Opening Reception: Friday, September 7 from 7pm to 9pm
Curators: Cynthia Connolly, Judy A. Greenberg, Fletcher Mackey, Jacqueline Maria Milad, Jack Rasmussen, Laura Roulet, José Ruiz, Nancy Sausser, Lynn Silverman, ⎮’sindikit⎮ (Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud)
Artists: Ashley Culver, Frank Hallam Day, Elsabé Dixon, Alex Ebstein, Shané K. Gooding, Stephen Hayes, Christopher K. Ho, James Huckenpahler, Jean Jinho Kim, Guy Miller, Evan Reed, Allan Rosenbaum, Rachel Rotenberg, Foon Sham, Joe Shannon, Chad Stayrook, Hillary Steel, Judit Varga, Elizabeth Zvonar, bees, The Punk Rock Flyer and Zines (from the archives of Cynthia Connolly, Dischord Records at the University of Maryland at College Park).
In celebration of its 30th Anniversary, VisArts presents an exhibition in four galleries that explores the power of visual art to transform. Eleven curators selected a single work of art, a small curated group of artworks by multiple artists, or an art experience that addresses art’s ability to shift social, cultural, or personal forms. This exhibition was created in the spirit of sharing experiences and opening conversations about the “work” of art as a spark or trigger for conversions spectacular and subtle in both makers and viewers.
Deep Flash speculates that art and transformation are partners: one influencing the other in no set order. Materials move through a variety of states in relationship with questions, ideas, histories, and individual and collective experiences. In a “deep flash” moment this arrangement may send perception and thinking into fresh new spaces.
“Deep Flash happened to me,” says organizer Susan Main. “I was blindsided by two art viewing experiences that marked me and influenced my practice as an artist, viewer, and curator. I was excited to see what experiences affected this group of thoughtful curators who live and work in the Washington/Baltimore metro areas.” The result is an exhibition that features a spectrum of artists from emerging to well-established working in a wide variety of media.
Independent curator Laura Roulet considered planetary transformation through climate change and the role of the eco-artist for Deep Flash. She invited Elsabé Dixon, whose project Mise en Place/ Everything in its Place, incorporates wheat, raising live bees, harvesting honey, kneading and baking bread – all transformative processes that demonstrate the life cycle of plants, insects, and the humans that depend on them. Using sculpture, performance, workshops, a panel talk with local beekeepers, the Beall-Dawson House Museum collection, and Great Harvest Bread she makes the interconnections in an ecological system transparent and encourages active participation.
José Ruiz explores collaboration as a transformative process with the potential to foster stimulating relationships, fresh insights into individual and collective work, and expanded discourse. Ruiz selected artists James Huckenpahler, Christopher K. Ho, and Chad Staybrook. Each contributes a single video addressing the theme of art and transformation that together become a single work with three-channels.
Nancy Sausser addresses her interest in the “imbued object” bringing together six artists who work with wood, clay and fiber: Evan Reed, Hillary Steel, Allan Rosenbaum, Rachel Rotenberg, Foon Sham, and Judit Varga. “They all link to transformation through the process of imbuing, which subtly turns one thing into another, into more than it was originally or more than it seems on the surface,” she writes in her curatorial essay for the Deep Flash catalog. “Each of these artists has made artworks that present as objects that are deeply imbued with meaning and feeling. They emanate something poetic, mystical and human, something elemental that stems from references to collective or individual history or past use.”
Fascinated by the relationship between transformation and time, Fletcher Mackey selected works by emerging artists Stephen Hayes and Shané K. Gooding. Hayes’ sculptures, partially evolved female figures rising from bases of scavenged wood, present a collective of power, individuality, dignity, and ethereality. Gooding presents veiled photographic portraits, journal entries, and a diptych video Raise a Woman Up. Both artists evoke connections to ancient, classical, and totemic powers as passageways for the transmission of ancestral history.
Curator/photographer Lynn Silverman presents the book, Evidence, regarded as a seminal collection of photographs edited by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, and a video of its pages. Silverman discovered the book in a bookstore in the 1970’s. It ignited a new understanding of the photographic image as document and its relationship to narrative leading her to a practice committed to conceptual photography.
Artist and curator Cynthia Connolly presents original Punk Rock zines and flyers from the Dischord Archive now housed at the University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP). “Photocopies, flyers and zines were the cheap, fun way to experiment, and communicate progressive political thought,” says Connolly. They became her gateway to art and music communities. Her installation includes a zine-making station with instructions from John Davis, the archivist of the Dischord Archive at the Special Collections in Performing Arts located in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library at UMCP.
Joe Shannon was one of two painters that curator Jack Rasmussen was intent on getting to know when he came to Washington, D. C. in 1973. Three politically current paintings by Shannon on view in the exhibition make a strong, vivid case for Rasmussen’s declaration that we need artists like Shannon who are not swayed by trends, stay on their own nerve, make political art because it is necessary, and remain powerfully idiosyncratic. As he states in his curatorial essay, “We must continuously act to transform the world into what it can be—better, not worse, for those living in it.”
For curator Judy K. Greenberg, Frank Hallam Day’s photographs of the hulls of wrecked ships provoked a spiritual and contemplative reaction. Repetition and framing create perceptual shifts for the viewer between reality and abstraction, color field painting and documentary photography, life and death. “Day transforms the wreck headed for extinction into another space unto itself,” states Greenberg.
Jacqueline Maria Milad considers the transformative affect that an artist can have on community. With her selection of Alex Ebstein, Milad presents an artist who is transforming Baltimore through her work as an artist, writer, curator, and gallery owner. Alex Ebstein’s installation includes subversive and seductive references to the transformative potential of art, the gym, the wellness spa, and the porous boundaries between pleasure, beauty, desire, leisure, and consumption.
‘sindikit (Tim Doud and Zoë Charlton) sends up transformational flares of all sorts presenting the work of artists Jean Jinho Kim, Elizabeth Zvonar, Guy Miller, and Ashley Culver. “Each artist has a relationship to using materials in unorthodox ways, “write the collaborative curatorial duo. “These materials are sourced from their everyday life – whether it be from work, home, or leisure – to invite curiosity and play, provoke critique of historical or social customs, or address hybridity and materiality.” Transformation through art-making and community-based conversations about the issues most important to artists are at the heart of ‘sindikit’s mission. “It’s the audacity, and the hope, that we place in Art —that culture, creativity, and art can inspire, shift, radicalize, undermine, and expand our experience —can transform us from who and where we are to who and where we want to be.”
- 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.