Tag Archives: African American Contemporary Artists

NATE LEWIS “Biological Tapestries” reviewed in Washington City Paper

19 Apr

 

washington city paper

“Biological Tapestries” Through April 27 at Morton Fine Art Artist Nate Lewis’ first solo exhibition cuts deep.

“Cloaked in Fratres Forever,” by Nate Lewis (2016)

Nate Lewis didn’t train to be an artist. Instead, he went into nursing, just like his father.

It wasn’t until his final year of school that Lewis became interested in art—first music, then drawing—as a way to disengage from the stress of the medical profession. For the better part of the last decade, Lewis has been honing his artistic practice while working in high-stakes, emotionally draining intensive care units. He currently works as a registered nurse in the recovery area of the critical care ward at George Washington University Hospital.

His first solo show, “Biological Tapestries,” now on view at Morton Fine Art, features 16 papercut works that blend Lewis’ interest in human healing with artistic expression. “Biological Tapestries” is an outgrowth of the trauma and redemption he’s experienced in his work environment. The works are compositionally minimal, even austere—mostly portraits that are simple and straight on, printed on porous paper in stark black and white. Lewis then sculpts the paper by snipping, slicing, and perforating the silhouette of the bodies to create three-dimensional figures that emerge from the canvas.

Lewis’ medical training and saint-like patience from years of caretaking are apparent in his practice. The paper-cutting process is laborious and detailed; it often takes him up to 38 hours to complete larger works (the biggest piece in the show is only 40 inches by 26 inches). The surgical precision that Lewis employs is, for all intents and purposes, as necessary to the integrity of these bodies as it would be in a real operation—one false knife swipe and an appendage might be lost. The stakes, naturally, are lower when it comes to paper.

Not every paper sculpture depicts a body in its entirety, to various effect. Some of the works come across as a memorial in nature, such as “Save Me This Time,” which features a torso with arms folded across its chest, as if laid to rest, unable to be physically saved. Others are slightly macabre, even if not intended to be so, by focusing on one specific body part—like a singular arm, no body in sight.

None of the all-male figures in the portraits are named, although Lewis’ artist’s statement suggests that they represent the patients and family members he interacts with in the hospital. The delicately layered slashes and densely patterned pinpricks that make up the artist’s paper patients impart a material fragility, as if one more incision could do them in, leaving nothing but shredded paper behind.

Like the injured and ill he cares for day in and day out, Lewis renders himself similarly vulnerable within the series. For instance, “Glio” features a forward-facing portrait of the artist, his face increasingly obscured by leaf-like snips that continue multiplying beyond his head, across the blank space of the page. The title seems to recall a clinical case Lewis perhaps encountered on the job—a quick search for “glio” reveals that a glioblastoma is a fast-growing brain tumor.

By reimagining and embodying the maladies of his patients, “Biological Tapestries” seems like an act of extreme empathy on Lewis’ part. Yet his self-portraits are also redolent of martyrdom. Lewis must methodically puncture, cut, and slice his own body until his features are nearly indiscernible. His process is almost a form of conceptual self-immolation in service of those he cannot help.

But for all of its painstaking craftsmanship and empathic ideals, “Biological Tapestries” lacks the tenderness of real vulnerability and pain. Despite being a series wrought from reflection on moments of intense mortal reckoning and human compassion, there is a certain amount of clinical detachment. The figures—both whole and partial—remain upright and static, their bodies on display like a teaching cadaver. They are beautiful in their design, but ultimately interchangeable.

1781 Florida Ave. NW. Free. (202) 628-2787. mortonfineart.com.

Click HERE to view available artwork by NATE LEWIS.

NATE LEWIS featured in DCist

14 Apr

dcist

From Operating Table to Canvas, Nate Lewis Finds Intricate Art

Thirty-year-old Nate Lewis never so much as doodled in the margins of a notebook for the first 20 years of his life. He grew up wanting to be a nurse like his father, so he got a nursing degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2009. Art really wasn’t on his radar.

