Opening Receptions and Artist Talks: Friday, January 19 from 7pm to 9pm
January 12 – February 11, 2018
Common Ground Gallery
What is it that elevates dirt, wood, or gypsum from its raw state into an object worthy of a pedestal? Anika Cartterfield’s exhibition The Wild reflects on this question by deconstructing the traditional forms of the gallery — the white wall, the pedestal, and the frame — to interrogate how we assign and interpret the value of the ‘natural’. The works in this show fluctuate between the precise and the crude; they are rebellious of the gallery format for creating value but they are also stuck in its structure. Focusing on this disjunction, Cartterfield asks the viewer to consider how we constrain the natural into comfortable, familiar arrangements, and how this impulse reflects a missed opportunity—to know the wild as it is, and not as we want it to be.
About the artist: Anika Cartterfield is a New England based artist who creates large-scale sculptures that are made for and defined by specific architecture and environmental sites. These works not only fit the physicality of the place but also respond to its history. Cartterfield has created site-specific installations in the U.S. and abroad and exhibited in galleries in Vermont, Boston, and Maryland. She completed her B.F.A. at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design 15’. She was the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Godine Travel Award and has participated in residencies at Salem Art Works, Salem, NY and Arquetopia, Puebla, MX. Cartterfield worked for four years in environmental conservation and education for the Vermont Forest Service. She now lives and works at Salem Art Works, a sculpture park and residency program in upstate NY. www.anikatodd.com
A Lesser Light
January 12, 2018 – February 11, 2018
Gibbs Street Gallery
Alex Braden, the first VisArts Studio Fellow, presents a series of new sonic works in the Gibbs Street Gallery. Braden uses sound and sculpture to create interactive installations and immersive experiences. He believes that the medium through which listeners engage with sound should bear as much aesthetic weight as the content of the sound itself. He often employs antiquated technology for his sound-making, asking listeners to answer a rotary telephone, navigate rebuilt tape machines, or step into a phone booth to engage with his work. He also uses scale and distance to immerse listeners in audio—often splitting a single composition among multiple speakers in an installation to create theatrical, spacious, and lush soundscapes.
About the artist: Alex Braden is a sound artist, sculptor, and multi-instrumentalist residing in Washington, DC He began his study of Classical Piano at age 4, and migrated to Jazz Guitar at 11 years old. After teaching private music lessons to his own instructor’s beginner and intermediate students all throughout high school, Alex abandoned a music scholarship in pursuit of a B.F.A. in Sound Art & Independent Study. Braden has earned fellowships from the Ballston BID (Virginia), Arlington (Virginia) Commission for the Arts, DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, Rockland Residency Program (Seattle, Washington), and Vermont Studio Center. He’s toured nationally with three bands, installs prolifically in myriad galleries along the East coast, and his work is in the permanent collection of the U.S. Department of State. Braden is the first artist to be awarded a VisArts Studio Fellowship. www.alexanderbraden.com
About the VisArts Studio Fellowship: The VisArts Studio Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for a dynamic individual artist or collaborative artist team to create a new body of work, evolve an existing body of work, or develop a project in a stimulating, supportive environment over a six month period. Studio space is provided free of charge. Artists receive a $500.00 per month stipend. The Studio Fellowship offers the gift of time and space to two artists and/or collaborative artist teams each year to experiment and realize new work. The VisArts Studio Fellows present their work in solo exhibitions at the end of their respective fellowships.
The Fabric of Place
New work by Bresler Resident Artist Maria-Theresa Fernandes
January 12 – February 11, 2018
Concourse Gallery, VisArts, Second floor
VisArts’ Bresler Resident Artist Maria-Theresa Fernandes interweaves history and textiles in her solo exhibition, The Fabric of Place, on view in VisArts’ Concourse Gallery January 12-February 11, 2018. Delving into the history of Rockville during her Bresler Residency, Fernandes found inspiration in textiles and newspaper archives from the Beall-Dawson House collection, as well as a statue of a Confederate soldier that was boxed in plywood and recently removed from the grounds of the old Rockville courthouse. In her new body of textile and stitched works, “place” is a palpable mix of emotions, textures, time, and historical facts and narratives stories. Fernandes, currently residing in Baltimore, will be present at the exhibition opening and artist talk on January 12, 2018 beginning at 7 PM at VisArts (155 Gibbs Street, Second Floor, Rockville, MD, 20850). This event is free and open to the public.
Fernandes has long considered the important role that textiles play in our lives and the relationships that shape community.
“Cloth is used at the beginning of life and at our departure in death,” states the artist. Several pieces of clothing from the Beall-Dawson House were deeply affecting to Fernandes and are included in the exhibition on loan from the local Rockville museum. As she considered the confluence of the history of slavery at the Beall-Dawson House, the current debate around Confederate monuments, and the conditions in textile production, the works on exhibition began to take shape.
