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KESHA BRUCE | The Truth in This Art Podcast

22 Sep

The Truth In This Art – A Baltimore Podcast « »Artist Kesha Bruce

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Brief summary of episode:

Kesha Bruce, Born and raised in Iowa, she completed a BFA from the University of Iowa before earning an MFA in painting from Hunter College in New York City. Kesha Bruce has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), The Vermont Studio Center, The CAMAC Foundation and the Puffin Foundation. Her work is included in the collections of The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture (14 pieces), The Amistad Center for Art and Culture, The University of Iowa Women’s Center, The En Foco Photography Collection and MOMA’s Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2011.

Morton Fine Art is pleased to announce Take Me to the Water, a solo exhibition of mixed-media paintings by artist Kesha Bruce. An intuitive combination of painting, collage and textile art, Bruce’s work represents the culmination of a holistic creative practice developed by the artist over several decades. Her eighth exhibition with the gallery, Take Me to the Water will be on view from September 17 to October 11, 2022 at Morton’s Washington, D.C. space.

The wall works of Kesha Bruce are less discrete executions of a concerted vision than the steady accumulation of a long creative process. Referred to by the artist simply as paintings, these mixed-media compositions are in fact patchworks of painted fabric, individually selected from Bruce’s vast archive and pasted directly onto the canvas in a textile collage that can sometimes resemble a quilt. The result of a slow and perpetual artistic method, each work represents hours of treatment, selection and juxtaposition until the whole becomes manifestly greater than its parts. Bruce’s process ends with her titling of each work: a poetic articulation of what the work is at this point capable of expressing for itself.

Much like water, the routine behind Bruce’s artmaking is cyclical and in service to a greater equilibrium – a pointed contrast to many of the epitomic works that make up much of the traditional art histories of the past several centuries, and which tend to aggressively emphasize rupture, madness and unsustainability as the most fruitful mothers of invention. Bruce’s process is distinctly different, and points to more a promising alternative for artmaking, in which creativity and lived experience are inseparably intertwined. For Bruce, this means that art can be not only a form of self-care but an act of self-discovery. Noting that her color palette has become markedly warmer since she moved to Arizona (where she currently serves as the Director of Artist’s Programs for the state’s Commission on the Arts), the artist delineates her method as a form of strategic openness – making room and taking time to allow the materials to guide her toward their final form, rather than the other way around.

The show’s title, Take Me to the Water, alludes to a 1969 rendition of the traditional gospel song by Nina Simone at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bruce locates something transcendent in the recording of Simone’s performance that encapsulates what any form of artmaking, at its best, can be: a conversation between oneself and the divine. Deftly aware of the elemental power of water as a force that follows its own paths and forms its own shapes, Bruce identifies her artistic process closely with this element, and notes how the transcendental effects which result from it can be as overwhelming and rhythmic as the ocean waves of Big Sur.

As an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, Bruce has steadily oriented her craft toward capturing and encouraging the process of artmaking as an end in its own right – a way both of making something new and taking stock of oneself. As an administrator who oversees the creative programming for the entire state of Arizona, Bruce is intuitively attuned to the reciprocal relationship between transcendent acts of self-expression and the quotidian struggle to survive. In this role, she is a mentor and advocate for hundreds of other artists; the example she sets in her own artistic practice, with its emphasis on personal growth over commercial capitulation, thus becomes a form of potent political praxis.

The Truth In This Art

The Truth In This Art is a podcast interview series supporting vibrancy and development of Baltimore & beyond’s arts and culture.

Mentioned in this episode:

Kesha Bruce
Come see Kesha Bruce’s 8th exhibition with Morton Fine Art starting Sept. 17

To find more amazing stories from the artist and entrepreneurial scenes in & around Baltimore, check out my episode directory.

Available Artwork by KESHA BRUCE.

Artist ETO OTITIGBE speaks on his piece “Cenotaph” at Morton Fine Art

15 Jun

Video credit: Jarrett Hendrix

I construct speculative objects that echo within a residual future and the reminiscent present. These objects interrupt urban spaces, appearing to be foreign bodies, parts of an unknown whole, or agents of change. – Eto Otitigbe

Washington, D.C. – Morton Fine Art is pleased to present Materiel Remains: Consider this a blueprint, a series of blueprints., a solo exhibition and a new series of works by the multidisciplinary artist Eto Otitigbe. A creator best known for his public art installations and site-specific interventions, Otitigbe’s work revolves around the recovery of lost or repressed historical narratives and their visual possibilities within the public eye. In his first solo exhibition with Morton Fine Art, Otitigbe reflects on the recent history of public art and its institutional deployment. Materiel Remains will be on view from May 28 – June 28, 2022 in MFA’s Washington, D.C. gallery.

