The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery Presents Mind | BODY | Soul Healing the Outside from Within Group Exhibition

Elyse Harrison, Small Steps in the Right Direction. Courtesy of Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery.
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Opening Reception: Friday, October 4 from 7pm to 9pm
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Gallery Talk: Saturday, October 19 from 1pm to 3pm

Curated by Lindsey Yancich and Megan Mowery

In today’s fast-paced world of technology, social media, and a volatile political climate, American society’s opinions regarding body image are constantly evolving and oftentimes treacherous to navigate. Through platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, a younger generation is now dictating and interrogating their own ideals of beauty and body positivity. In this group exhibition, Mind, BODY, Soul, this new generation of artists and thinkers explore concepts of the body as a catalyst for healing and acceptance.

Mary Kate Bailey is a Washington, D.C. based artist working primarily in oil paint. Her work explores themes such as femininity, kinship, and death through unexpectedly colorful paintings. Each painting contains layers of imagery that are individually pleasant but collaged together to create a darker narrative.

Loring Davena Boglioli is a fiber artist. Working solely from repurposed clothing, felts and various found objects, Loring fuses venerated sewing practices, two common embroidery stitches and innovative design to express various themes, styles and imagery in her appliqued hangings. Inspiration, material and method merge and epitomize the found-object tradition, meeting criteria for “sustainability.” Blended woolens and synthetic felts in her works are manufactured from 80% to 100% post-consumer goods. Hand cut and stitched textiles result in completely original unique designs detailed with assorted found objects, which further amplify the visual freshness, enthusiasm, intensity and sophisticated naïveté trademark in her work.

Inspired by clothing labels dissembled from recycled coats and a gift of clothing labels from her sister, in her current series, “Fear, Fashion and Acceptance”, she explores the oppressive media branding and social and economic manipulation of women to conform to the latest fashion trends, regardless of body type, economy or personal needs. The materials and techniques in the series express her ongoing body image challenges, poverty and social rejection within her abusive childhood.

Traveling through a maze of sky and earth. I am intact even as my body and soul scatter, ailing and healing once again.

Like a dance, like a joke, like tinkling laughter. Sparkling star breasts, fireworks, dancing in the universe, blessings. Beauty—a durable celebration.

Margery Gordon is an artist who uses various mediums – painting, drawing, making collages, and doing photography. Recently she completed a series of artworks of waterlilies, and a series where she puts the human figure looking out towards the future in various settings. These places were all crucial to her healing. She survived a bout with cancer and other physical problems that led her to create the artworks. She is focused both on her hand used to make these artworks and on placing strong figures that celebrate their bodies in various settings. She wants to place viewers into the artwork and have a feeling of timelessness.

Deborah’s current body of work, A Clear Unspoken Magic, is inspired by the history of the use of cultural, spiritual, and religious artifacts to avert evil and insure health and well being for those who believe in their power. Like the artifacts and stories behind them that inspire her work, the figures in this series are created to embody and imbue a sense of magic, protection, hope, and healing. The vessel-like shapes that she constructs symbolize home and spirit, and serve as a literal and figurative place for the viewer to house memorabilia, dreams or to add additional artifacts for healing and protection within the shadowbox. Comprised of clay that she uses to sculpt faces and embellishments, fibers, and materials that are painted, wired, fused or stitched together, she presents several pieces from her series as an offering to the viewer for their peace, their healing, and their protection during these tumultuous times.

Certainty: A painting about body image confidence and the connection to water as a primal source for healing.

Small Steps in the Right Direction: Moving into the unknown, walking through unexpected terrain while trusting our instincts.

Elyse’s current paintings feature imaginary figures captured in moments of real-life challenges – challenges such as transcending loneliness, processing grief, mustering confidence or fueling ambition. Their bodies and faces are composed using exaggerated proportions, unconventional palettes and impossible postures, intentionally applied to further define their situations. But just as pertinent, is the focused, self-determination evident in their body language as they attempt to confront and resolve their struggles. The physical attributes of the paintings themselves, patiently rendered in precise compositions, serve as a metaphor for the steadiness and clarity we seek to achieve more autonomy, authenticity, self-love and courage.

Scott’s paintings and drawings are comprised of overlapping figures stitched together in one composition. They are multifaceted, abstracted, and meant to evoke the idea that our identity is in flux. Though we are singular beings, our psyche is not. We are molded in part by time and our life experiences.

The subjects in his paintings personify the strength and frailty of consciousness and the depths to which we experience the human condition. The figures are displaced, out of sync and stitched together from a multitude of people, like ghosts or layered memories, both timeless and self-aware.

