Archive | Exhibitions RSS feed for this section

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

LIZETTE CHIRRIME | Rituals for Soul Search | in ArtPlugged

13 Apr

Lizette Chirrime: Rituals for Soul Search

Exhibitions

Lizette Chirrime: Rituals for Soul Search
April 23 to May 22, 2022
Morton Fine Art
52 O Street NW #302
Washington, DC

Morton Fine Art (52 O Street NW #302 Washington, DC) is pleased to present Rituals for Soul Search, a solo exhibition of multimedia textile works by Mozambican artist, Lizette Chirrime; on view from April 23 to May 22, 2022. Presenting an array of collaged pieces that foreground her relationship to self and home, this body of work blends abstract, symbolic and figurative imagery as a means to analyze the largely unseen forces that guide and determine our realities.

Lizette Chirrime
Portrait of the artist
Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

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.

Lizette Chirrime– The Boy Who Stopped the Snake, 2014
Fabric collage 58 x 50″
Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

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.”

Foregrounding her relationship to heritage and presence, Chirrime uses shades of amber, blue and red to produce works that evoke sentiments of love, loss, dissolution and connection. In the piece titled African Single Mother, a woman’s form stitched from black cloth stands alone, as an aged portrait of a maternal figure watches closely in the background.

Lizette Chirrime
As Minhas Percorridas, 2022 37 x 59.5″
Fabric and mixed media stitched on canvasCourtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Speaking to ancestry and guidance, the single mother’s aloneness is made complicated by the ephemeral eye of a woman who has been here before. In another piece, The Boy Who Stopped the Snake, a multicolored masculine figure, constructed from hundreds of pieces of African fabric, holds a colossal serpent stitched of patterned brown cloth–the boy is dynamic, having achieved mastery over that which would have otherwise caused destruction.

Lizette Chirrime
African Single Mother, 2021
Fabric collage and machine sewing 44 x 34.50″
Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

In newer works, Chirrime foregrounds stitching techniques as a means to create complex landscapes and figurative imagery. Primarily selecting strips of fabric in shades of blue and red, the resultant pieces evoke sentiments of territorial exploration, as the colors of the lived environment are saturated and made alive.

In a piece titled As Minhas Percorridas–which translates to My Travels–Chirrime creates a layered and multi-directional mosaic of her life’s journey, situating the home as a space of respite. Similarly, in Connexão Ancestral, the artist weaves together 24 distinct stitched works as a representation of the largely unseen familial forces, which collectively, form the tapestry of life.

In all works presented in Rituals for Soul Search, Chirrime is in direct conversation with soul and spirit, consistently seeking purpose within the Universe and always led by an intuitive understanding of materiality. In her own words: “I let my soul decide which way to go… I never know where I’m going. Only what I need to narrate and express.”

Learn more about Rituals for Soul Search

©2022 Lizette Chirrime, Morton Fine Art

Available Artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY’s solo “Descartes Died in the Snow” reviewed in The Washington Post

18 Mar

Art

Review

In the galleries: Uncovering life’s fragility amid ecological losses

Artist’s works are an enduring reminder of environmental crises within a global consciousness

By Mark Jenkins

Contributing reporter

March 18, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

Artist Rosemary Feit Covey’s “Stained Grass” incorporates her vision of nature at risk. (Rosemary Feit Covey and Morton Fine Art)
Covey’s “Blossoms Fall II.” (Rosemary Feit Covey and Morton Fine Art)

Somewhere in most of Rosemary Feit Covey’s recent artworks are woodcut prints, detailed renderings of birds, bones and butterfly wings. But the zoological imagery can be deeply submerged in compositions so layered that they verge on being relief sculptures. The South Africa-born local artist’s “Descartes Died in the Snow” show, named for one of her mixed-media pictures on display at Morton Fine Art, both depicts and simulates nature’s fecundity.

The largest piece, and one of the oldest, 2017′s “Black Ice” is a monumental painting of a glacial scene stretched across eight vertical canvases in the manner of a traditional Japanese screen. It is simpler and more direct than many of these artworks, yet shares several qualities. It’s nearly monochromatic, portrays ecological threats and mixes customary artistic materials with shredded plastic, a substance that exemplifies mankind’s intrusions on the natural world.

Inspired in part by the organic networks generated by fungi, Covey fills her pictures with repeated organic forms, whether the animal skeletons of “Broken Earth” or the firefly-like pinpoints of “Panspermia III.” The latter is among the show’s most colorful works, but its many hues are buried in a complex array that appears black and white from a distance. The colors are subordinate to the whole, as are the recycled plastic mixed with pigment, or the tiny black magnets that hold in place the myriad collage pieces. Covey’s vision is of nature at risk, yet nonetheless growing abundantly and every which way.

Rosemary Feit Covey: Descartes Died in the Snow Through March 31 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

Available artwork by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY

STEPHON SENEGAL | “Making Space” | New Allegheny Art Gallery

8 Mar

New Allegheny Art Gallery, “Making Space” opens

Mo Mansour, Features Editor

March 4, 2022

New+Allegheny+Art+Gallery%2C+Making+Space+opens

Gallery|4 Photos

The Allegheny Art Galleries are showcasing the work of four artists in the recently opened “Making Space.” The gallery is located in the Doane Hall of Art and opened on Tuesday, March 1, and will continue to be open to the public until April 2.
“This is an exhibition that is a little bit of a departure from what we often do,” said Assistant Professor of Art History Paula Burleigh, who worked with the director of Erie Arts & Culture, Patrick Fisher, to get in touch with the artists and to get their work in the gallery. “(This gallery) was an effort to kind of recognize the really exciting work that’s being done in Erie right now by Erie Arts & Culture.” The artists featured are all alumni of the Erie Arts & Culture month-long residency program. The program is designed in partnership with the Florida based arts non-profit Long Road Projects to put contemporary artists from all over the country and the world in the Erie community and give them a month of “dedicated time and space to reflect, research, and create new bodies of work — outside of their usual environments,” according to their website. The four artists whose work is featured in “Making Space” are Gonzalo Hernandez, Sharon Norwood, Hiromi Moneyhun and Stephon Senegal, each artist coming from a different cultural background that influences the work being shown in the gallery.
Hernandez is originally from Peru and uses his familiarity with Peruvian textiles in his work. Norwood is African-American and her work centers around that experience and the folklore that surrounds that experience both historically and contemporary. Moneyhun was born in Kyoto, and despite moving to Florida in 2004, references her background in her art, with many of her illustrated work being a combination of more traditional Japanese art with the heightened contemporaneousness of modern age Japan. Senegal is focused on West Africa, taking influence from the stories and mythologies found there for his art.
“I think all the artists in the show are really thinking about the space of the gallery and trying to disrupt what Sharon Norwood calls ‘the historically white space of the gallery,’” Burleigh said.
Burleigh said that the pieces thread together throughout the gallery.
“We can think about the gallery as a white cube, you know, we are very resolutely white walls,” Burleigh said. “Historically, it’s been a kind of a racially monolithic space that was exclusionary, and I think all of these artists are really thinking explicitly about that in the way that they are making space in their work. For stories, narratives, new mythologies proliferate from a range of communities and cultures. And so, they’re all now based in the United States, but in many instances, they’re working from communities that connect to their own Heritage’s.” The next show that the Allegheny Art gallery will be hosting is the annual open student show. Unlike the other student shows that take place during the year which are tied to course work like the junior seminar or the senior comp, the annual open student show is open to all Allegheny students. Students’ major and whether they have taken an art class before are not factors, however just because a piece of art is submitted does not mean that it will be put in the gallery. After two days of “intake,” when the art is submitted, a third-party judge not affiliated with the college comes in to evaluate the works.. The student work that is not accepted into the gallery is not discarded or disregarded, but collected by the Student Art Society and is shown in the Box Gallery. There are also the two other student shows happening in the spring semester.
“Making Space” will also serve as a gathering space for a music event featuring Douglas Jurs, assistant professor of music, as well as a visiting artist on March 11. A virtual panel discussion featuring all four artists will take place Tuesday, March 15 beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Available artwork by STEPHON SENEGAL

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY’s solo “Descartes Died in the Snow” in Old Town Crier

