Archive | June, 2021

LISA MYERS BULMASH, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Ona “Oney” Judge and Mount Vernon

29 Jun

Inspired by historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s book “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge”, Seattle-based artist LISA MYERS BULMASH created her collage series “Manticore and the Mermaid” centering on the self-liberation of Ona Judge in 1796, an enslaved woman who escaped from George and Martha Washington and was never caught.

Scanned by Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction, LLC.

LISA MYERS BULMASH, The Ingratitude of the Girl, 2021, 36″x48″, mixed media collage on panel

Scanned by Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction, LLC.

LISA MYERS BULMASH, Tell Her Things Will Be Different, 2021, 36″x48″, mixed media collage on paper

Congratulations to Dr. Dunbar and the fifth graders at Laurel Ridge Elementary School in Fairfax, VA who nominated Ona Judge to be honored with a historical marker near Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia. The marker was recently unveiled on Juneteenth, Saturday, June 19, 2021. Ona Judge’s historical marker is the first historical marker in Fairfax County about a Black man or Black woman, and the third about women at all.

Ona “Oney” Judge’s Historical Marker outside of Mount Vernon in Alexandria, VA. Unveiled Juneteenth, June 19, 2021

Available Artwork by LISA MYERS BULMASH

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

info@mortonfineart.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in Nation and allAfrica

28 Jun

Kenya: Artist Takes Pride in Her Ancestry

By Margaretta Wa Gacheru

Having transformed a hay-filled barn into a giant home studio, Malisa Kiasuwa has been working throughout the Covid-19 lockdown preparing for two exhibitions currently underway overseas. One is in Washington, DC, while the other is in London.

Both sharing the theme, The Pride of Origins, the Naivasha-based Malisa has previously exhibited in Nairobi at Circle Art Gallery and at Alliance Francaise. But Amy Morton of the Morton Fine Art Gallery in Washington found Malisa on Instagram, the social medium currently accommodating many local fine artists.

Nonetheless, while visiting Kenya in 2019, Morton found her way to Circle Art where she got an even better impression of Malisa’s organically-based artistry.

“Amy was and still is interested in featuring contemporary African art at her gallery, which is how she got to know me,” says the Belgian-Congolese artist whose 21 collages and wall hangings featured in her first solo show in DC from June 2to 22.

Soulful spotlight

Meanwhile, another 16 of Malisa’s collages are featuring now at the Sulger-Buel Gallery in London, where the artist has set her soulful spotlight on not just the Pride of Origins but specifically on the notion of ancestry.

Malisa works with an array of mixed media, including organic materials like raffia grass, sisal rope, handmade papers, scraps of fabric, and threads made out of cotton and silk, silver and gold. She blends them with found objects that she collects during her frequent walks around the lake and Naivasha town.

The upcycling of found objects appeal to the artist’s concern for conservation. Her use of organic materials reflects her desire to stay close to the purity of nature. But during the lockdown, Malisa reflected upon all the many clashing contradictions festering in the world, including the ‘virus of racism’ and the coronavirus, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of white supremacy.

An example of reconciliation

She desires to see the reconciliation of these extremes, a coming together of disparate elements in the name of peace.

“I see myself as an example of reconciliation since my background is both European and African,” says Malisa.

In a sense, both exhibitions are about Identity, reconciliation, and ‘the pride of origins’. These themes are symbolised most visibly in her London show where she includes collages that combine engraved portraits of 18th-century European aristocrats upon whose faces Malisa has affixed wooden West African masks (the kind that enthralled Western artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse).

“I found the engravings of my [Swiss] husband’s ancestors in an attic of his family’s home,” says Malisa who saw the etchings had been forgotten, so she brought them back to Kenya where she and her family have been living since 2013.

Treating them like the other ‘found objects’ that she uses to upcycle into her art, the masks superimposed on the faces of these bourgeois white men are meant to symbolize what reconciliation might look like. Yet the juxtaposition of the two-dimensional etchings and the three-dimensional masks could also be interpreted in other ways, either to amuse or to annoy.

There’s an irony of her embellishing the men’s portraits with African masks which had once been used in sacred rituals and infused with mystical powers. At the same time, Western aristocrats are not the only ‘nobility’ in the London show.