All of his work can be seen as a journal entry, the manifestation of a deep concern for place and purpose in this world. He reassigns faces and body parts through a mixture of trial and error, coupled with random chance and the need to create something from nothing. During this process, he is fully aware that he is seeking answers to a larger question: Are we in control of what defines us as individuals, or are we a product of our culture and our experiences? His art is meant to tug at the viewer and suggest that there is more to the material world. Each piece is intentionally shrouded in mystery, letting the viewer interpret its multitude of meanings.

Maia has been drawing since she could get a pencil into her grubby little hands. While her 5-year-old drawings predominantly featured withered female figures with claws, her current work continues to focus on the uncomfortable nature of existing within a body. She finds it relieving to create a painting that is simultaneously pleasing yet upsetting. She was trained as a biological illustrator; whose job is to convey scientific information about an object. When starting a piece, she uses the same disciplined techniques that biological illustration entails. However, as she continues to paint, her formal method unravels. This realistic framework can provide an ease to slip into viewing the work that is then infiltrated by a feeling of uneasiness at realistically “incorrect” angles, colors, or textures that our eyes instinctively recognize as unnatural. Yet, this is what she evokes to communicate the experience of existing inside a body which is continually under outside scrutiny. This method results in faces fragmented by color, exaggerated shadows, and twisted bodies that convey her honest account of compulsively creating art whose appearance quickly slips from her control to emotional instinct. She finds that the mediums of watercolor, acrylic, and ink best aid this process and final outcome due to their precise yet chaotic properties. For her, painting is a solitary and exhausting ritual which is neither a choice or comfortable, and rarely completed.

Reflected in her multi-dimensional works, Lex’s diverse portfolio mirrors her journey as a woman, mother and millennial. She is inspired by her daily life and the life of her peers and generation. Lex works with oil and acrylic on canvas and uses multiple painting techniques ranging from realism to abstract in just one piece. This draws viewers in making them question the connection of the many aspects of the painting.

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Bowie, MD, Sasha-Loriene captures her thoughts, feelings, and interpretation of the world in every piece. The goal of her art is to tell a story and create a personal experience that encourages others to not only reach deeper within each piece, but within themselves, as well. As such, her passion and raw talent have ignited her lifelong mission of encouraging creativity, thought, and expression in the community – participating in several events in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York, California, and Florida.

Currently, Sasha-Loriene’s art focuses on uplifting women. As she digs deeper into finding her place as a woman in the arts and defining what femininity means to her, Sasha-Loriene uses her work to challenge the status quo. She incorporates bold colors, an array of lines and shapes, and delicate subject matter to redefine how women are viewed and revered in society. With growing support and drive for success, Sasha-Loriene continues to flourish as an eccentric artist and inspiration for others interested in influencing the culture of art.

Mayah Lovell is a black lesbian latinx from suburban-area D.C. Her work is grounded in transcendental trauma beside black queer ancestors and awakened by my practice of dream recall, radical love, and ritualism. The multi-dimensional planes of this work, in addition to intersecting abstract and realism techniques reveals the fluidity, power, and vulnerability of lesbianism.

Her artistry incorporates a conglomerate of mediums which are synthesized by cultivating essence through mixed materials. By portraying transparency and intimacy of bodymind exchange, complacency in overt sexualism, and exploitation of digital “selfies” to reclassify self-portraiture, Mayah illustrates the psyche of neo-erotica to combat spiritual warfare against racial, sexual, and physical dysphoria.

In a world where media as a whole plays a huge part in how people move in their everyday lives. It is the job of genuine artists to create a more realistic picture of what life is outside of the screens we hold in our hands throughout the day. When it comes to women, we are constantly judged on different mediums about how we look, act, take care of our children and much more.

In this particular work, the goal was to display a woman in her element being free. We went against not only social media standards, but society standards. Women are expected to be fully covered and reserved in order to be respected, when, in fact women should be respected in all walks of life. Shae’s purpose as an artist here is to make things perceived as provocative, normal again. A woman should be able to look at her surroundings and feel like she has backing and not like she is backed into a wall. If the world doesn’t have her back, Shae does.

Scott Mullins in a New Jersey based queer biracial photographer, focused in exploring lived experience and identity through portraiture. He investigates human connection to both self and others through his work. He explores topics of intimacy, self realization, the dichotomy of internal identification versus outside perception, and personhood. These pieces present and uncover the physical body while maintaining ambiguity of the subject, highlighting the barriers of the physical state in the definition of personhood.

