VisArts is pleased to present new exhibitions opening in September. VisArts Studio Fellow Khánh H. Lê’s From Lake Needwood, with Love is in the Gibbs Street Gallery from September 2-October 9; Caroline Hatfields‘ Foresights & Futures is in the Common Ground Gallery from September 2-October 16; and Maryam Khaleghiyazdi’s Living in Between is in the Concourse Gallery from September 7-October 21. An opening reception featuring a performance by DJ Joe Falero will be held Friday, September 9 from 7-9 pm.
Opening Reception: Friday, September 9 from 7- 9pm
Gibbs Street Gallery
September 2-October 9
For the last twelve years, Khánh H. Lê has been making mixed media art on paper, canvas, and wood panels. His pieces have been hand-drawn using stencils and then painted. During Le’s VisArts Studio Fellowship, he has incorporated craft technology, including a vinyl cutter, to create patterns in his works. This body of work is the first time he is attempting to do a large-scale mural with mixed media.
In 2008, Lê started making mixed media paintings using a single hexagon, which he continuously rotated until new patterns emerged. These patterns organically grew out of the paintings’ backgrounds and interacted with the figures in the paintings’ foregrounds. In 2016, Lê began to use silk screening to generate background patterns. The emerging patterns reminded him of the barbwire used in the refugee camp where he and his family stayed. Like the barbwire that kept them inside and contained, the patterns held them in and separated them from modern American culture.
Lê has always been interested in using digital technology to create handmade art. He is also intrigued by craft culture and the way crafters construct identity, because he sees parallels to his constructions. Currently, Lê is experimenting with vinyl cutters to design and collage patterns. As he learns more about the Pattern and Decoration movement (1975-1985), he is evolving his mixed media art to mural format. Instead of hand-drawing each pattern as he has done in the past, he is using a cutter or pattern printer to construct them.
The subject of Lê’s mural is Lake Needwood in Rockville, Md. He took a commercial image of Lake Needwood and incorporated inorganic hexagonal and octagonal shapes. Rockville has been described as “a city of diverse neighborhoods with safe streets, well-kept homes, vibrant parks, and vital community centers.” Lê says, “To me, Rockville sounds like my childhood dream of Avalon. Avalon was this Arthurian isle of utopia that King Arthur later had to escape to when he was injured at the end of his life. For Arthur, he has a safe space to retreat to when he is in danger. For we who are refugees, Avalon is the hope and dream for ourselves and our children. Often this dream is fenced off or contained from us.”
About the Artist
Khánh H. Lê was born in Vietnam and lives and works in Washington, D.C. He creates mixed-media collages based on deteriorating photographs and collective memories of his personal and familial history as refugees living in Vietnamese internment camps. Lê merges narratives – horrific realities and idyllic fantasies – filled with tension as he explores notions of home, country, and safety.
Lê graduated with an M.F.A. from Syracuse University in 2008. After graduate school, he moved to Washington, D.C. and made the District his new studio base. His work has been exhibited at the Hunterdon Art Museum (Clinton, N.J.) and locally at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Vox Populi, Honfleur Gallery, the DC Arts Center, Hillyer Art Space, Transformer, CulturalDC, Pyramid Atlantic, VisArts, Glen Echo Park, and Arlington Arts Center.
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded Lê the Artist Fellowship for the Visual Arts in 2011 and from 2015-2022. In 2018, he was awarded second place for the Bethesda Painting Prize. In 2019, Lé was a semifinalist for the Sondheim Artscape Prize, and in 2020 he was a semifinalist for the Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards’ Trawick Prize. In 2022, Lê was a finalist for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
Common Ground Gallery
September 2-October 16
Caroline Hatfield explores landscape as medium rather than subject through sculpture, installation, and extended media. Her work has been influenced to be very materially driven by observing land use and extractive practices in southern Appalachia. Sourcing and selecting material is a conceptual aspect of Hatfield’s sculptural practice — a process of examining the historical and cultural context of a given substance. The resulting installations and dimensional works consist of both natural and industrial components, yet their embodiment is intentionally estranged and fictitious.
Hatfield says, “I am interested in using the tools, tropes, and cognitive framework of science fiction to create spaces that challenge and explore our relationship to our environment. By creating an alternative or fictional ground to consider, human hierarchies of presence and absence, potential and waste, and mediations and boundaries can soften and reconfigure. That fluidity trails through the formal qualities of my work, where mutable materials and fragmented forms accumulate and flow into ephemeral sites and speculative geographies.”