Malisa herself comes from West African nobility. “My father’s ‘tribe’ is Ndongo, the same one as Queen Zinga [or Nzinga] of Congo,” she recalls. Noting that Zinga was renowned for her military and diplomatic leadership which is credited for fending off Portuguese colonialism and slave trade for over 30 years.

Zinga is often identified as coming from Angola, but Malisa explains the Ndongo kingdom, before the colonial carving up of Africa in the 19th century, traversed northern Angola as well as southern Congo.

“Our people had lived on the border of what is now Congo,” says Malisa, adding that she wants her children to take pride in their shared ancestry.

In both exhibitions, there is at least one explicitly autobiographic collage featuring a mug shot of the artist wearing a crown, either made of hand-made paper or animal skin. As if enthroned in her exhibition just as Queen Zinga headed her vast kingdom, the letter ‘Z’ is emblazoned on each crown, standing at once for Zinga and for Zaire, which was the name of her country at the time that she was born.

Read the original article on Nation.

Available artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001 USA

http://www.mortonfineart.com

info@mortonfineart.com

+001 (202) 628-2787 (call or text)

MARIO ANDRES ROBINSON’s “A Brush with Time” at The Paul R. Jones Museum

24 Jun

Preview | Mario Andres Robinson’s examination of the human condition

Preview+%7C+Mario+Andres+Robinson%E2%80%99s+examination+of+the+human+condition

Courtesy of Daniel White

Joseph Arnold, Contributing Writer
June 23, 2021

What: “Mario Andres Robinson: A Brush with Time” 

Who: The exhibition is free and open to the public 

When: May 7 to July 30 during museum hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: The Paul R. Jones Museum

The exhibition marks the first time Mario Andres Robinson — an American painter, pastelist and draftsman — has displayed his work for the Alabama public. 

Daniel White, the museum’s director, said that Robinson is a highly regarded artist in the Northeast. With this exhibition, he wanted to introduce Robinson to the Southeast region. 

“This is his first solo show in Alabama, so I felt like it was an important moment because his work fits the kind of work that we exhibit here at the Jones Museum,” White said. 

Inspired by painters like RembrandtThomas Eakins and Andrew Wyeth, Robinson incorporates aspects of realism into his works of watercolor and graphite, capturing minute yet powerful moments in daily life. Every piece is rendered in such a way that the viewer must stop and consider the meaning behind each detailed backdrop and set of lifelike eyes.

White said the museum is happy to showcase Robinson’s work because it can intrigue the public,  impact the local conversation about art and inspire UA art students. 

“The thing about Mario’s work and why it’s important is that he is one of the most well-regarded watercolor artists working today in America,” White said. “He’s won many awards. He has his own book out. He’s just an accomplished artist.”

White said seeing the work of an accomplished artist like Robinson could inspire UA art students to make careers out of their craft. 

Though this is Robinson’s first solo exhibition in Alabama, it is not the first time he has created art in the state. 

“It could easily be said that it’s a homecoming of sorts,” Robinson said. “My professional art career began in 1994 while spending two years in Huntsville, drawing and painting portraits of local subjects. I’m honored to share my work with the great citizens of Alabama.” 

Robinson said he is honored to showcase his work at the Paul R. Jones Museum and grateful to White “for working with me every step of the way and gently guiding my decisions.”

According to Robinson, who recently returned to Alabama after moving to New Jersey as a young boy, the works selected for the exhibition are deeply personal. 

“Prior to moving back to New Jersey, I developed a working relationship with my first model, named Kenyatta ‘Plum’ Johnson. The most cherished work in the exhibition is a working study of Plum, which dates back to 2001. The works in the show were carefully chosen from my personal collection,” Robinson said. 

Robinson said he hopes Alabamians will understand that his work is centered around the human condition.

“It’s my hope that the viewers of ‘A Brush with Time’ sense the love and affection I have for the people and places I portray in my work. The coastal towns of Point Pleasant Beach and Keyport, New Jersey, have defined my adolescence and adulthood,” Robinson said. “The backdrops in the works offer a glimpse into my world. In the end, the universal theme of my work is the human condition.”