“In slavery, textiles were used as a disguise and protection,” says Fernandes. With that in mind, she created several pieces in tribute to the courage and life story of Anna Maria Weems, who made a daring escape from slavery in Montgomery County dressed as a man. Fernandes’ mixed-media piece titled “In Transit” includes references to a bodice from the Beall-Dawson house museum. The piece includes twigs and is meant to represent Weems’ back as she flees into the woods.
In response to the Confederate soldier monument on the Rockville courthouse grounds, Fernandes felt compelled to make several pieces. At the top of a field of red orange felted wool is a blank box-like shape referring to the plywood box that was built around the soldier, leaving only his head exposed. From the top of Fernandes’ box, however, rises a different figure surrounded by stitched questions- “What can we learn from this? Can we hide the past? What can we do?” At the bottom of the piece are stitched text patches with text copied from newspaper advertisements for slaves. It is a humble piece, not very large, but it urgently tries to connect the past with the future, to expose, inform, and understand.
About the Artist
Fernandes was born in Kenya and has lived in the U.K. and USA for a number of years. Place, travel and environment play an important part in Fernandes’ internationally acclaimed work. Throughout her career, travel has given her the opportunity to reflect and create works relating to the surroundings of the countries she experienced. History and poetry are brilliantly woven into the fabric of Fernandes’ works, which translate her physical and emotional attachment to the lands she visited.
She received her B.A. (Hons) degree in Textiles with a specialty in Embroidery. A graduate from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit with an M.F.A. in Fiber Art, Fernandes has participated in over 25 solo exhibitions and several international exhibitions. This global artist is the recipient of prestigious international grants and awards and such as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, the Ruth Cheven Foundation award, and the UNESCO –Arts International award. Maria-Theresa Fernandes was one of three Fleur and Charles Bresler Resident artists who received free studio space for four months at VisArts in 2017 to develop projects that focused on social practice, community art, and performance.
“At a time when discord, polarization, and hate seem to be setting the tone, Maria-Theresa’s creative work is an act of the utmost respect, generosity, and empathy,” says VisArts Gallery Director and Curator Susan Main. “She uncovers the essence of communities and individuals within the context of their histories, landscapes, and personal stories. She literally and figuratively stitches them together into a meaningful whole.”
About the 2017 Bresler Artists
The 2017 Bresler Resident artists, Maria-Theresa Fernandes, Katie Kehoe, and Krista Caballero, present new work created during their residencies at VisArts. All three artists were selected by a review panel and received a free studio space for four months at VisArts to develop project proposals that focused on social practice, community art, and/or performance. The nature of their projects required a dynamic mix of research, collaboration, physical construction, and public interaction. From textile and stitch works that poetically connect to the history of Rockville, to a collection of flotation devices used as catalysts for conversations, to a dynamic intermedia installation that includes a large-scale Kaiserpanorama to focus on endangered and extinct bird species, the work of this year’s Bresler Resident artists is not only brilliantly inventive, but socially and environmentally aware.
About the Fleur and Charles Bresler Residency
In honor of VisArts patrons Fleur and Charles Bresler, VisArts invites applications and proposals from local, national, and international artists for a four-month residency at VisArts. This residency provides a unique opportunity for a dynamic individual artist or collaborative artist team to create a new body of work, evolve an existing body of work, or develop a project in a stimulating, supportive environment. Studio space is provided free of charge. The residency encourages interaction, dialogue and exploration both within the VisArts artist community and the larger Rockville community as well. The residency offers the gift of time and space to three artists and/or collaborative artist teams each year to experiment and realize new work. The current Bresler Resident Artists present their work in a solo exhibition at VisArts. For more info: https://www.visartscenter.org/more/studio-artists/
About the Beall-Dawson Museum
The Beall-Dawson House was built circa 1815 for Upton Beall and his wife and daughters. Beall, from a prominent Georgetown family, was Clerk of the Court for the county, and he wanted a home that would reflect his wealth and status. In 1815 Rockville was a small rural community, despite being the county seat and an important cross-roads town. Beall’s large brick Federal-style home, built overlooking Commerce Lane (now West Montgomery Avenue), was designed to impress both inside and out.
Beall’s daughters lived in the house their entire lives and were later joined by a cousin, Amelia Somervell Dawson, and her family. The house remained in private hands until the 1960s, when it was purchased by the City of Rockville and became the Montgomery History’s headquarters.
Today, although all but one of the outbuildings are gone, the house itself still contains most of its original architectural features, including the indoor slave quarters located above the kitchen. The house collection includes several antiques dating from the early 19th century, and docents are knowledgable about the lives of both the upper-class white families and the enslaved African Americans who lived here, as well as typical life in 19th century Rockville.
The first two floors of the museum are dedicated to changing exhibits, showcasing Montgomery History’s collections. The old kitchen is used as a textile conservation lab for demonstrations on care and preservation of museum-quality clothing.
VisArts thanks Elizabeth Lay, Curator at the Beall-Dawson House, for her assistance in this exhibition and collaboration with Maria-Theresa Fernandes and VisArts.