Three-dimensional art can offer multiple ways of exploring the same subject matter. The viewer’s experience can change based on his or her perspective and the particular environment in which it is seen. At Honfleur Gallery through July 28, a group of artists who either work or live in Wards 7 and 8 East of the River, have created a series of sculptures, a first for the annual exhibition. The works incorporate a wide variety of materials and explore themes of oppression, archeology, nature, anatomy and history. This select group of artists pushed themselves beyond their normal mediums expressing their creativity in three dimensions. Curator and Honfleur Gallery Director Terence Nicholson felt it was time to put a focus on three-dimensional art in the 12th edition of the East of the River Annual Exhibition.
Starting in 2016, Nicholson altered the format of the show to feature different art forms and various types of media. The change began to attract new talent that had not previously exhibited at the gallery. This year’s show includes ten artists as follows: Craig Kraft, Diane English, Jay Coleman, Lisa Swanson, Luis Peralta De Valle, Lyric Prince, Malik Lloyd, Amber Mimz, Jeri Hubbard and Ibé Crawley.
As you walk into the gallery, three golden figures greet you at the door. Artist Jeri Hubbard has created a physical triptych with three lumpy sculptures positioned on a patch of AstroTurf. Based on their posture and arrangement, the simplified forms simulate an interaction with each other. Hubbard uses found objects and mixed media in her process. This is evident with Out Houses Inside in which she depicts three small outhouses using scraps of wood and pieces of corrugated metal.
Artist Ibé Crawley has contributed five powerful works to the exhibition. She reinterprets materials such as metal chains, gun parts, antique shackles, vintage photographs and marble to emphasize struggle and persecution. In Live Stock, a pair of rusty chains adorned with a pistol, handcuffs, a branding iron and rifle butts hang ominously from the ceiling. The form conveys the horrors of slavery and a system of tyranny. In comparison, My Cotton Book is a delicate scrapbook about black repression in America. The book is a historical album with photos and newspaper clippings covering topics such as cotton picking and the Ku Klux Klan. She emphasizes the role that slavery and institutional racism played in shaping the modern African-American identity. Throughout the book, swatches of cotton and cloth fabric to replicate an antique heirloom. The artist even provides gloves to allow the public to handle the book. Crawley’s creative fearlessness is reflected in the multi-faceted approach to her work.
Nationally recognized light sculptor Craig A. Kraft has designed two light boxes for the show. After traveling to twelve ancient caves in Spain and France, he experienced firsthand the very first marks, paintings, drawings and etchings made by Homo sapiens and translated the markings into contemporary, ghostly, moving silhouettes. In his works Castillo Dots and Hands, he illuminates the images of hands and tadpoles with a flickering light, simulating the fire light early cave dwellers utilized when drawing parietal art. According to Kraft, the effect is produced by placing neon behind cast paper, on which he drew with pencil and covered with acrylic and water. This layering of different media allowed Kraft to reproduce the rugged effect of the time-weathered cave walls. Even though these works are not sculptural, they convey a perception of depth and form coming to life with each pulse of light.
Other works in the exhibition by Jay Coleman (see the thumbnail or banner image) , Lyric Prince and Lisa Swanson, present a range of media and themes including a memorial, origami and anatomy. Coleman displays a politically themed statue of a man sitting on globe with a US flag over his shoulder, handcuffed, and holding a cell phone with a bullet hole in his chest titled Slumber Woke. The globe emphasizes the continent of Africa and appears to be a memorial to either gun violence or police brutality in African-American communities. Prince’s intricate paper wall sculpture shows the artist’s ability to create a voluminous form that is, nevertheless, weightless. Swanson’s ceramic feet and hands invite the viewer to examine the details of these parts of the human body represented in each of the five works.
What is perhaps most inspiring about the exhibit overall is the sense that the artists have each sought to use innovative techniques and taken an experimental approach to create three dimensional objects that express their concern with issues of personal importance. The range of content is, however rooted, for the most part, in the experience of the community of artists who have lived and worked East of the River. The 12th Annual East of the River Exhibition provides a forum to showcase local artists which is at the core Honfleur Gallery’s mission. Viewers from both inside and outside the community will have different reactions to these works, but the quality of the exhibit overall is of universal interest.
12th Annual East of the River Exhibition is on view through July 28, 2018 at the Honfleur Gallery at 1241 Good Hope Road, SE. For more information, visit www.archdc.com
Banner image: Jay Coleman Slumber Woke. Image by Jan Aucker for East City Art.