Available Artwork by MARIO ANDRES ROBINSON

AMBER ROBLES GORDON’s “Successions: Traversing US Colonialism” at American University

22 Jun

202-885-1300

museum@american.edu

Tues – Sun, 11 a.m – 4 p.m.
Closed Monday
Free admission

Media Inquiries:
AU Communications
aumedia@american.edu
202-885-5950

Successions: Traversing US Colonialism

Amber Robles-Gordon

Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah
August 29–December 12, 2021

Eternal Altar

The eternal altar for the women forsaken and souls relinquished. Yet the choice must always remain hers. El altar eterno de las mujeres abandonadas y las almas renunciadas. Sin embargo, la elección siempre debe ser de ella., 2020. Mixed media collage on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Amber Robles-Gordon presents Successions: Traversing US Colonialism, a solo exhibition on view at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in fall 2021. Successions is a conceptual juxtaposition that celebrates abstraction as an art form while leveraging it as a tool to interrogate past and current US policies within its federal district (Washington, DC) and territories (including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) that it controlsByhighlighting nuances related to US governance in its federal districts and territories, Robles-Gordon seeks to question who has access to resources, citizenship, and the right to sovereignty.

Robles-Gordon creates artwork imbued with a layered visual language replete with cultural signifiers and abstract gestures. Successions is a celebration of abstraction as an artistic expression. Robles-Gordon utilizes iconic artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Alma Thomas, Romare Bearden, and members of the Washington Color School as vivid reference points for her own dynamic use of color, form, and material within the works she created for the exhibition. These explorations will provide insights into a number of inquiries that undergird the construction of the exhibition. Successions creates a pathway towards discursive criticism around issues impacting marginalized communities oppressed by the United States’ hegemonic domestic and foreign policies. The exhibition features a new body of colorful abstract paintings, collages, and quilts created in 2020 and 2021 between San Juan, Puerto Rico (Robles-Gordon’s birthplace) and Washington, DC (where she currently lives).

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robles-Gordon’s creative strategies were directly impacted as a result of sheltering in place in San Juan. The lack of access to materials and arduous circumstances she was confronted with in Puerto Rico and upon returning to Washington, DC catalyzed Robles-Gordon to improvise her approach to making works for the exhibition. Moreover, the experience heightened her awareness of how communities on the margin are adversely treated during moments of crisis.

Robles-Gordon’s also uses works featured in Successions to mine the stories, personal narratives, and aesthetics of the women of the Caribbean, particularly of African descent in an effort to investigate the political, socio-economic, and environmental implications of placemaking, contemporary colonial policy, and notions of citizenship on these social groups. The debate over DC statehood, similar to Puerto Rico, has been a prevalent point of contention in the District but rarely featured in the national conversation. Robles-Gordon seeks to use her “backyard” as a metaphor that would expand our understanding of notions of freedom, liberty, and justice.

A fully illustrated catalog with essays by Ossei-Mensah and Noel Anderson and in-person and virtual programs will accompany the exhibition, enriching the viewer’s experience.

y mi bandara

y mi bandera vuela mas alto que la tuya, 2020. Mixed media collage on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Reflexiones

Reflexiones sobre el yo, la virgen maría y el colonialismo, 2020. Mixed media, collage on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist.

USVI Political

USVI Political, 2021. Front. Mixed media on quilt, 73 x 78 in. Courtesy of the artist.

DC Political Welcome to the District of Colonialism

DC Political, Welcome to the District of Colonialism, 2021. Front. Mixed media on quilt, 73 x 78 in. Courtesy of the artist.

USVI Spiritual Moko Jumbie

USVI Spiritual, Back, Moko Jumbie: Walk Tall and Heal Forward, 2021. Mixed media on quilt, 73 x 78 in. Courtesy of the artist.

sketch collage

Sketches done throughout residency in Puerto Rico, 2019-20.

Works in Robles-Gordon's studio

Works in Robles-Gordon’s studio.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Amber Robles-Gordon is a mixed media visual artist of Puerto Rican and West Indian heritage. She is known for her commissioned temporary and permanent public art installations for numerous government agencies, institutions, universities, and art fairs.

