAWA. Founded in 1889 by five women artists who were barred from the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists, as the oldest women’s fine art organization in the country, NAWA empowers, promotes, supports, and encourages women artists in the United States. This exhibition is part of Shades of Blues, Strathmore’s season-long celebration of blues music in its many forms through more than 25 events, including concerts, films, exhibitions, workshops, and lectures.

Artists in Rise Up drew inspiration from the therapeutic value of the arts, and of blues music in particular. In works ranging from the representational to the abstract, and across a tremendous variety of mediums including photography, painting, drawing, woodcut, monoprints, sumi ink, and mixed media, artists celebrate the spirit of overcoming. Despite working independently and divided by geography, certain thematic elements emerge from the collective works—colorplay with grays giving way to vibrant blue hues or warm shades of orange, yellow, and red; objects ascending toward the upper reaches of the canvas; a sense of movement; circular shapes in an expression of wholeness and balance; and visual tricks to move the eye upward.

Some artists took a more literal approach, connecting their pieces directly to a music motif, as Jill Cliffer-Baratta did with Horn Player. The viewer looks directly into the bell of a trombone, with expressive brushwork in sunnier tones that has great movement, conveying a sense of pressure or sound being emitted. Similarly, in Mandi Moerland’s Feel the Beat, a woman is jubilantly dancing, throwing her arms fully-extended into the air, her hair flowing wildly about, with one leg bent as if she’s about to leap forward. Others are more abstract, such as the mixed media piece Daring to Rise by Robin Colodzin, in which circular objects seem to ascend to the upper right corner of the canvas, as if they’ve just bounced off a surface and energetically into the air. In Little Red Riding Hood artist Margaret Minardi depicts a woman from the side, an expression of resilience on her face, standing in front of a tree; her hair is floating, as if in water, and becomes interwoven with twigs and branches as the eye moves up the piece.

In The Invitational Gallery
In artist/storyteller Mojdeh Rezaeipour’s native country of Iran, “soil” (khak in Farsi) is often synonymous with home. In Soul Soil the artist revisits her experience immigrating to the United States from Tehran as a child in an archeological dig of her past. Rezaeipour excavates her memories and personal history, then reassembles them like puzzles. The resulting works document this psychological dig into her personal history and are a reflection of herself and her struggles to examine identity, explore cultural differences, and femininity. Her assemblages are created using family photos, pictures of herself as a child juxtaposed with her as an adult, Western images of women and those of women in the hijab or traditional chador, wax, wood, and found natural objects. Her use of negative space is strong, creating uncluttered, contemplative pieces.

Education Programming
Strathmore will enhance the visitor experience of Rise Up and Soul Soil with public education programs. On Saturday, September 17, 2016 young art lovers get behind the brushstrokes during the Children’s Talk & Tour guided walkthrough and hands-on art activity based on the work in Soul Soil—collages on wood sealed in wax. That same day, at the Curator’s Tour beginning at 1 p.m., adults will learn about the artwork in Rise Up from Sonia Stark of the National Association of Women Artists.

Girl Power Meetups DC, which unites and empowers young women creatives through workshops and mentorship, partners with Strathmore to present the Make It/Take It workshop for young women in their teens and twenties on Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 1 p.m. Following a tour of the current exhibitions, artist Mojdeh Rezaeipour leads a free workshop for a take-home art project inspired by her work. Attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite crafting supplies. Additional supplies will be provided for a pay-what-you-can donation.

Gallery Hours:

  • Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10am–4pm
  • Wednesday: 10am–9pm
  • Sunday: 12–4pm

Both exhibitions will be on view at the Strathmore located at 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, MD. For additional information, visit or call (301) 581-5100.