Foresights & Futures is a body of work meditating on questions of our environment, perceptions, and future. The installation, Beacon, forms another- worldly landscape with an industrial beacon light originating from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Bull Run Fossil Plant (a single-generator coal-fired power plant to be closed by the end of 2023.)
In the mixed media pieces, Hatfield uses materials associated with speculative climate-engineering and celestial resource extraction. The image-based works all derive from photographs taken in areas of nature tourism and/or artificial waterways. Each work combines skies, water, light, and geological forms into estranged landscapes. She says, “My interests embodied in this work speak to our collective understanding of nature as commodity, a broadening scope of extraction and intervention, and imminent changes in the world around us.”
About the Artist
Caroline Hatfield’s creative practice uses sculpture, installation, and extended media to explore themes of landscape and science fiction. After completing a Sculpture B.F.A. at The University of Tennessee, she earned an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Studio Art from Towson University.
Hatfield has been included in numerous publications and has exhibited artwork nationally and internationally at venues such as The Mint Museum (Charlotte, N.C.), The Delaware Contemporary (Wilmington, Del.), and the CICA Museum (Gimpo, South Korea). Recent solo exhibitions include Land and Water at 500 X Gallery (Dallas, Texas) and Impart at Lincoln Memorial University (Cumberland Gap, Tenn.)
Among her awards and honors, Hatfield is a recipient of the Trawick Contemporary Art Prize and a South Arts Cross-Sector Impact Grant. She was recently appointed Assistant Professor and Area Coordinator of Sculpture at Mississippi State University, and lives and works in Starkville, Miss.
September 7- October 21
Maryam Khaleghiyazdi’s Living in Between is an interactive multimedia installation that contains four individual pieces that reflect Khaleghiyazdi’s life as an artist living between Iran and the U.S.
The first three pieces are about changing the appearance of American objects: pickle jars, pizza boxes, and lottery tickets. Khaleghiyazdi says, “In these pieces, I’m narrating my life as an immigrant to convey the concepts of development, loneliness, and vulnerability.” The fourth piece is an animation of Khaleghiyazdi’s interaction with her shadow, which symbolizes her old and new thoughts as an artist living between two cultures.
Khaleghiyazdi says, “I’m working on the concept of living in between because although the U.S. is a diverse community that’s willing to accept people from different cultures, in the aftermath of the 2017 executive order on immigration, immigrants lives have changed a lot. This phenomenon made me reconsider the concept of home and identity. Since people in the U.S. need to live in harmony with immigrants, I believe they should know about their lives and the challenges they face.”
About the Artist
Maryam Khaleghiyazdi is an Iranian multimedia artist and design professor based in Minn. In her practice, she is exploring her identity as migrant from Iran to the U.S. and using illustration to expose her status as a person living between two countries.
Khaleghiyazdi works and teaches in a variety of realms, including digital art, illustration, augmented reality, animation, and graphic design. She is the Assistant Professor of Graphic Design in the Art and Design Department at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She received her B.A. and M.F.A. in Visual Communication from the University of Tehran (Iran) and her second M.F.A. in Graphic Design from Ohio University.
Khaleghiyazdi has exhibited her art and design work in national and international exhibitions in Iran, the U.S., Germany, South Korea, Japan, Italy, the U.K., Switzerland, Mexico, and more. She has won several prizes for her work, including the silver prize at A’ Design Award (Italy), the merit award at the HOW International Design Awards (U.S.), first prize at the International Triennial of Eco-Posters (Ukraine), and second place in the International Poster Design Competition Post-it Awards (Russia).
VisArts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a hub for the visual arts that engages nearly 30,000 visitors annually through contemporary art exhibitions, a studio artist program, art classes and camps, VisAbility Art Lab (a supported studio for artists with disabilities), community art programs, the annual Rockville Arts Festival, and event space. Founded in 1987, VisArts is committed to our mission of transforming individuals and communities through the visual arts.
VisArts is in Rockville Town Square, three blocks from the Rockville Metro station, at 155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, Md. Galleries are open Wednesday-Thursday/Saturday-Sunday, 12-4 p.m. and Friday, 12-8 p.m. Exhibitions are free and open to the public. Visit www.visartscenter.org or call 301.315.8200 for more information.