Robles-Gordon has over twenty years of experience exhibiting and in art education, commissioned critiques, lectures, teaching, and exhibition coordination. She received a BS in business administration from Trinity University and an MFA in painting from Howard University, Washington, DC. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including Germany, Italy, Malaysia, England, and Spain. Robles-Gordon has participated in residencies in Costa Rica, Washington, DC, and at the American Academy in Rome, Italy. Her artwork has been reviewed and featured in numerous magazines, journals, newspapers, and online publications.

Most recently, she held an online solo exhibition at Galeria de Arte, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was featured by Tafeta Gallery in the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, England, and during London Art Week. In 2022, she will create a traveling exhibition in collaboration with Cultural DC and El Cuadrado Gris Galeria in Puerto Rico.    

ABOUT THE CURATOR

Larry Ossei-Mensah uses contemporary art as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. A Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic, Ossei-Mensah has organized exhibitions and programs at commercial and nonprofit spaces around the globe from New York City to Rome, featuring artists including Firelei Baez, Allison Janae Hamilton, Brendan Fernades, Ebony G. Patterson, Modou Dieng, Glenn Kaino, Joiri Minaya and Stanley Whitney. Moreover, Ossei-Mensah has actively documented cultural happenings featuring the most dynamic visual artists working today, including Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Federico Solmi, and Kehinde Wiley.

A native of The Bronx, Ossei-Mensah is also the co-founder of ARTNOIR, a 501(c)(3) and global collective of culturalists who design multimodal experiences aimed to engage this generation’s dynamic and diverse creative class. ARTNOIR endeavors to celebrate the artistry and creativity of Black and Brown artists around the world via virtual and in-person experiences. Ossei-Mensah was a contributor to the first-ever Ghanaian Pavilion for the 2019 Venice Biennial with an essay on the work of visual artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

Ossei-Mensah is the former Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at MOCAD in Detroit and currently serves as Curator-at-Large at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where he curated the New York Times heralded exhibition Let Free Ring and A Return: Liberation as Power respectively.       

Ossei-Mensah has been profiled in publications including the New York Times, Artsy, and Cultured Magazine, and was recently named to Artnet’s 2020 Innovator List. Follow him on Instagram at @larryosseimensah and Twitter at @youngglobal.

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in See Great Art

9 Jun

ART IN THE NORTHEASTBLACK ARTISTSFEMALE ARTISTS

Maliza Kiasuwa at Morton Fine Art

BY CHADD SCOTT

POSTED ON 

Maliza Kiasuwa, A Little Red, 2021 Collage, thread and Washi paper 18 x 14 in Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Morton Fine Art (52 O Street NW #302, Washington, D.C.) presents a solo exhibition of new mixed-media works by Kenya-based visual artist Maliza Kiasuwa. Featuring twenty-one works by the artist, “Pride of Origins” recreates the precarious and ever-evolving equilibrium between the handmade and the manufactured through the juxtaposition of material.

Underscoring the cultural and commercial exchange between continents, Kiasuwa’s technically masterful works explore the ironies of post-colonial politics and invent new futures through imbrication, embroidery, and the combination of heterogenous objects. “Pride of Origins” will be on view through June 30, 2021.

Kiasuwa’s constructions are deeply rooted in the cultural, social, and political context of Kenya, but more generally, of Africa and the world. Combining handmade materials from Japan with found objects from around her farm on Lake Naivasha, in the heart of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, Kiasuwa embraces her chosen material’s earlier character and vocabulary, but transfigures their context by sewing, stitching and mending to produce unexpected narratives and representations of society, events, and global issues.

As a visual artist of European and African descent, Kiasuwa brings a panoptic perspective to her border-crossing work, which regards the coexistence of two worlds as an endless source of inspiration, and a potential space for reconciliation.

“My sculptures and collages are made of bits and pieces that I collect during my daily expeditions: cotton threads, handmade ropes made of straw or rubber, plastic bags stranded on the lakeshore,” Kiasuwa said. “These materials are representative of culture and history in the context of the global flow of goods, especially in terms of how their utility values shift over time. Sometimes I combine local materials with handmade fabrics such as Japanese Washi paper. I like to blend materials which don’t belong together.”