4 Mar




Arts & EntertainmentGallery Beat
“Descartes Died in the Snow” at Morton Fine Arts
March 1, 2022 By Oldtowncrier
By F. Lennox Campello
The owner and director of one of the hardest working visual fine arts galleries in the DMV, as well as a one of the planet’s happiest smiles is Amy Morton, who cut her teeth in the gallery business many years ago in Alexandria, and for the past decade plus or so has been running Morton Fine Art at 52 O Street NW #302 in the District.
And MFA, as the gallery is known, will be presenting “Descartes Died in the Snow”, a solo exhibition showcasing work by DMV artist Rosemary Feit Covey (and long-time Torpedo Factory presence in Studio 224), on view from March 3–March 31, 2022.
MFA notes that this exhibition will be “marking both the debut of new work and the reactivation of older works”, and that 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 is not only a master printmaker, but I have never come across anyone who has married the technical challenges of printmaking with more sophisticated approaches and ideas than this South African ex-pat!
In fact, I think that she may just be the best printmaker on the planet!  I’ve been following the career of this master printmaker for years now… and for years I have been mesmerized by not only her technical skill, but also by her powerful and often breathtaking imagery.
Over the years I’ve also seen Covey do something that few artists do well: she keeps pushing and redefining the genre of printmaking to the point that she can no longer be categorized and labeled simply as a printmaker.
And thus I’ve managed to label her both as the best printmaker on the planet, and also not just a printmaker… see where I’m heading?
Covey’s current focus is 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.”
In the monumental piece “Black Ice”, circa 2017, and a spectacular 72×240 inches — a wood engraving, acrylic paint and plastic on canvas – Covey uses all of her full and enviable artistic skills to deliver a work of such artistic musculature that one immediately imagines it as the centerpiece in a vast white wall in an important museum which can help deliver it’s clever and stern message.
MFA also notes that 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.” It is a perfect description of Covey’s intelligent assembly of powerful imagery with often disturbing, sometimes sexual, and often dark subjects.
MFA says that “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.
We are also told that “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.”
It is clear that Covey feels that artists have a certain responsibility to deal with such subjects and she affirms, “In this manner, I am committed to using my skills to portray this delicate balance as we reach a precipice.”
And it is through her refined technical talents and unerring vison that Covey’s audience is “issued solemn warnings of a speculative future, yet the possibilities for healing are never voided—viewers need only look closer to find them.”
Do not miss this show.

Available artwork by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY
 


ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY’S solo exhibition “DESCARTES DIED IN THE SNOW” at Morton Fine Art

3 Mar

ARTIST ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY VISUALIZES LOSS AND REBIRTH IN THE AGE OF THE ANTHROPOCENE

Responsive to the rise in global climate disasters, Rosemary Feit Covey’s speculative works solemnly imagine the landscapes of the future

Morton Fine Art (52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC) 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.

While often ominous, Covey’s practice nevertheless evades nihilism; through the elevation of phenomena such as fungal networks, the artist’s work also finds its purpose in illuminating the structures which sustain the planet. Resulting from Covey’s partnerships with mycologists, Amethyst Deceivers (2019) depicts the symbiotic relationships between plant and fungal life, relationships that exude restorative potential amidst times of destruction. Through the artist’s lens, Covey’s audience is issued solemn warnings of a speculative future, yet the possibilities for healing are never voided—viewers need only look closer to find them.

Rosemary Feit Covey, Blossoms Fall II, 2022, 54″x42″, wood engraving, painting and repurposed plastic on canvas
Rosemary Feit Covey, Black Umbrella, 2021, 36″x36″, mixed media, printmaking, painting and magnets on canvas
Rosemary Feit Covey, Black Ice (8 panels), 2017, 72″x240″, wood engraving, acrylic paint, and repurposed plastic on canvas
Rosemary Feit Covey, Panspermia III, 2022, 60″x48″, wood engraving, experimental printmaking and mixed media on canvas

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

VICTOR EKPUK’s site specific installation at The Phillips Collection

21 Feb


LOCAL ARTIST VICTOR EKPUK’S GRAPHIC INSTALLATION, INSPIRED BY ANCIENT NIGERIAN SCRIPT, TRANSFORMS THE MAIN VISITOR ENTRANCE TO THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION

July 1, 2021

Photo of Victor Ekpuk standing in a large circular room covered in his artwork
Photo credit: Robin Bell

Titled State of the Union: Things have fallen apart, can the center still hold?, the installation is made of adhesive vinyl that covers the museum’s vestibule, and is one of three commissions, all by DC-based artists, that celebrate the Phillips’s 100th anniversary this year.

THE ARTIST:
Victor Ekpuk (b. 1964, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria; lives in Washington, DC)
Victor Ekpuk is internationally renowned for his paintings, drawings, and sculptures, which reimagine the ancient Nigerian communication system, Nsibidi, to create his own unique language of abstraction. Ekpuk draws from African and global contemporary art discourse to explore the human condition. In recent years, Ekpuk has focused on large-scale murals, installations, and public art projects, including a 30 x 18-foot mural for the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2017, and a 20-foot metal sculpture Hope and Dream Under Glory housed at Boone Elementary School in Southeast DC in 2019.

