Archive | June, 2013

We Love Arts: Rosemary Feit Covey’s Red Handed

27 Jun

By , 26 Jun 2013

Sometimes we experience works of art that embody both beauty and horror. The old word for this, now sadly devalued, was “awesome.” I hope artist Rosemary Feit Covey will forgive me for using that word to describe her current complete gallery installation, Red Handed. It is simply awesome.

Recently I visited Morton Fine Art to watch as Covey installed the work under the gentle eye of curator Amy Morton, spreading vinyl pieces across the floor. Even in that unfinished state before opening, it had undeniable power. Swirling vortexes of bald, nude figures, mouths open and arms red to the fingertips, soon covered the floor. I stepped gingerly over their faces, having no other option but to participate in their torture. It’s impossible to look away from the unsettling mass of bodies under your feet. It feels disrespectful. Jarring.


There’s no rest for your eyes on the walls either, which are also covered in variants of the twisting, stumbling figures. It’s difficult not to continually look down and dive into the pit. The vinyl floor pieces began as drawings, then printed both commercially and by hand, and finally overlaid in places with paint. Some prints were also made into wall paintings or just printed on basic paper. Covey got “housemaid’s knees” working on them (an old Victorian term that struck me as a cheeky metaphor for this quietly contained artist serving to bring these figures to life).

“Red Handed.” Art installation by Rosemary Feit Covey at Morton Fine Art. Image: MFA.

“Red Handed.” Art installation by Rosemary Feit Covey at Morton Fine Art. Image: MFA.

It’s an intensely visceral piece. Covey hopes it compels strangers visiting the gallery to engage with each other, to open up about their own distinct reactions. Though the work has its genesis in ideas of guilt, both individual and collective, viewers (or rather, participants) are encouraged to let their own interpretations germinate. Suicide, depression, isolation amongst the many, illness, the Holocaust, even zombies…whatever the dialogue that ensues, it has value to the artist.

“Red Handed.” Art installation by Rosemary Feit Covey at Morton Fine Art. Photo credit: Sophia Guerci.

“Red Handed.” Art installation by Rosemary Feit Covey at Morton Fine Art. Photo credit: Sophia Guerci.

Emotional reactions ran the gamut at last Friday’s opening (the crowd also went through “40+ bottles of wine,” Morton noted, and you may feel the need for a cocktail after visiting!) and will no doubt continue. The installation is on view now through July 5, and I encourage you to immerse yourself in the beautiful horror, facing the abyss both internal and external. Covey’s work is well worth the discomfort.

Rosemary Feit Covey’s Red Handed, now through July 5 at Morton Fine Art, located at 1781 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009. Gallery hours: 11am-6pm Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5pm Sunday. For more information call 202-628-2787.

To view the full online version please visit:


As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn Larsen’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

MAYA FREELON ASANTE in the International Review of African American Art

11 Jun

Scattered to the Wind

Maya Freelon-Asante Ventures into Performance Art

by Schwanda Rountree

Maya Freelon Asante collaborated with the bay breeze sweeping through the busy, commercial district of Baltimore as she presented a debut piece called Scattered to the Wind.   The kinetic art performance at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower rained, colorful free-falling art down on all below.

View of Maya Freelon Asante's Scattered to the Wind performance. Photo credit: Chris Metzger.

View of Maya Freelon Asante’s Scattered to the Wind performance. Photo credit: Chris Metzger.

Those who had come to participate in the performance were led by the artist through an interactive experience highlighting both the fragility and strength of art.  She urged them to surrender to the act of letting go and to the beauty of now — the now of that sunny, April 27, 2014 afternoon.

Poet Maya Angelou’s description of her namesake Maya Freelon Asante as “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being” was on vivid display that day.

View of Maya Freelon Asante's Scattered to the wind performance. Photo credit: Chris Metzger.

View of Maya Freelon Asante’s Scattered to the wind performance. Photo credit: Chris Metzger.

What made the Scattered to the Wind additionally captivating to the participants who have followed her career was that it was her first performance. “I had to call my extraordinarily talented art buddy Holly Bass, just to make sure what I envisioned was technically an ‘art performance,’” Freelon Asante says.   Artist Holly Bass’ endurance, seven-hour performance last year at the Corcoran merged legacies of the Hottentot Venus, the godfather of soul and much more.