Presenting all new work from 2021, “Pride of Origins” unveils recent developments in Kiasuwa’s practice, which is an ongoing examination of her identity as a woman of both African and European descent, scrutinizing the meaning of duality and otherness. The very distinct, but sometimes rival, traditions of local culture and the Church similarly ungird the artist’s exploration of a “double belonging.”

“Pride of Origin” honors the raw, natural beauty of the artist’s environment, while also challenging assumptions of value in material culture to highlight the interconnectedness of the post-colonial landscape and its inheritance of consumer society.

ABOUT MALIZA KIASUWA

Maliza Kiasuwa, born in 1975, lives and works in Kenya. She creates works with stimulating and eclectic elements celebrating Africa’s mystic power of nature by using raw materials and traditional symbols of energy that flow through the veins of the continent. She transforms everyday articles by combining reductive methods of shredding and twisting with constructive processes of tying, weaving, stitching and dyeing. The process is fluid, focused and becomes a meditation.

Maliza Kiasuwa has exhibited in Kenya, Switzerland, Italy, England and the United States. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2021.

ABOUT MORTON FINE ART

Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC by curator Amy Morton, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is a fine art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that art collecting can be cultivated through an educational stance, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of substantive exhibitions and a welcoming platform for dialogue and exchange of original voice.

Morton Fine Art specializes in a stellar roster of nationally and internationally renowned artists as well as has an additional focus on artwork of the African Diaspora.

Hours: By Appointment Only. Mask Required.

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in Metal Magazine

8 Jun

Maliza Kiasuwa – Bound by historyWords by Emma Smit

MALIZA KIASUWA BOUND BY HISTORY

Morton Fine Art in Washington D.C. is featuring twenty-one works for the exhibit titled, Pride and Origins, by Kenyan-based artist Maliza Kiasuwa. This display is on view until June 30, 2021, and it showcases Kiasuwa’s investigations about the ongoing disproportionate exchanges between Africa and the Western world. Her pictorial symphonies are deeply rooted in Kenya’s cultural, social, and political context, but more generally of Africa and the modern world.

As a visual artist of European and African origin, Kiasuwa’s art transforms an isolated piece of unearthed material into an arrangement of personal narratives that tell the tales of her panoptic perspective and her own experience of the expression ‘double belonging,’ and of being othered. She blends handcrafted materials from Japan with found objects from around her farm on Lake Naivasha.

From mesh detailing, delicate embroidery and a foray of varied kinds of paper, she highlights the interconnectedness of the post-colonial landscape and its consumerist society. Transfiguring their meaning as separate beings, they lay in harmony as potential space for reconciliation once positioned together.
Maliza Kiasuwa’s exhibition Pride and Origins is now on view at Morton Fine Art in Washington D.C. until June 30.Common History 2, 2021Incomplete 1, 2021Imperfections, 2021Common History 4, 2021Common History 3, 2021Common History 1, 2021

Words
Emma Smit
Images Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Available Artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

“The Pride of Origins” – A solo exhibition of collage and fiber art by Kenya-based MALIZA KIASUWA

7 Jun

The Pride of Origins

A solo exhibition of collage and fiber art by MALIZA KIASUWA

June 2 – June 30, 2021

Video by Jarrett Hendrix

Contact the gallery for private viewing appointment, price list, additional information and acquisition.

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

info@mortonfineart.com

Featuring twenty-one works by the artist, The Pride of Origins recreates the precarious and ever-evolving equilibrium between the handmade and the manufactured through the juxtaposition of material. Underscoring the cultural and commercial exchange between continents, Kiasuwa’s technically masterful works explore the ironies of post-colonial politics and invent new futures through imbrication, embroidery, and the combination of heterogenous objects. Pride of Origins will be on view from June 2 – June 30, 2021.