This is a vibrant acrylic painting that captures the beauty of life forms in an erotic, intense, seductive, yet intimate fashion. It is monochromatic, multicolored or a merger between the two hues. It is a 2-dimensional canvas expanded into a 3-dimensional, transformative environment. It is the ethos of past generations or the essence of contemporary society. It is a tangible masterpiece that breaks the interpretation of what society considers “traditional art”. It is Colorful, Collaborative, Cultural and Classic.

The Altered States series was born out of the necessity for time away from the world, alone time in order to protect and rearm oneself against the traumas of the day.

Alexandra’s figures find themselves in conversation with their subconscious selves, free from the weight of being in an often-uncooperative body. They are set adrift in dreams and fathom something other. They find themselves weightless rising through the air, or falling after having let go of something which might have been holding them captive. Her spirit carries my body – her will governing the flesh.

There is cohesion in the collision of abstracted hue. Focusing on the intimacy of human relationship, emotion, and self-preservation, Yemonja creates and communicates by joining the hands of color in various mediums. Through deconstructed and re-assembled cut materials, paint, and sometimes just ink, she investigates restoration with precision. The chemistry of colors combined are held together, even in fracture, everything remains whole.

Through use of paint, collage, paper-cuts and other media, she seeks to build through focused deconstruction, and examine the process of holding even brokenness of spirit tenderly though reassembly. Her preparation as an art therapy intern has been informed by experiences working with caregivers, staff, therapists, and the youth and older adults they support who have experienced trauma. Emphasis on self-care remains central to her practice and in the pieces she creates.

Uzuri roughly translates to beauty in Swahili. With this piece Jasmine highlights the beauty and intricacies of braided hairstyles in the black community. Hairstyles that are iconic to parts of Ethiopia, Namibia, South Africa, and the U.S. as well as master braiders like Shani Crowe and Stasha Harris influenced the braid patterns displayed on this dress. The creation process felt like a day at the hair salon. Each synthetic braid was prepped, braided, pinned , then hand sewn. It took a total of 96 hours to put the entire look together.

Dying to Be Beautiful utilizes ammunition and spent casings to illustrate the dangers of American beauty products. These cosmetics contain hazardous toxins and carcinogenic compounds that are perfectly legal for sale here, yet have been banned overseas.

The European Union has banned close to 2,000 chemicals and additives from use in cosmetics and personal care products. In contrast, the FDA still permits the usage of these. The E.U. itemization is provided and it is 58 pages in length.

Viewing art is an act of intimacy. You give Debra a gift by allowing her into your safe space, and trust her to show you things that excite, compel or challenge you. This is a privilege and Debra does not take for granted. She hopes to give you something that resonates with your soul and wants to forge a bond between you and her that endures long after you have left the canvas.

Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell is a fine artist and mixed media designer from Denver, CO. She started out as an oil portrait painter doing photo realism and expressionist portraits before moving into abstract portraits in acrylic and collage work with paper and fabric. Her work is largely composed of messages regarding the experience of the Black woman in America. Her aim is to create pieces that are definitive around the culture of Black America as a tribe of new American African people whose existence began during the transatlantic slave trade.

Terrell uses stitch patterns from traditional Black American quilt work and stained-glass cubism to create the angles for her abstract portraits. Each line and texture is a part of the story being told in the paintings. They are a blueprint for culture speaking to how enslaved Blacks would use designs on quilts or in their hair to pass messages. Her work further explores ideals of dandyism and how Black Americans use fashion to signal their freedom and success. Motherhood and sisterhood in the Black community are central themes to the work.

Zsudayka is very interested in creating specialized skin tones and hair textures for each of her subjects. She enjoys putting Black women of varying shades and tones beside each other, overlapping and demonstrating the multitude of black skin, styles, hair textures, and types of woman in the community. All of her subjects have natural hair and their hair is designed to give an electric impression, capturing the energy and importance of the black woman’s hair.

Zsudayka Nzinga’s work contains a lot of patterns and symbolism. The patterns are inspired by textile fabrics, Ankara and other culture fabric patterns. There are often reoccurring images such as piano keys and butterflies. She copies collage styles in the angles she creates in her portraiture to create overlapping figures, sharply shaped. Each piece mimics a textile creation as an ode to the fabric of the Black American African. They are meant to be representative cultural images exclusive to the experience of those who are descendants of enslaved people. Her pieces are what she considers afrofuturist in that they demonstrate the progression and complication of the Black identity as it evolves.

The Joan Hisaoka Gallery is located at 1632 U Street NW.