DC Arts Center | Jessica Valoris Underground Horizons

By East City Art Editorial Team on April 21, 2024

Fri, April 26 2024 — Sun, June 30 2024

Jessica Valoris
mixed media, acrylic, found objects, thread on cardboard
Opening Reception: Friday, April 26 from 7-9pm

DC Arts Center (DCAC) is proud to present Underground Horizons, a solo exhibition featuring the work of Jessica Valoris, showing in DCAC’s Nano Gallery from April 26 to June 30, 2024. Curated by Gia Harewood, Underground Horizons highlights work from Jessica Valoris’ Black Fugitive Folklore collection that honors histories of marronage and Black fugitivity through immersive study, community activations, and sacred creative practice.

Marronage is the practice of enslaved peoples’ escape and sovereign community-building in the wilderness, while Black fugitivity refers to the ways that Black people evade, capture, and imagine a world beyond the oppressions of racialized violence. Enslaved people practiced fugitivity by innovating ways to subvert the plantation system through truancy, secret gatherings, harboring fugitives, and creating networks of solidarity and care.

Today, these practices carry on through various Black cultural expressions, oral traditions, and radical political organizing. Themes of return, land reclamation, re-wilding, family re-configuration, and more have come up through a synthesis of various cultural practices and folklore.

“This work invites participants to center stories of Black resistance, community building, and solidarity, and consider what blueprints might be available as we imagine a world where abolition, reparations, lands stewardship, and transformative justice are made possible,” says curator Gia Harewood.

“Underground Horizons honors the rich history of black creative practice,” said DCAC Executive Director Sean Elias. “It also forces the viewer to reflect on how we view and judge those deemed defiant while demanding that we continue forging pathways towards collective liberation.”

This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Jessica Valoris is an interdisciplinary artist and community facilitator based in Washington, DC. She weaves together mixed media painting, installation, ritual performance, and social practice to create sacred spaces. Her art activates ancestral wisdom, personal reflection, and community study.

Inspired by the earth-based traditions of her Black American and Jewish ancestry, Jessica engages metaphysics, spirituality, and Afrofuturism in her work. Her art is both balm and blueprint: mapping out pathways for the Black liberatory imagination and reviving recipes for collective care. Jessica collaborates with organizers and cultural workers to facilitate community rituals of remembrance and conversations about reparations, abolition, earth stewardship, and more.

Jessica Valoris is currently a Culture and Narrative Fellow with The Opportunity Agenda and a recipient of the Washington Award from S&R Evermay. She has completed fellowships with VisArts Studio Fellowship, Public Interest Design Lab, Intercultural Leadership Institute, and Halcyon Arts Lab. Iterations of her recent body of work, Black Fugitive Folklore, have been shown at the Phillips Collection, The Kreeger Museum, Africana Film Festival, The REACH at the Kennedy Center, VisArts, and Brentwood Arts Exchange.

Gia Harewood is an educator, curator, and facilitator. Having graduate degrees in English from the University of Maryland College Park, she believes in the power of storytelling to connect, heal, and transform.

Through the lens of her graduate degree in Applied Theatre from The City University of New York (CUNY)’s School of Professional Studies, Gia uses the arts (broadly defined) to amplify and catalyze group dialogue and social justice work.

When she’s not listening to multiple audiobooks and podcasts at a time, you can find her soaking up memorable performances on stage and screen, riveted by insightful exhibitions and NPR segments, dancing, roller skating, and looking for yet another book.

The DC Arts Center (DCAC) is the only organization in the greater Washington, D.C. area solely dedicated to fostering under-represented artists in every discipline. By offering physical space, meaningful programming, and coveted resources, we eliminate predominant barriers to entry or reentry, resulting in a future where the arts are inclusive of diverse cultures, people, and narratives. Located in the heart of Washington, D.C’.s vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood, DCAC operates a small arts facility that includes two art galleries, a 41-seat black box theater, and office space. The organization completed a historic full-facility renovation in 2024, marking the first comprehensive overhaul in decades. Founded in 1989 as an accessible alternative arts center in response to eroding support for local artists, DCAC has since become a hub of creativity, receiving local, national, and international attention. Artists of all types have been drawn to DCAC from as close as around the corner to as far as from other continents.

The DC Arts Center’s Main Gallery hosts a variety of exhibitions annually, with artists selected through an application and review process led by The DC Arts Center’s Visual Arts Committee. Submission guidelines can be accessed on our website: www.dcartscenter.org/apply

DC Arts Center’s Nano Gallery was conceived to showcase small-format art, extending an invaluable opportunity to artists who might not otherwise secure an exhibition in a larger, conventional gallery setting. The Nano Gallery provides artists with a platform for presenting their work in an intimate and professional environment. The DC Arts Center’s Nano Gallery hosts a variety of exhibitions annually, with artists selected through an application and review process led by The DC Arts Center’s Visual Arts Committee. Submission guidelines can be accessed on our website: www.dcartscenter.org/apply

2438 18th St NW