Kiasuwa’s constructions are deeply rooted in the cultural, social, and political context of Kenya, but more generally of Africa and the world. Combining handmade materials from Japan with found objects from around her farm on Lake Naivasha, in the heart of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, Kiasuwa embraces her chosen material’s earlier character and vocabulary, but transfigures their context by sewing, stitching and mending to produce unexpected narratives and representations of society, events, and global issues. As a visual artist of European and African descent, Kiasuwa brings a panoptic perspective to her border-crossing work, which regards the coexistence of two worlds as an endless source of inspiration, and a potential space for reconciliation.

“My sculptures and collages are made of bits and pieces that I collect during my daily expeditions: cotton threads, handmade ropes made of straw or rubber, plastic bags stranded on the lake shore,” said visual artist Maliza Kiasuwa. “These materials are representative of culture and history in the context of the global flow of goods, especially in terms of how their utility values shift over time. Sometimes I combine local materials with handmade fabrics such as Japanese Washi paper. I like to blend materials which don’t belong together.”

Presenting all new work from 2021, Pride of Origins unveils recent developments in Kiasuwa’s practice, which is an ongoing examination of her identity as a woman of both African and European descent, scrutinizing the meaning of duality and otherness. The very distinct, but sometimes rival, traditions of local culture and the Church similarly ungird the artist’s exploration of a “double belonging.” Pride of Origin honors the raw, natural beauty of the artist’s environment, while also challenging assumptions of value in material culture to highlight the interconnectedness of the post-colonial landscape and its inheritance of consumer society.

About MALIZA KIASUWA:

Maliza Kiasuwa, born in 1975, is a visual artist of European and African descent. She lives and works in Kenya. She creates works with stimulating and eclectic elements celebrating Africa’s mystic power of nature by using raw materials and traditional symbols of energy that flow through the veins of the continent. She transforms everyday articles by combining reductive methods of shredding and twisting with constructive processes of tying, weaving, stitching and dyeing. The process is fluid, focused and becomes a meditation. Maliza Kiasuwa has exhibited in Kenya, Switzerland, Italy, England and the United States. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2021.

About MORTON FINE ART:

Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC by curator Amy Morton, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is a fine art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that art collecting can be cultivated through an educational stance, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of substantive exhibitions and a welcoming platform for dialogue and exchange of original voice. Morton Fine Art specializes in a stellar roster of nationally and internationally renowned artists as well as has an additional focus on artwork of the African Diaspora.

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

COVID-19 protocol: By appointment. Mask required. Contact the gallery for supplementary artwork documentation such as detail images and short videos. Safe, no contact door to door delivery available. Shipping nationally and internationally.

Available Artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

NATHANIEL DONNETT in VMFA’s “The Dirty South” exhibition. Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver

4 Jun

AT THE MUSEUM

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse

MAY 22, 2021 – SEPTEMBER 6, 2021

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, investigates the aesthetic impulses of early 20th-century Black culture that have proved ubiquitous to the southern region of the United States. The exhibition chronicles the pervasive sonic and visual parallels that have served to shape the contemporary landscape, and looks deeply into the frameworks of landscape, religion, and the Black body—deep meditative repositories of thought and expression. Within the visual expression, assemblage, collage, appropriation, and sonic transference are explored as deeply connected to music tradition. The visual expression of the African American South along with the Black sonic culture are overlooked tributaries to the development of art in the United States and serve as interlocutors of American modernism. This exhibition looks to the contributions of artists, academically trained as well as those who were relegated to the margins as “outsiders,” to uncover the foundational aesthetics that gave rise to the shaping of our contemporary expression.

Coronation Theme: Organon, 2008, Nadine Robinson (American, born England, 1968), speakers, sound system, mixed media. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, given by John F. Wieland Jr. in memory of Marion Hill, 2008.175. Image: © Nadine Robinson

Coronation Theme: Organon, 2008, Nadine Robinson (American, born England, 1968), speakers, sound system, mixed media. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, given by John F. Wieland Jr. in memory of Marion Hill, 2008.175. Image: © Nadine Robinson

Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver, VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, the groundbreaking exhibition explores the legacies of traditional southern aesthetics in contemporary culture and features multiple generations of artists working in a variety of genres. Among those featured in the exhibition are Thornton Dial, Allison Janae Hamilton, Arthur Jafa, Jason Moran, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Kara Walker, William Edmondson, and many others. Inherent to this discourse is the rise of southern hip-hop. The exhibition’s presentation of visual and sonic culture looks to contemporary southern hip-hop as a portal into the roots and aesthetic legacies that have long been acknowledged as “Southern” in culture, philosophical thought, and expression.