Ekpuk holds a BFA from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. His awards include a Smithsonian Fellowship. His work has been featured in national and international exhibitions, including Dakar Biennial, Senegal; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC; Somerset House, London; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; and the 12th Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba. Ekpuk’s work is included in numerous collections including the Bank ABC International Headquarters in the Kingdom of Bahrain; Hood Museum, Hanover, New Hampshire; Newark Museum of Art, New Jersey; and in Washington, DC, at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, The World Bank, United States Art in Embassies Art Collection, and Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

“In the vestibule of The Phillips Collection, I want to welcome visitors to a sense of a spiritual sacred space through an immersive experience. Through my ‘script’ drawings, the distinction between writing and visual art, legibility and illegibility are all dissolved. This process encourages viewers to experience my work in a holistic manner, allowing the abstraction rooted in ancestral knowledge and indigenous power symbols to build intuitive meaning. In the vestibule, I wish to create a collective experience across cultures and space to connect the ancient past and the contemporary moment,” Ekpuk says.

COMMISSIONS CREDIT LINE
The Phillips Collection’s Centennial Artist Commissions are supported generously by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Frauke de Looper Trust, and the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.

IMAGES
IMAGE: Victor Ekpuk in front of his artwork State of the Union: Things have fallen apart, can the center still hold?, Photo by Robin Bell

High resolution images of the artists available upon request. Images of the installations will be shared upon completion of the projects.

ABOUT THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION
The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, was founded in 1921. The museum houses one of the world’s most celebrated Impressionist and American modern art collections, and continues to grow its collection with important contemporary voices. Its distinctive building combines extensive new galleries with the former home of its founder, Duncan Phillips. The Phillips’s impact spreads nationally and internationally through its diverse and experimental special exhibitions and events, including its award-winning education programs for educators, students, and adults; renowned Phillips Music series; and dynamic art and wellness and Phillips after 5 events. The museum contributes to global dialogues with events like Conversations with Artists and Artists of Conscience. The Phillips Collection values its community partnerships with the University of Maryland—the museum’s nexus for scholarly exchange and interdisciplinary collaborations—and THEARC—the museum’s satellite campus in Southeast DC. The Phillips Collection is a private, non-government museum, supported primarily by donations.      

Available Artwork by VICTOR EKPUK

JENNY WU | Exhibition at George Mason University

7 Feb
JENNY WU, Hardly A Mandate, 2021, 20″x16″x.2.5″, latex paint and resin on wood panel

Tuesday, Feb 22, 2022 10:00am

Hylton Performing Arts Center, Buchanan Partners Art Gallery

In the Aggregate

February 22 –April 3 

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.

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 in Washington, DC since 2021.

Available Artwork by JENNY WU

CHOICHUN LEUNG’s solo “The Watchful Eyes” reviewed in The Washington Post

6 Feb

Arts & Entertainment

Review

In the galleries: Artist’s imagery examines community-building in the aftermath of trauma

Choichun Leung’s decade-long Young Girl Project focuses on a show of solidarity

By Mark Jenkins

Contributing reporter

February 4, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EST

Choichun Leung, The Watchful Eyes, 2021, 64″x55″, acrylic, pen and graphite on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art.

In Choichun Leung’s “The Watchful Eyes,” a show of paintings and drawings at Morton Fine Art, the drawings seem to dominate. That’s not because the paintings, which are bigger and more colorful, are less compelling on their own terms. But the black-and-white renderings of girls, which speak to the artist’s concern with childhood sexual abuse, set the tone for all the work. Images from the drawings infiltrate the paintings, where they become more abstract yet remain charged and haunting.

Leung is a Chinese-British artist who grew up in Wales and is now based in Brooklyn. She performed traditional Chinese music and earned a degree in metalsmithing before teaching herself to paint. Her original style was abstract and aqueous, suggesting the sea that laps three sides of her childhood homeland. There are glimmers of that style in Leung’s more recent work, but the pictures are dominated by the figures of girls, often banded together as multitudes. In the show’s title work, dozens of heads float amid a profusion of disembodied hands and dotted lines that represent energy flowing within and among bodies.

This show marks the 10th anniversary of the Young Girl Project, an anti-abuse organization Leung founded in 2012. A drawing the artist made that year, “Bound Girl,” shows a child wrapped almost entirely in rope. That captive figure reappears in later works, but always accompanied — in an imagined show of solidarity — by other, unfettered children. In the strikingly arrayed “Girl Gang,” from 2020, a tight cluster of dark-haired heads is surrounded by smaller heads in the distance. (Perhaps because they’re in some sense autobiographical, the girls in these pictures always appear Asian, but a wider array of ethnicities, as well as a boy, appear in Leung’s drawings on the Young Girl Project’s website.)

Brightly hued and more complexly composed, the paintings place the girls in appealingly surreal landscapes. Leung once worked as an assistant to pop artist Peter Max, and her pictures have some of his comic-book-like directness and verve. In such pictures as “Four Girls in the Dreamworld,” rendered in ink and gouache, the hard-edge figures move among soft shapes and watery colors. Leung’s glowing reveries are animated by trauma, but they can look like places of refuge.

