Bold, colorful and alive – the works of art displayed at the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) are infused with meaning and message.
The new show at GRACE, Bite Identity and humor, is a juried exhibition featuring multi-media works of artists who reside in the mid-Atlantic region. According to Jefferson Pinder, the sole juror of the exhibition, the only caveat was that each artist should “use irony, sarcasm and wit to shed light on issues of personal struggle in mainstream society.”
Of the original seventy-five applicants, Pinder chose eighteen artists whose work ranges from painting, sculpture, photography, installation pieces and seven videos. Although the art is eclectic, they do share a common theme: personal struggle in society. According the Pinder, the artists “push the boundaries of any art standard definition of identity…a fierce voice of expression.”
“It was an easy choice,” said Pinder, “the way the work communicated, identity-based work…a way for an artist to change people’s views of society…Humor is a precious way to get at an individual’s soul…Humor and identity go hand in hand…All of the work in this show is truthful.”
Jefferson Pinder is a video and performance artist whose work often exemplifies the search for black identity in society. The artist is also an assistant professor at the University of Maryland.
The participants in the exhibition include Kristina Bilonick, Ed Bisese, Wendy Cook, Justyne Fischer, Lee Gainer, GrinGoh, Charlie Hahn, Linda Hesh, Jacqueline Levine, Scott T. Mallory, Carolina Mayorga, Ashley Simensky, Rob Parrish, Kari K. Scott, Charles Sessoms, Alan J. Simensky, Gwynneth VanLeven and Wilmer Wilson IV.
A few of the artists shared their process and message behind their work:
Kari K. Scott, a fiber artist, knits sweaters that are emblematic of an outer skin. Her piece “You Too Can Be Fat Like Me,” resembles the form of a nude, heavy-set women, including surgical scars and sun-damaged skin. She said, “They’re supposed to make you empathetic of another person.”
Wendy Cook was a painter until the tragedy of 9/11. She then turned to political assemblage. She said, “I use toys and objects from childhood…a foundation of safety.” Her “Unwelcome Mat” at first appears to be a happy green rug with a daisy, but on closer inspection is comprised of tiny green soldiers with guns, poised at the front door.
Photographer, Linda Hesh, shows works from two of her series. Her photograph, “Princesses,” depicts menacing Disney princesses posed around an apple, laser-etched with the word “EVIL.” In her series “In the Garden,” she focuses on gender disparity which is rooted in the Garden of Eden. Hesh said, “I remember watching movies and people saying you should want the prince…I did not… I hated dolls.”
Hesh’s second series of photographs depicts buildings in a D.C. neighborhood that is going through gentrification. She altered some of the signs on buildings to emulate stereotypes or labels. One eatery’s sign was changed from “All are Welcome” to “Blacks are Welcome.” Hesh said “When you look at a place you decide if that place is for you. We put labels on things whether we want to or not.”
Rob Parrish’s video, “Recursion,” is a vintage found footage video loop of a woman trapped in her uncomfortable clothes, drawn to a large television. The artist said, “People are addicted to screens…My work has 2 meanings…Theoretical physics…with an infinite number of universes…Here this woman is a study of the possibility…Also, people are addicted to screens…Can we say no to technology? I don’t think so.”
Alan J. Simensky’s large acrylic paintings are taken from his series “Disgruntled.” At first glance his vibrant paintings have a definite Lichtenstein-influence, as if they flew out of the comic section of the paper. However, the pieces all convey a similar message – “I hate my job.”
Simensky said, “These are people at work and what they think about to get them through the day.” Whether it’s sailing, being a superhero or punching your boss in the face.
What: Bite Identity and Humor
When: June 5 – July 29, 2011
Where: Greater Reston Arts Center
12001 Market Street
More information: http://www.restonarts.org/