ETO OTITIGBE | Surface Magazine | Artist Statement

13 Jun

ARTIST STATEMENT

Eto Otitigbe’s Blueprint for Excavating Unseen Histories

Seeking to bring history’s repressed narratives to light, the Philadelphia artist meticulously engraves remnants of his own public sculptures onto wood panels to create imaginative inquests for future archaeologists.

BY RYAN WADDOUPS

June 13, 2022

“Don’t You Know That Eye Can Read Your Eyes” (2022) by Eto Otitigbe. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.

Bio: Eto Otitigbe, 45, Brooklyn and Philadelphia (@etootitigbe)

Title of workDon’t You Know That Eye Can Read Your Eyes (2022).

Where to see it: “Materiel Remains” at Morton Fine Art Gallery (52 O St NW, #302, Washington, DC) until June 28.

Three words to describe it: Chemistry, polyvisual, medusa.

What was on your mind at the time: Rummaging through my past and trying to get out of my own way. I wanted to create an image that was about seeing through darkness.

An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: Below many thin layers of acrylic paint is an engraved aluminum plate that was treated with a fluid wash of gun-blackener, which brings with it associations to industry and weaponry. There are a few areas where I removed the acrylic paint and you can see the base layer of metal along with subtle reflections of ambient color and light. The color palette is inspired by syntax highlighting color schemes that are used in software programming languages. This color scheme in particular favors green as a base color alongside other saturated colors that create a sort of electrified static against dark black computer screens. Each color is representative of a unique way that language functions while scripting computer code.

How it reflects your practice as a whole: My process starts with drawing linear patterns-abstractions, or abstract-actions, of structural elements from my previous sculptures and public art projects. Rearranging or remixing prior blueprints expands the visual language of each project and conjoins them. Using software and digital fabrication, the drawings are carved into aluminum plates. I work with artists who run machine shops allowing for detours from the computational blueprints. During the engraving process, machines are stopped, and adjusted, toolpaths are changed; resulting in improvised variations. This process creates branches of work as the concept drawing is met with formal concerns raised by the material. Sanding occurs between each layer to create a sense of visual tension between the carved lines and liquid forms. Likened to a kind of excavation, the engraved lines fluctuate between visibility and invisibility among the layers of acrylic and gun blackened.

One song that captures its essence: I keep looking at and looking into this piece. Siba Dub Plate sets the tone for this kind of introspective journey.

Available Artwork by ETO OTITIGBE

LIZETTE CHIRRIME in OkayAfrica

18 May

Mozambique

Spotlight

Spotlight: Mozambican Lizette Chirrime On Stumbling Into Artistry

Zee Ngema

Mozambican artist Lizette Chirrime

Photo courtesy of the artist 

Chirrime’s latest exhibition, Rituals for Soul Search embodies the artist’s desire to bring audience members closer to nature, the Universe, and their souls.

In our ‘Spotlight‘ series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Mozambican textile artistLizette ChirrimeThe self-taught multidisciplinary artist channels her trauma and longing to be whole through her artwork. “These abstract forms evoke the human body and my identity-responsive practice where I refashion my self-image and transcend a painful upbringing that left me shattered and broken. I literally ‘re-stitched’ myself together. These liberated ‘souls’ are depicted ‘dancing’ on the canvas, bringing to mind, well-dressed African women celebrating”, Chirrime says in her own words. The artist uses her creations to communicate the beauty in simplicity, and the divinity of being African.

We spoke with the Chirrime about accidentally finding her medium of choice, using color to express emotions, and focusing your energy on being awesome.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Describe your background as an artist and the journey you’ve taken to get it to where it is today.

When I started, I had no idea that I was an artist. I loved to create beautiful environments wherever I went, and when people noticed, they began giving me that title. I was using techniques that deviated from what was common at the time, particularly working with recycled materials, which I think situated me as a creative within my communities.

What are the central themes in your work?

Womanhood, Mother Earth, love, awesomeness, and spirituality.

How did you decide on using textiles to express your art?

It all started when I began working with hessian fabric, mainly, deciding to change the way it was treated in many houses. I gave it more life and a better look, and when the healing was done, I moved on to colorful fabrics in search of joy and life.

In the early 2000s, I began working with scrap materials, having been compelled to create a doll from textiles one evening. I fell in love with the medium and haven’t stopped creating since, though the way in which I utilize textiles continues to evolve.