Towards the end of college, his classes started to wear him out, so he distracted himself during lectures by sketching. His older sister Leah, 32, peeked over his shoulder one day and complimented the work. The following Christmas, she got him some art supplies and a book: Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

From those humble beginnings, Lewis has come a long way. He’s opening his first solo exhibition this Friday at Morton Fine Art, a collection of 14 intricately crafted paper sculptures that present the human anatomy in a variety of forms.

Lewis hails from the small town of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania—population: 9000—where his main pastimes included listening to music and playing baseball and basketball. “I was essentially a jock growing up,” he says.

Nursing appealed to him first as a venue in which he could study science and the human body. Only gradually did he realize that being a nurse meant taking intimate care of people at their most fragile and vulnerable. That scared him at first, but when he embraced the role, he found it fulfilling.

“When you walk into the room at 7 a.m. to take care of these patients, the families just open up with everything to you. You become part of this critical time in their family history,” Lewis says. “You have an intimate relationship and trust with these family members.”

After going through school, he took up work at several critical care facilities, including a surgical intensive care unit and a stroke unit. At that time, his main artistic interests were in music. He took a violin class because his mother was using one at the same time.

“I think that was my art more than anything, just listening to it. I wanted to play,” Lewis says. “I loved the strings, I just loved the violin and I just loved the sound of it.”

Playing put Lewis in the right headspace to start exploring his drawing skills. At first his sister told him to “draw some life”—buildings and other city surroundings. But Lewis quickly found that subject boring.

“Just drawing something to get better at it, I didn’t enjoy it,” Lewis says. “I wanted art to be fun.”

So he followed his muse, drawing increasingly elaborate images pairing an instrument with an organ—a trumpet with a set of lungs coming out, a phonograph made of red blood cells, a pair of brains that doubled as headphones. He brought his sketch pad and pencil to coffee shops near his home, then in Falls Church. It gradually dawned on him that his unconscious mind was simply translating the experiences he was having at work in the hospital, giving shape to the abstract concepts behind the medical procedures he witnessed.

The drawings grew into a T-shirt line, followed by some experimentation with a black pen. Then he realized he could use the blade as a pen to make smaller and more layered designs. By January 2014, he had started making full pieces like the ones he’s now displaying, cranking out as many as twelve per month. The largest pieces—26 inches by 40 inches—can take between 26 to 38 hours to create, Lewis said.

Since then, Lewis has been focused on displaying his creations and, as of October 2014, selling them. All the while, he’s maintained a steady paycheck at various hospitals, including George Washington Hospital, where he currently works in the recovery area of the critical care unit. That job is less emotionally taxing than some of his previous ones, he admits.

Among numerous accolades, Lewis won the regional edition of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series contest last year and earned grants from the D.C. Commission of the Arts & Humanities for the last two years running. He’s done shows in Brooklyn and San Francisco, and he placed in the top ten of a contest at the Hamiltonian Gallery on U Street. Through a friend, he sent his work to the Morton Fine Art Gallery in Adams Morgan, which quickly signed him to a contract and supported him at the Art Basel convention in Miami.

Amy Morton, the founder of the gallery, took to Lewis’ style soon after seeing it, according to gallery assistant Julia Bancroft. The mixture of texture and simplicity, as well as Lewis’ local placement, make him a good fit for the gallery’s roster, Bancroft says.

“He’s just hitting it off in the city and gaining some recognition,” Bancroft says. “We’re just really happy to support him.”

Looking ahead, Lewis hopes to slowly make a foray into photography. Eventually, he could see his artistic career dominating his professional life full-time. But he’s in no rush to abandon his medical career.

“It’s scary to think about going from a regular consistent paycheck to relying on selling things that people don’t need. But you’ve got to take a leap when it’s time,” Lewis said. “I’m in no hurry.”