In addition to the music, the exhibition features the contemporary material culture that emerges in its wake, such as “grillz” worn as body adornment and bodily extensions such as SLAB(s) (an acronym for slow, low and banging). In highlighting the significance of car culture, the museum has commissioned a SLAB by Richard “Fiend” Jones. At its essence, southern car culture, showcases the trajectory of contemporary assemblage often highlighted in southern musical expression. Other such aspects are explored across genres over the course of a century. Beginning in the 1920s with jazz and blues, the exhibition interweaves parallels of visual and sonic culture and highlights each movement with the work of contemporary artists, creating a bridge between what has long been divided between “high” and “low” cultures. The exhibition features commercial videos and personal effects of some of the music industry’s most iconic artists—from Bo Diddley to Cee Lo Green.

From Asterisks in Dockery, 2012, Rodney McMillian (American, born 1969), vinyl, thread, wood, paint, light bulb. Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Image: © Robert Wedemeyer

From Asterisks in Dockery, 2012, Rodney McMillian (American, born 1969), vinyl, thread, wood, paint, light bulb. Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Image: © Robert Wedemeyer

Ultimately, The Dirty South creates a meta-understanding of southern expression—as personified in the visual arts, material culture, and music—as an extension of America’s first conceptual artists, those of African descent. The exhibition traces across time and history, the indelible imprint of this legacy as seen through the visual and sonic culture of today.

Cassel Oliver is also the editor of the companion publication, which will function as an essential reader on Black material and sonic culture and demonstrate its impact on contemporary art from the 1950s to the present. Featuring an anthology of critical essays by scholars such as Fred Moten, Anthony Pinn, Regina Bradley, Rhea Combs, and Guthrie Ramsey, the illustrated catalogue will document works in the exhibition as well as artists’ biographies and a chronology of iconic moments that have shaped the Black presence in the South.

VMFA has also commissioned an LP by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky aka That Subliminal Kid for the exhibition.

NATHANIEL DONNETT, I looked over Jordan and what did I see; a band of angels coming after me, 2019,
reclaimed wood, roof shingles, nails, light source, machete, glass, house paint

NATHANIEL DONNETT, I looked over Jordan and what did I see; a band of angels coming after me, 2019,
reclaimed wood, roof shingles, nails, light source, machete, glass, house paint

Available Artwork by NATHANIEL DONNETT

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in Business Daily

3 Jun
ART

Artist’s wall hanging get space in UK, US galleries

FRIDAY MAY 28 2021

By MARGARETTA WA GACHERU

Coincidentally, Maliza Kiasuwa has two solo exhibitions going on simultaneously, one in London, the other in Washington DC. Meanwhile, she still has her art at Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi where the curator of Morton Fine Art Gallery, Amy Morton is giving the Belgian-Congolese artist her first Washington DC solo show from June 2 to 22.

“Amy found my work first on Instagram, which led her to Circle Art,” recalls Maliza who has had shows at Circle gallery and Alliance Francaise since she first came to Kenya with her family in early 2013.

Speaking from her farm in Naivasha where she has been fortunate to live through the Covid-19 lockdown amidst the quiet of nature, Maliza says she has pondered many things this past year, everything from the virus, racism, to pandemic fears.

The result has been a rich outpouring of artworks, 16 of which are in London at her Ancestry exhibition at the Sulger-Buel Gallery, and 21 in the Morton Gallery in DC.

“Both are entitled ‘The Pride of Origin’ but the London show focuses more on our ‘Ancestry’, while the DC exhibition is slightly more abstract,” says the artist.

The shows have a great deal in common. Both use materials that are either recycled, organic, or handmade like the Washi paper from Japan and the homemade paper that she has made herself.

And both reflect the issue of identity in ways that compel us to consider how clashing cultures, customs, convictions, and even colours can be reconciled.