Can you talk about your use of colors and symbolism in your art?

I use the colors I do — shades of red, blue, and green — because they remind me of beauty. They’re the vehicles I use to both express my feelings and describe certain narratives behind my expression. Symbolically, I look to nature for inspiration and translate the environment around me into symbols within my pieces. Looking to nature helps to find one’s place within the universe, and I want to help people see the value in slowness and simplicity. I hope that my work helps people appreciate how miraculous our planet is and inspires them to heal the earth from destruction.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

I relocated to Mozambique during the pandemic, after living in South Africa for many years, and have felt an incredible shift in my capacity to be present. Being removed from a city and with a slower pace of life, I’ve been able to reconnect with myself and have a direct conversation with my spirit and soul, which directly feeds into my work and the current ideas which I’m exploring.

Luckily, I didn’t feel very affected by the pandemic because I’ve had a few sponsors and continued to sell my artwork through that time. Though I didn’t sell as much as I did prior, I still managed to pay my bills, eat and create — I’m thankful to have met my needs as an artist.

Image courtesy of the artist

African Single Mother, 2021

Available Artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME

Mozambican textile artist LIZETTE CHIRRIME speaks to her inspiration and art practice

2 May

Video credit: Jarrett Hendrix

Working primarily with recycled materials, Lizette Chirrime’s practice has a marked foundation in personal and traditional spirituality. Chirrime describes her creative process as “a prayer to the Universe”–an intention to heal the earth from overconsumption, pollution and greed. Sourcing scrap materials from her environment and immediate communities, Chirrime uses fabric, burlap, rope, paint, beads, leather and more to produce dynamic collages that speak to African womanhood, and more broadly, the human condition. Finding inspiration in the natural world–the vastness of the ocean, the hues of the sunrise, the evolution of a storm–Chirrime’s pieces are layered with a poetic consideration for what she calls “the essence of life.”

Her solo exhibition “Rituals for Soul Search” is on view at Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC by appointment through May 22, 2022.

Visit http://www.mortonfineart.com to view available artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME.

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY’s solo “Descartes Died in the Snow” featured in On Paper Journal of The Washington Print Club

28 Apr

Available Artwork by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY

New Arrivals | Sculpted Paintings by JENNY WU

16 Apr

Jenny Wu transforms liquid paint into sculpture built from layers of latex paint poured on glass, color over color, to form a thick cake-like aggregate. Once dried, the material is cut into small brick-like forms and assembled in vibrant patterns on a flat surface, revealing in cross-section the varied strata of paint from the pouring and layering process. Like geological formations, Wu’s method of building up paint is dependent on time, repetition and chance with her resulting objects uniting chaos and order into a systematic imagery that blurs the boundaries between painting and sculpture.

Jenny Wu
2+ Year Long Middle School Dodgeball Game, 2022
latex paint and resin on wood panel
20 x 10 x 2.50 in
Jenny Wu
Adults Were Not Okay, 2021
latex paint and resin on wood panel
20 x 16 x 2.50 in

Jenny Wu
Meaningful Access, 2020
latex paint and resin on wood panel
20 x 16 x 2.50 in

Jenny Wu
Carefully Editing An Email Response, 2021
latex paint and resin on wood panel
24 x 18 x 2.50 in

Jenny Wu
Hardly A Mandate, 2021
latex paint and resin on wood panel
20 x 16 x 2.50 in

Jenny Wu
Have Always Existed and Will Always Exist, 2022
latex paint and resin on wood panel
36 x 24 x 2.50 in

Jenny Wu
Letting Referees Openly Bet On Games, 2021
latex paint and resin on wood panel
36 x 24 x 2.50 in

Jenny Wu
Live In #DontLookUp, 2022
latex paint and resin on wood panel
18 x 18 x 2.50 in

Jenny Wu
Too Heavy to Carry to the British Museum, 2022
latex paint and resin on wood panel
20 x 16 x 2.50 in

Jenny Wu
Got Scared & Bought It, 2021
latex paint and resin on wood panel
20 x 20 x 2.50 in

About the Artist:

Jenny Wu was born in Nanjing, China. She holds a B.A. from William Smith College in Studio Art as well as in Architectural Studies, and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from American University. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums including Denise Bibro Fine Art, Katzen Museum, Huntington Museum of Art, Reece Museum, Vilnius Academy of Arts in Lithuania, and CICA Museum in South Korea. Wu has participated in numerous Artist-In-Residence programs across the country; and has been awarded fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and the Pollock Krasner Foundation. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2021.