Art serves a meditative role for Lewis, but he’s more concerned with communicating indescribable experiences to the widest possible audience.

“Art has done a lot for me and it’s showed me a lot of things about myself and about others,” Lewis said. “And it’s something that I just need to continue to cultivate.”

Lewis’ exhibition will open with a reception at 6 p.m. tomorrow and run until April 27 at Morton Fine Art (1781 Florida Ave NW). The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.

Click HERE to view available artworks by NATE LEWIS.

NATE LEWIS solo “Biological Tapestries – 1st Movement” opens 4/8/16 at Morton Fine Art

29 Mar
Biological Tapestries – 1st Movement
Sculpted Paper Photo Prints by NATE LEWIS
Friday, April 8th – April 27th, 2016

OPENING DAY RECEPTION 
Friday, April 8th, 6pm-8pm
The artist will be in attendance.
cloaked in fratres forever grateful web

NATE LEWIS, Cloaked in Fratres Forever, 2016, 40″x26″, sculpted paper photo print

EXHIBITION LOCATION

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

(202) 628-2787
mortonfineart@gmail.com
HOURS

Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm

Sunday 12pm-5pm

save me this time web

NATE LEWIS, Save Me This Time, 2016, sculpted paper photo print

About NATE LEWIS & Biological Tapestries

“Biological Tapestries is a visual reflection of the competing elements of genetics, the microbiological world, human intervention through medical care, and appeals to the divine which all have a stake in determining the outcome of patients in critical care units.
As a critical care registered nurse I desired to become emotionally porous. I sought for the impersonal experiences of patients and families to become personal and intimate. This resulted in distilling untested qualities of my character and further illuminating areas of my identity.
Through sculpting landscapes of moving textures and patterns on bodies, I attempt to make visible the unseen tensions and competing elements within the bodies that mirror the internal transformations of the patients, the individuals emotionally invested in these patients and myself.
I aim for this work to show the power of freedom within boundaries, and to question to what lengths are we willing to lay aside our pride, comfort, and fear to make room for empathy, within intimate and larger social contexts.” -NATE LEWIS, 2016
 
Nathaniel Lewis grew up in Beaver Falls, near Pittsburgh, Pa. Born 1985, Nate benefited from the cultural mix of his Trinidad-born father who was raised in Brooklyn and his white American-born mother, raised in Philadelphia. He graduated from VCU with his BSN and has been a practicing critical care nurse for the past five years. He planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a certified nurse anesthetist.
In 2013, he started exploring the use of diagnostic electrocardiogram paper in his work, which led him to a more focused study of paper itself. He began sculpting individual sheets of white paper into 2-3d forms. He then started blending his unique approach with paper sculpture to photos. Within the first year and a half of showing his paper sculptures, he has exhibited in Washington DC, New York, Miami, and San Francisco.

Biological Tapestries – 1st Movement marks his first solo. He is represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC.

About Morton Fine Art
Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC, 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 anyone can become an art collector or enthusiast, 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.

 

Video trailer for CHARLES WILLIAMS upcoming exhibition at Central Piedmont Community College

4 Mar

Enjoy this trailer for CHARLES WILLIAMS upcoming solo exhibition at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC

 

 

Click here to view available artwork by CHARLES WILLIAMS.

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

(202) 628-2787

mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

Artwork in KESHA BRUCE’s “Magic Spells & Reminders”

1 Mar

Don’t miss KESHA BRUCE’s solo exhibition “Magic Spells & Reminders”. On view at Morton Fine Art through March 17, 2016.