“Coming from a mixed background myself, I want my children to be proud of their ancestry, their identity,” says Maliza who admits she does not classify herself as either/or European or African, since she is both.

Seeing herself as essentially an embodiment of reconciliation, she hopes that by stitching, weaving, and blending contrasting elements, her art can reveal the beauty of merger.

Yet her two exhibitions are quite different despite their shared theme, use of mixed media and mutual forms are given that most of the works are collages.

Nonetheless, she also has several three-dimensional pieces in Washington. They include her kimono-like wall-hanging entitled ‘Imperfections’, made with Washi and handmade papers, gold threads, and assorted stitched fabrics.

I found the London show both ironic and amusing while her Washington DC one is more cerebral, organic, and abstract. What is marvellous about many of the pieces up at Sulger-Buel until mid-June is the self-mockery of works like ‘The Proud of Origins Collection I and III.’

Both pieces feature engraved portraits of her Swiss spouse’s distant relations that she found in a family attic and brought back to Africa like other ‘found objects’ she picks up during her walks around Lake Naivasha and then employs in her art.

Maliza Kiasuwa’s ‘Imperfections’ artwork at the Morton Art Gallery in Washington DC, on June 2, 2021. PHOTO | POOL

It was on top of these 18th Century images that Maliza superimposes West African masks. It is as if she is making good fun not just with her people but with European colonial culture that she feels has to embrace or at least accept the reality of African culture, whether they like it or not.

The other evidence that Maliza intends for her art to make a power statement about the equal footing that African and European cultures share is contained in her two self-portraits, one in either show.

Both blend black and white fabrics, although in London she weaves in more tweed while in Washington DC she uses more hessian.

But both use the same photograph, the artist’s mug shot, looking quite stern. The big difference is the crown worn by this dreadlocked lady on which is her regal logo, Z, short for Zaire, her original African homeland.

One might have expected the artist to be at the London exhibition. But after placing African masks (the kind Picasso and Matisse adored) over those European faces, the sensibility of her show might have shifted from being ironic and witty to abusive and easily misunderstood.

The London show has several self-portraits of Maliza although they are understated with Africanised ‘crowns’ made of animal skin or plastic fishnet mesh mixed with organic fabrics.

The handmade and the manufactured stand side-by-side in Maliza’s art. Be it black and white, realistic and abstract, dynastic and libertarian; or even bourgeois and peasant, in Maliza’s world, the time for reconciliation has come, not through wars but art.

Available Artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

MALIZA KIASUWA’s solo picked as “Best Gallery Exhibitions Summer 2021” by Observer

1 Jun

Best Gallery Exhibitions Summer 2021, From Salon 94 to Nancy Hoffman Gallery

By Erin Taylor • 06/01/21 11:59am

Welcome to Observer’s 2021 Summer Arts & Entertainment Preview, your full guide to the best the warmer months have to offer. The finest TV, movies, dance, opera, streaming theater, the visual arts and literature this season await you.

As the art world speeds to reopen in the midst of vaccinations happening nationwide, it seems that this summer will be the summer of the gallery. Gallery exhibitions, both solo and group, have always held a special place in the arts world as a place to discover emerging artists as well as appreciate long-term art world darlings. Summer 2021 across the country galleries open (or continue business as usual in the case of some) desiring a robust return of visitors to the art we love. It is of course, dizzying in a world of so much artistic talent to choose what gallery shows you wouldn’t want to miss yet we found a way.

The Pride of Origins” works by Maliza Kiasuwa in DC at Morton Fine Art (June 2 – June 30)

Kenyan artist Maliza Kiasuwa’s “The Pride of Origins” opens June 2nd at Morton Fine Art, featuring delicate mixed-media works made up of “bits and pieces” the artist collects during her daily walks. Combining traditional cultural methods of textile making with new techniques of mixed-media, Kiasuwa tackles through her work the relationship between globalization and the art world; the west and Africa; and the relationship we all have to the raw materials that make up the objects we use daily. Only showing throughout June, gallery goers in Washington D.C. won’t want to miss taking in Kiasuwa’s complex and important works. 

Click HERE to read the article in full.

Available Artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA.