Tag Archives: collage art

Tune in to LISA MYERS BULMASH’s Visiting Artist Lecture at The North Seattle College of Art on Monday 10/25 from 12-1pm PDT or 3-4pm EST

15 Oct

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

Available Artwork by LISA MYERS BULMASH

KATHERINE TZU-LAN MANN in Bmore Art by Suzy Kopf

7 Oct

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann Isn’t Apologizing for Beauty Anymore

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann Isn’t Apologizing for Beauty Anymore

Mann’s wall-sized collages and installations rework and play with her own life and history, visually summarizing the collision of her upbringing

Collage can be loosely summarized as the coming together of contrasting elements to make a new whole. Bold colors or patterns are pushed up against representational forms to create a world that doesn’t adhere to the laws of gravity or perspective. We recognize this in the 100-year-old canvases of artists like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris (who currently has a show up at the Baltimore Museum of Art). Perhaps because of these origins of collage, it’s especially notable when a contemporary artist combines elements of themselves in their work, not just material from the world around them. 

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann’s wall-sized collages and installations rework and play with her own life and history, visually summarizing the collision of her upbringing. Moving every two or three years through Asia, the US, and the Middle East as the daughter of an American foreign service officer father and a Taiwanese mother, homemaker, teacher, and graphic designer, Mann first dabbled with traditional Sumi-e ink techniques as a teen but didn’t learn to speak Chinese until college.

In her work, Mann simultaneously combines Eastern and Western influences, using extremely old mediums such as Sumi-e ink, invented in the first century AD in China, and contemporary ones such as Yupo paper, a plastic paper that is popular with water media artists because it repels water instead of absorbing it, allowing ethereal shapes that recall their watery origins to dry slowly.

Installation view of Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann: Water Ribbon at Morton Fine Art

In her practice, Mann creates space for herself to exist as a biracial person, something she says is a “lifelong struggle and burden” of constantly feeling out of place. The traditional Asian painting traditions are not fully hers, she feels, and neither is the thorny history of Western landscape painting, which is inherently tied to imperialism and colonialism. In her studio in the DC studio complex STABLE, Mann has both a well-worn Thomas Moran book and a similarly battered book of the Buddhist Mogao caves at Dunhuang, China, within arm’s reach. A self-identified landscape painter, she draws upon both histories of painting place, relating to her ancestors, who she describes being “destroyed by colonialism,” and the undeniable beauty of the work of the Hudson River School, problematic as they are.

I first saw a solo show of Mann’s work at Goucher College in 2015, and over the six years I’ve been admiring it since, it has become more chaotic, more layered, and, as Mann sees it, “more fragmented.” The pandemic caused great personal loss for the artist: Two of her grandparents passed away, one from COVID-19 and one most likely from pandemic-induced confinement. But it has also caused her to rethink the way she works. She also connects the start of these internal shifts to parenthood (she is the mother of 4-year-old Mae and 6-year-old Calvin), which has caused her to grow more accustomed to taking risks in her art and being less rigid. 

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Arch 2 (diptych), 2018, acrylic, sumi ink, silkscreen, and monoprint on paper, 60 x 120 inches
Installation view of Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann: Water Ribbon at Morton Fine Art

Many of the works in her current solo show, Water Ribbon, at DC’s Morton Fine Art (up until October 6), are a record of the last eighteen months, when Mann took care of her children during the day and worked for long chunks of the night in her studio. “I’m going to look back at the pandemic as this time of immense grief and loss,” she says. “But also, I’m going to look back at it as a time where I became much more connected to my kids.”

Before having children, Mann was a regular on the DMV college-adjunct circuit. Since having her son and daughter—and especially since the pandemic forced her to become a “preschool student” of immersion Mandarin (to support her daughter’s education, she says, laughing)—she and her partner have worked out a system where they split childcare and Mann is a full-time artist. Her ability to support herself with art sales and commissions speaks to her talent, but moreover, it is evidence of her work ethic. 

Coming out of MICA’s Hoffberger MFA program in 2009, she knew that there were not going to be galleries knocking down her door to work with her. Instead, she focused on open calls and began what has become a constant practice of sending out applications. The results have basically been a snowball of opportunities over the last twelve years.

“I applied to the Hamiltonian fellowship after grad school and when I got that they brought my work to art fairs,” she says. “A gallery saw a painting at an art fair and picked me up after I was finished with the fellowship. I was lucky that happened, but I did apply to it to begin with.” She also got good at accepting rejection and moving on. 

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Crust, Mantle, Core, 2021, acrylic and collage on paper, 60 x 60 inches
Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Ley, 2020, acrylic, sumi ink, and collage on paper, 45 x 55 inches

This is not to imply Mann’s career has been without its professional challenges—she began to pursue public commissions because of a bad business deal. When she was pregnant with her son six years ago, she had gallery representation in New York, London, Los Angeles, and Toronto—an enormous professional milestone for many. And then, seemingly without warning, all but the Toronto gallery went out of business, one going bankrupt while owing Mann a substantial amount of money for works that had been sold. “It felt like, oh, you achieved this goal that you’re supposed to have in the art world. And then you ended up worse for it,” Mann says. “It felt like this lack of independence, a lack of freedom on my part to have control over my own destiny because all of these other people were players.”