 

EXHIBITION LOCATION

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

HOURS

Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm

 

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About Magic Spells & Reminders

Magical-Spiritual belief is at the root of every artwork I create.  “Magic Spells & Reminders” began as a series of reoccurring shapes which appeared within my daily drawings.  These shapes soon solidified and grew into a set of symbols that I began to think of as a personal, magical alphabet.
Influenced by the dry heat and jagged, volcanic peaks of the Superstition Mountains, over the last 6 months I have created a spiritual lexicon inspired by endless sunlight and expansive blue sky of my new home in the Sonoran desert. Unlike my past work, these new works aren’t necessarily narrative in nature, rather they are intended to act as catalysts and reminders to bring about change.
The symbols themselves do not have fixed meanings. In fact, individual symbols may have several meanings, determined primarily by their placement within the painting and their juxtaposition to adjacent symbols. Just as many spiritual paths regard “speaking in tongues” as being a private language between a believer and The Divine, I regard the symbols I’ve created as a subconscious, visual vocabulary that represents spiritual concepts and ideas that range from the concrete to the ethereal and intangible.
The paintings I’ve created for “Magic Spells & Reminders” are meant to act as visual reminders of both spiritual and creative intent, tools or reflection and healing, statements of personal power, and in some cases a call to arms.
-KESHA BRUCE, 2016
 
Magic Spells & Reminders marks KESHA BRUCE‘s 5th solo exhibition at Morton Fine Art.
Morton Fine Art
1781 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 628-2787
mortonfineart@gmail.com

MAYA FREELON ASANTE’s amazing artwork featured in Fine Art Focus on Design Sponge

12 Jan

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FINE ART FOCUS: MAYA FREELON ASANTE

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Over the past 12 years of blogging here at Design*Sponge, I’ve read and written about thousands of artists and designers. A small handful will always stand out to me for their innovation and bold choices in color and technique, but few have made a mark as powerful as mixed-media artist,Maya Freelon Asante.

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Maya is based in Baltimore, MD where she creates absolutely breathtaking installations using tissue paper. After talking last week about the way tissue paper can be used to create things like paper flowers, I love seeing how such a beautiful but humble material can be transformed into something as significant and moving as these pieces that Maya crafts. Back in 2005, Maya discovered a stack of tissue paper in her grandmother’s basement. Water in the basement had leaked into the paper and left a “bleeding” stain that so transfixed Maya that she decided to change her artistic focus to create work with this type of paper. Maya’s work has been shown internationally and is now displayed in the collections of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum and the U.S. State Department. Read on below to learn more about her gorgeous artwork. xo, grace

Artist: Maya Freelon Asante
About: Maya lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her BA from Lafayette College and her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Work: Maya is a mixed-media artist who makes stunning, abstract sculptures and installations from tissue paper. Her work was described as, “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being,” by Maya Angelou.
More: You can read more about Maya’s work here, here, here, here andhere.

All artwork (c) Maya Freelon Asante. Images via maya-freelonasante.squarespace.com. Portrait by Greg Powers.

Hand+Made

  1. These images are stunning! I’m smitten with the green piece, and I bet they’re even lovelier in person. And always love seeing artists from my hometown!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous art. It looks like it has so much depth. These would be the perfect starting point for any room design!

    Click HERE to view the article in full.

     

    Contact Morton Fine Art for details and pricing for these featured artworks and others by MAYA FREELON ASANTE.

    http://www.mortonfineart.com, mortonfineart@gmail.com , (202) 628-2787

STEPHON SENEGAL featured in the April/May 2014 edition of Uptown Magazine

8 May

 

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ART

Stephon Senegal
Washington, DC

Stephon Senegal creates personal diaries through sculpture. By putting himself on display, he creates bold and beautiful pieces revealing the oftentimes tumultuous ebb and flow of the human condition. As a Louisiana youth, he would make his own toys out of popsicle sticks and black electrical tape, but has since graduated to bronze and other metals because they help present the body as a metaphor for life. “The work is a deconstruction and rebuilding of the self and the things that go with it in terms of vice, obsession and sexuality,” says Senegal. “An individual really can’t access who they are completely until they are tested both physically and mentally in regards to the ability to deal with what life may throw at them”.

Visit http://www.mortonfineart.com to view available sculptures and drawings by STEPHON SENEGAL.