Choichun Leung: The Watchful Eyes Through Feb. 17 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, #302. Open by appointment.

Available Artwork by CHOICHUN LEUNG

CHOICHUN LEUNG | Cultured Magazine

21 Jan

Subscribe

Cutlured Mag

 

Choichun Leung Uses Art to Communicate with Survivors

ART

Choichun Leung Uses Art to Communicate with Survivors

The painter shares her latest body of work, her nonprofit and how the two have created pathways towards healing from childhood sexual abuse.WORDS

January 19, 2022

Choichun Leung is, as she puts it, the “product of a Chinese takeaway upbringing.” The artist grew up in Wales—her mother from the UK, her father from Hong Kong—where, from a young age, she began cooking and working at the family restaurant. She says that while her father was also creative, his circumstances as a Chinese man in the 1950s meant he wasn’t able to act on it; but as she watched him draw or make things with chopsticks after work, she caught on. She has a clear memory from about three years old of making playdough sculptures for a school competition. As a shy kid, Leung says art often allowed her to communicate—both with others and herself: “Art was my imaginary world that helped me disappear from my reality.”

Chiochun Leung in her studio. Photography courtesy of the artist.

With time, Leung had her hands in various mediums, and eventually chose to pursue metalwork with her education. She felt both a spiritual connection to the trade—she recounts visits to Chinese monasteries in her late teens that inspired a “fascination with ceremonial objects”—and believed it was a function that had to be learned, from welding and forging to raising a bowl. She believed that painting, on the other hand, would come from her. And it did.

Leung had always been a doodler, oftentimes depicting the heads of three Chinese girls in her work. Once, a friend asked why she stopped drawing at the characters’ heads: “He said, ‘why don’t you just carry on drawing the bodies?,’ and I began to feel that self-restriction telling me a story. I realized what was covered was a story of all the emotion that I had kept in.”

Chiochun Leung, Subconscious. Conscious., 2019. Photograohy courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art.

In the years that followed her friend’s prompt, Leung began to visually communicate with herself, drawing more and more Chinese figures as she reconciled memory and healing. “When I was drawing,” she shares, “I was remembering how I felt as a child.” At around age six, Leung has a memory of being sexually abused, and because she never approaches a painting with an intention, she shares how the story of her past began to reveal itself to her, thus fueling her journey as a survivor. Today, Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. opens Leung’s solo show, “The Watchful Eyes,” which amalgamates previous work from her journey with The Young Girl Project and otherwise.

Chiochun Leung, The Watchful Eyes, 2021. Photography courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art.

As she has begun to exhibit these paintings, Leung has witnessed how her work catalyzes dialogue around childhood sexual abuse. “These young kids are so open when they see the work,” Leung says. She shares that children will point out certain parts of her work—a girl hiding, a depiction of self harm, hands up to cover a child’s face—and ask what they mean. “I’ll say, ‘Well, she’s upset because somebody touched her vagina,’ or another graphic action phrased in a way that is most accessible to children.” Consequently, Leung’s paintings have become a channel for conversation around consent, allowing parents and their children to have honest dialogue around traumatizing events. Leung’s ability to document her own stories, both subconsciously and more advertently, has become a source of relief and education for many.

This year, Leung has turned her series of paintings and their ensuing discourse into an nonprofit, The Young Girl Project, that strives to destigmatize conversations around the sexual abuse of children. In conversations with survivors, Leung says she observes children feeling understood. In addition to being a resource for help, the organization asks that everyone who sees the project share it with five friends in some capacity. “We’re working to take something that is taboo out of that arena [and] into the mainstream in order to dispel shame,” the artist explains.

Chiochun Leung, Backward. Forward, 2019. Photograohy courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art.

As for why she thinks her work has resonated with survivors, it all comes down to art as an integral method of communication, particularly for children. “Children that have been abused don’t have the words to express it sometimes,” she shares. Almost accidentally, Leung has mimicked the work of therapists and community workers who are identifying cases of sexual abuse. “Using art helps [children] discern what has happened to them—by asking them to draw or observing the subject matter of their [existing] drawings,” she says.

Ultimately Leung hopes to create a community that advocates for the most vulnerable facing of sexual abuse. And, in doing so, she wants to teach children to think for themselves. “This is about defying authority—saying no to an adult who’s telling you to do something you don’t want to do,” she shares. “It’s all about connecting to your gut and your intuition. If you feel something isn’t right or wrong, trust that and act upon it.”

Available Artwork by CHOICHUN LEUNG.