Freelon Asante has previously  collaborated with choreographers “but this was very different,” she says.  “I know tissue paper lends itself to movement and I’ve played with that in the gallery and theater setting, but being outside and orchestrating the whole process was different.  I’d say it was a collaboration between myself and the Baltimore city that day, which was amazing!

“I wanted to push the boundaries of how and where we view art. Challenging what fuels our desire to preserve or protect something. My vision was beautiful art raining down on Baltimore city’s knowing spectators, Lexington Market cruisers, liquor store locals, lost tourists and orioles fans. The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower − I’ve had a studio there for the last 3 years − is at the intersection of so many different types of folk. I wanted them all to witness and experience this letting go as a gift.  Free falling art for all.

“And each tissue piece I dropped was special a momento of my history and process, it could have been from my grandmother’s basement, during a residency at Skowhegan, from my installation in Madagascar… I was in a sense giving away a piece of myself. I even handed out special tissue bits to people who didn’t catch one. That part reminded me of communion, which I guess it was!”

Freelon Asante’s current major project, the Clothesline Muse, incorporates  dance, live music, spoken word, interview text, video and interactive art.  The cast will include six dancers, a percussionist, and Freelon Asante’s mother, Nnenna Freelon, the well-known jazz singer as “The Muse.”   Her daughter’s colorful tissue paper art will hang on the clothesline like laundry drying in the sun.  These sun-and-wind dried, tissue-paper “clothes” will be a vibrant resonance of the Scattered to the Wind performance in Baltimore.

Let go with me
Make room for joy!
The weightlessness
of forgiveness
Seeks peace
With love

—poem by Maya Freelon Asante

See the Scattered to the Wind performance here:

Schwanda Rountree is an attorney, art collector and principal of Rountree Art Consulting.



“Red Handed” Gallery Installation by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY

5 Jun

Rosemary working 2



A gallery installation experience by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY


June 21st, 2013 – July 5th, 2013



Morton Fine Art (MFA)
1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts)
Washington, DC 20009



Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm

Sunday 12pm-5pm



Friday, June 21st from 6pm-8pm

The artist will be in attendance.


Covey_-1009 web

About Red Handed:  

Rosemary Feit Covey’s Red Handed is a complete gallery installation project which combines drawings printed on both hand and commercial printers.  The prints are then made into paintings, or left rough on cheap paper.  Covey’s exploration in media and method has evolved and is comprised of wall-wrapped images and an all-encompassing floor piece – the major part of the installation – which forces the viewer to walk on the art.  The image is meant to have no beginning and no end.

Red Handed began as a set of drawings and printed columns during Covey’s 2012 residency at Spiro Arts in Utah. The initial drawing appeared as a stream of conscience image. It was at first unclear why red hands kept appearing on her running figures, Covey feels it is connected to guilt.

Inspiration for Red Handed:
Referencing Dore, Modigliani and Picasso’s GuernicaRed Handed raises issue of collective versus personal guilt.

“Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of the culprit, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.”

 -Hannah Arendt

“For all survivors of suicide the question of guilt opens a maw that fills and envelopes adding to the pain, shock and sorrow. A murder has been committed where the murderer can not be blamed. The past becomes the framework for constant reexamination.  I had to ask myself – why did this image spring whole from my imagination?  I had to wait and allow my thoughts to unearth the past.  Guilt is the most personal of emotions and universal only when we take it on ourselves before we look at the rest.” -Rosemary Feit Covey



Rosemary Feit Covey was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a career spanning three decades she has exhibited internationally and received countless awards. Covey’s work is in numerous national and international museum and library collections.

Select collections include the Corcoran Gallery of Art; the New York Public Library Collection of Prints and Drawings; the Papyrus Institute, Cairo, Egypt; the National Library of Australia, Canberra; The National Museum of American History; Georgetown University Library Print Collection; Harvard University Library; and Princeton University Library.

Georgetown University Library currently houses 512 of her wood engravings in their permanent collection. She has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Evergreen Museum at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 2014.

Red Handed marks Covey’s third annual exhibition at Morton Fine Art.