Available artwork by JENNY WU.

New “Not Geo” Collages by LISA MYERS BULMASH

23 Mar
LISA MYERS BULMASH, Not Geo : Woman, 2022, 12″x9″, ink, hand-marbled and rice paper collage on watercolor paper

Seattle-based artist LISA MYERS BULMASH writes on her new series “Not Geo”:

Sifting through vintage images of Black people can be hazardous to your mental health – if
you’re not prepared for what you might see. Even well-executed illustrations carry racist
baggage. The cover story, if you will, was that scientists were studying anthropological “types” in
the same way Charles Darwin might have drawn animal fossils. This kind of reasoning
continued well into the 20 th century. That’s how National Geographic magazine justified
publishing nude photos of people of color, for more than 100 years.

LISA MYERS BULMASH, Not Geo : Braiding, 12″x9″, ink, hand-marbled and rice paper collage on watercolor paper
LISA MYERS BULMASH, Not Geo : Sitting Man, 2022, 12″x9″, ink, hand-marbled and rice paper collage on watercolor paper

The “Not Geo” series of collages is a play on National Geographic’s nickname, Nat Geo. Rather
than perpetuating stereotypes, however, I’ve decided to rehab them with contemporary collage
elements. Each person’s image is highlighted with marbled paper, elevating their presence
much like actual marble does for classical sculpture. Delicate rice paper fragments and
watercolors add a contrasting softness. My hope is that a touch of irony and humor will help
restore some dignity to people once reduced to specimens. – LISA MYERS BULMASH

LISA MYERS BULMASH, Not Geo : Girl, 2022, 12″x9″, ink, hand-marbled and rice paper collage on watercolor paper
LISA MYERS BULMASH, Not Geo : Crossed Arms, 2022, 12″x9″, ink, hand-marbled and rice paper collage on watercolor paper

Available artwork by LISA MYERS BULMASH

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY’s solo exhibition of experimental printmaking “Descartes Died in the Snow”

15 Mar

Video credit: Jarrett Hendrix

Morton Fine Art is pleased to present Descartes Died in the Snow, a solo exhibition showcasing work by Washington, D.C.-based artist Rosemary Feit Covey, on view from March 3–March 31, 2022. Marking both the debut of new work and the reactivation of older works, the exhibition uncovers new dimensions within the artist’s vast oeuvre. Taken as a whole, this collection of work illuminates the fragility of life on our embattled planet, recognizing the catastrophic ecological losses that mark our current era while turning a hopeful eye towards altogether new horizons.

Covey’s current focus on environmental concerns is informed by 20 years of collaborations with scientists, during which biology, ecology, and mortality have remained steady themes of the artist’s practice. The past three decades have seen the artist rise as an established wood engraver, followed in recent years by an expansion towards mediums including experimental printmaking and mixed media. From the replication of the printmaking process to the carving of the printing block, Covey’s works attend to personal analogies of physical and emotional fortitude; through the manipulation of absence and presence, lightness and darkness, the artist evokes a darker psychological sensibility within complex figural representations.

While maintaining the artist’s long-standing engagement with psychologically challenging—and oftentimes troubling—subject matter, the diversification of Covey’s mediums highlights the artist’s continued innovation in the arenas of both technique and narrative. In a titular nod to the life and work of 17th century philosopher René Descartes, Descartes Died in the Snow reflects Covey’s own artistic philosophy, that of art-as-exploration. In admiration of Descartes’ unfettered curiosity and his resulting great lengths of inquiry, Covey draws parallels with the experimental potential of artistic practice. “We artists can apply logic and intellectual research, then throw it all to the winds, allowing for alchemy and the unconscious to cross-pollinate with the natural sciences as we create,” Covey says.

Moved by recent climate disaster scenarios in South Africa—the country of her birth—Covey’s most recent work responds to the fleeting nature of news cycles and the failure of journalistic channels to manifest sustained public awareness of such crucial issues. Having witnessed this subject matter quickly fall from the front pages, Covey understands her work to serve as an enduring reminder of environmental crises within a global consciousness. Of this profound responsibility as an artist in the present moment, Covey affirms, “In this manner, I am committed to using my skills to portray this delicate balance as we reach a precipice.”

