Opening Receptions: Friday, June 16 from 7pm to 9pm
June 9 – July 9, 2017
Gibbs Street Gallery, VisArts (1st floor)
Workshop with the artist: June 10, 10 – 3 PM https://www.visartsatrockville.org/more/event/artist-led-workshop-miniature-floats/
As a research-driven artist, Maria Lux makes installation-based works that center on the way animals are used to generate human knowledge and understanding of the world. She works across disciplines and subjects, leading to a wide range of outcomes. Her work begins with existing research and stories from other fields—such as evolutionary biology, medicine, agriculture, history, literature, film, and anthropology—and utilizes a variety of techniques and materials to connect often-disparate ideas. Previous projects have involved sewing a couch-sized stuffed dog, painting a diorama of ancient predators killing early humans, building an imagined replica of a Medieval harpsichord, or carving an 8-foot long pig.
About the artist: Maria Lux earned her M.F.A. in 2012 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Painting and Sculpture and her B.F.A. from Iowa State University in Art & Design and Graphic Design in 2006. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States. She has been the artist in residence at the Center for New Art at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey (fall 2014) and has been a resident at the Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria Illinois and Figure One Gallery in Champaign. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. https://marialux.net
June 2 – July 2, 2017
Common Ground Gallery, VisArts (2nd floor)
The prints in Cynthia Brinich-Langlois’ solo exhibition at VisArts grew from a collaborative partnership with a plant geneticist at Marquette University, Dr. Michael Shläppi, who is developing a variety of early-flowering / cold-tolerant rice to be grown in Wisconsin. Oryza sativa, domesticated Asian rice, is a staple crop that alone supplies over 20% of the calories that humans consume worldwide. Rice, like other cereal grains, is a grass; its domestication produced plants that retain their seeds through the end of the season (instead of dispersing them upon maturity), making the harvest of the grain economical. Over the millennia, varieties have been cultivated for myriad purposes, including productivity, drought tolerance, starch content, etc. However, rice remains a labor-intensive crop, and much of the industrial production of the crop takes place in regions of the world where labor costs are negligible.
In Oryza, silhouettes of fieldworkers, drawn from historical photographs, prints, and paintings, populate the works. Their shadowy forms move through the rice fields—as they have for millennia—performing the tasks of cultivation, but the people remain indistinct. Illustrations of genetically modified rice capture the growth of the plant, from seedlings in petri dishes to fully mature grasses in test-paddies. Portraits of individual rice plants at various stages of growth are isolated for optimal examination, ringed with text, and edged in gold foil. The patterned backgrounds that extend like wallpaper behind the plants depict conditions necessary for farming (water/soil/air), as well as the crop itself, while referencing ongoing modifications and improvements to the organism. The historical intersections of art, science, and agriculture persist within the topic of rice, a crop whose cultivation and consumption defines the lives of billions of people throughout the world.
Humans exert enormous selective pressures on certain organisms, essentially transforming constituents of the natural world to suit the needs of society. The decorative arrangements and stylized environments that typify the prints in Oryza acknowledge this history of control and manipulation, employing the aesthetic language of botanical illustration and situating the project within a larger discourse about labor in the studio, the laboratory, or the field.
About the Artist: Cynthia Brinich-Langlois is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Art & Design at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After completing undergraduate studies in Studio Art and Environmental Biology at Kenyon College, she pursued an M.F.A. in Printmaking from the University of New Mexico. While attending UNM, she participated in Land Arts of the American West and Tamarind Institute’s Collaborative Lithography program. She has exhibited her prints, drawings, books, and animations nationally and internationally, including at the Lannan Foundation Gallery in Santa Fe, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Purdue University Galleries, Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, A1LabArts in Knoxville, Charles Allis Museum in Milwaukee, and Awagami Factory in Japan. Her work is included in the Iowa Print Archive at the University of Iowa, as well as in the Center for Art + Environment collection at the Nevada Museum of Art. Brinich-Langlois has been an artist-in-residence at Elsewhere Artists Collaborative, Ucross Foundation, and Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. https://www.cynthiabrinichlanglois.com
two hundred forty-one years
June 16 – July 16, 2017
Kaplan Gallery, VisArts (2nd floor)
Lewis Colburn investigates the construction of historical narrative in his solo exhibition two hundred forty-one years. He presents two bodies of work, Early America and A Permanent State of Discontent, that reflect his interest in the way the past is re-interpreted and re-told through the filter of current experience. His sculptural tableaux include meticulous replicas of historical objects crafted by hand and digital tools in natural and industrial materials. Pseudo antiques, grand ideals, and iconic symbolic objects meld into an iconography that dislocates any absolute narrative. History becomes a theater with holes. The psyche of an American identity rests in solid but partial performances, incomplete scripts, ambiguous sets, carefully crafted authentic-looking props, interpretation, and timing. “Devil’s Handyman” features a wooden anvil carved by a 3D router that rests squarely on a shaped pedestal stenciled with arrows and umbrellas indicating the necessity to handle with care. The arrows point in different directions sending conflicting messages about how to situate the object. It evokes a roster of associations with American craftsmanship, industry, and work ethic, but it is a useless tool despite its authentic look. The icon of industry and hard work is laminated wood and hints of disaster if struck with a hot hammer. A tree stump cast in cherry red resin embedded with a wooden ax seductively re-calls the contested authenticity of George Washington’s “cannot tell a lie” folk tale. Titled “Untitled (A Nation Built From Wood),” it sits on a plywood plinth on four diminutive industrial aluminum legs and resembles a big chunk of candy. Stenciled on the plinth are the words “This Side Up” humorously poking at the correct way to orient this fake stump to preserve its value. “At best, objects make unreliable tour guides,” states Colburn. “They cannot argue with the narratives we imagine for them.” His sculptures occupy a state where the authentic and artificial, fact and fable merge, separate, and erase each other. In this unsteady territory are larger questions about how we write and re-tell history and what we emphasize or neglect.
About the artist: Born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Lewis Colburn received degrees in studio art and Russian language from St. Olaf College, and an MFA in sculpture from Syracuse University. Colburn’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, at venues including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, the School 33 Art Center in Baltimore, and the historic Glen Foerd mansion in Philadelphia. Colburn is also a member of NAPOLEON, an artist-run project space in Philadelphia’s Rollins Building. https://www.lewiscolburn.net
- Wednesday & Thursday: 12 – 4pm
- Friday: 12 – 8pm
- Saturday & Sunday: 12 – 4pm
VisArts at Rockville is located three blocks from the Rockville Metro station at 155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD. For information, please visit www.visartscenter.org or call 301-315-8200.