Through delicate lines that comprise masterful compositions, Covey’s work operates at the intersections of beauty and terror, depicting melancholy aesthetics of mourning. From a mass of opalescent strokes, Covey’s Broken Earth (2020) pictures a heap of carcesses, inspired by Covey’s horror of an imagined parched earth. Elsewhere, blooms of pigment suggest oil spills, and falling petals hint at impending decay. Through a push and pull, characterized by sensorial enticement segueing into gripping existential inquiry, the artist’s foreboding imagery unmasks that which is hidden in plain sight.

ABOUT ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Rosemary Feit Covey received degrees from Cornell University and the Maryland Institute College of Art, eventually relocating to Washington, D.C., where she currently lives and works. Covey has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2010.

Covey has exhibited widely throughout the United States and abroad, including group exhibitions at the National Collection of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Solo exhibitions of her work have been staged at The Butler Institute of American Art; The Delaware Contemporary; the International Museum of Surgical Science; and the Evergreen Museum at Johns Hopkins University. Works by the artist are held in more than forty major museum and library collections worldwide, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art; New York Public Library Print Collection; National Museum of American History; Harvard University; and the Papyrus Institute in Cairo, Egypt.

Across various mediums, Covey has been commissioned by General Electric Astro Space, the National Institute of Science, Georgetown University, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, among other institutions and organizations. Covey’s literary illustrations have been commissioned and published by Simon & Schuster and William Morrow. She is the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and Alpha Delta Kappa Foundation National Fine Art Award, and was the 2007–2008 Artist-in-Residence at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Available Artwork by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY

NATHANIEL DONNETT | Backpack Exchange Project | MCLA Arts and Culture

5 Mar

Artist Brings Backpack Exchange for New Project

By

 Jillian Currier

 –

March 2, 2022

Nathaniel Donnett, current ART LAB Artist in Residence, is bringing students together with a backpack exchange. Used backpacks given to Donnett will be featured in his new art project.

MCLA Arts and Culture is welcoming Nathaniel Donnett, the current ART LAB Artist in Residence, to bring students together in a backpack exchange. Students participating in the exchange will give up their old backpacks to be used in a unique art piece done by Donnett.

“Generally, when you have a backpack, it’s usually moving along with a body and carrying some kind of information. It also has a history based on the relationship with the person who’s attached to it. That kind of history is attached to the object— the backpack,” Donnett said in an interview with The Beacon.

The backpack exchange not only involves the student’s old backpack to be used in the new 2-D piece, but it also involves a yearbook-style photo of the student as well as quick questions asked by Donnett to help access the past, present, and future regarding the student and the piece itself.

The idea behind using backpacks for these pieces stems from an older project that Donnett worked on in Houston, which involved the idea behind objects as symbols, and the symbolism that something as simple as a backpack can carry. The yearbook-style photos are taken along with the exchange of the backpacks to be used in an archival ‘yearbook’ encapsulating the project and the student’s involvement.

“I thought it would be interesting that the book wouldn’t be something that would just be for me,” Donnett explained. He went on to say that the yearbook would be a way to expand his outreach of the project through the participating students, as well as creating something that the students can look back on.

Donnett focused on backpack exchanges as well in Houston, with the idea of objects being symbols as the driving force. He explained how after once seeing a backpack hung over a fence, it made him realize just how many meanings a simple object could convey.

“This time I wanted to get more activity from the spaces where the students are from, which is why I wanted to go to the schools,” said Donnett. The project in Houston kept the backpacks in one piece, but Donnett wanted to take it further and create something that transforms the backpacks, while also leaving a piece of them behind for the students.

The finished pieces of the backpacks will be on display at Gallery 51 in downtown North Adams at the end of Donnett’s residency with ART LAB, which will open in October of 2022.
Nicholas Rigger, the program coordinator for MAC, explained that all ART LAB Artists in Residence have the opportunity for a solo show at the gallery. The yearbook documenting the students’ experiences and photos for the piece will be archived in the library as well.

As for student’s potential hesitance, Donnett explained that “it’s just something that has to be experienced.” He went on to say that every experience he’s had with a student during the exchange so far has just been fun and eye opening to see students trip up when engaged about their past.

“The idea of just reflecting on some of the questions and thinking about it in a different way is interesting, and to see all these different voices come together in a kind of object is also interesting to find where you are in the piece,” Donnett explained.

“To know that a part of you is now something more, and to gain some sort of perspective…” Rigger said, is why students should be open to this experience and interested in collaborating.

The backpack exchange is available to students in the Campus Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Any student that is interested that is not available during those times or wants to participate after March 1 can visit Gallery 51 or can reach out to either Nathaniel Donnett or Nicholas Rigger.

Available artwork by NATHANIEL DONNETT