But Mann isn’t dwelling in the past, and is instead focusing on ways to evolve her studio work alongside the large-scale commissions. For the works in her show at Morton Fine Art, “there was more bold cutting into forms and it’s a little bit more aggressive,” she says. “Whereas before, I was thinking about building these bodies and having these additions onto the bodies.”

Weathering this season of loss, Mann sees a “subtractive element” in her work where there had previously been additions, focusing more on “sharply cutting into forms to take things away and confuse the negative space more. What is negative space is not as apparent now as it was.” Where earlier collages focused on contrast, in the new works made in 2020, collage is becoming camouflage.

A single completed painting contains many “failed paintings,” Mann says, which have been recycled and pasted into new works, creating an overall “hybridity” that she is seeking. She works on paper, first laying it down on the floor and pouring ink onto it, and then pinning it to the wall so she can paint and collage in an immediate manner, responding to previous marks and allowing her plans to change as the work develops. 

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Dunhuang 1, 2016, acrylic and sumi ink on paper, 60 x 84 inches

Contrary to the traditional emphasis on sketching in art school, Mann doesn’t create sketches first unless working on a commission for a client. Her process-oriented works begin with an ink pouring, which “provides the rest of the direction of the future of the painting.” The resulting works are layered and confusing to behold because they seem to move constantly between flat and textural areas, a phenomenon that Mann recognizes from her training in traditional Chinese landscape painting, which also emphasizes shifting perspective. Sumi-e painting can be thought of as a kind of meditation that follows an extremely specific order of brush strokes to create such classical natural subjects as bamboo, cherry blossoms, and mountains. The repetition of subject matter and method has found its way into Mann’s work; botanical and decorative themes such as flowers and undulating bows have been motifs since the artist’s graduate school days. Over time, she feels that these symbols “take on a new form, new meaning, or become kind of diffused in their original meaning.” And for this reason, she returns to them, playing with how to make them over again.

Like most of us, it seems Mann is entering the next phase of the pandemic with a new acceptance of herself and her work. She no longer tries to explain away the inherently pleasant nature of much of the patterns, colors, and compositions of her work. “I originally felt like it was a flaw in the work that it was beautiful and therefore not serious,” she says. “I’ve come to not apologize for that.” 

She believes that the concept of beauty as trivial comes from the male and Western tradition of Abstract Expressionism, which she butted up against with Grace Hartigan, then-director of Hoffberger, in her first year of graduate school. Mann recalls Hartigan telling her that “pattern tickles the eye but does not touch the soul,” which was hard for her to move past. Mann began purposefully working with symbols of beauty to address this critique and in “acknowledgment of beauty and girlhood,” she explains. After the pandemic, it’s hard to really see the pursuit of pleasure as a problem.

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Water Ribbon, 2021, acrylic and sumi ink on paper, 90 x 60 inches

*****

Featured image: Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Understory, 2021, acrylic, collage, and sumi ink on paper, 56 x 56 inches

Installation view of Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann: Water Ribbon at Morton Fine Art
Installation view of Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann: Water Ribbon at Morton Fine Art

All images courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art. Installation views by Jarrett Hendrix

Available artwork by KATHERINE TZU-LAN MANN

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)

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

LISA MYERS BULMASH “The Home Inside My Head” reviewed in The Washington Post

27 Dec

Congratulations to LISA MYERS BULMASH for the rich review of her solo exhibition “The Home Inside My Head” in today’s print edition of The Washington Post by Mark Jenkins. (Arts & Style Section 12/27/20)

Lisa Myers Bulmash

Also spurred by pandemic-era exile from everyday life, Lisa Myers Bulmash conceived a Morton Fine Art show “The Home Inside My Head”. The Seattle artist combines found and personal objects into 3-D collages that conjure both African American history and her family’s own story. The pieces juggle the antiquarian and the immediate to express what Bulmash’s statement calls “a Black and female viewpoint”.

One series, “Rare & Exquisite,” places oversize models of endangered butterflies atop maps of regions of the United States collaged from Colonial-era (and thus not entirely reliable) charts. The effect is to correlate the threatened species — affixed with heavy railroad spikes that evoke hard labor –with Black people whose place in this country has always been at risk.

Examples of another antique tool, the wooden washboard, serve as frames in the “Bought and Paid For” series. The washboards hold books and ovals made of twine, which enclose overlapping transparencies of family photos. The pictures depict various old structures, including houses, and children at play. Again, Bulmash contrasts rough materials with fragile beings.

It seems apt that another piece is based on a torn piece of old sheet music repaired by kintsugi, the Japanese technique of using gold to both accentuate and exalt the cracks in a broken vessel. Bulmash’s assemblages can be seen as a bid to mend history.

Click HERE to read the review in full.

On view by appointment at Morton Fine Art through January 6th, 2021. Located at 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001.

(202) 628-2787 (text or call)

info@mortonfineart.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

Available Artwork by LISA MYERS BULMASH

Virtual exhibition and artist narration of LISA MYERS BULMASH’s solo exhibition “The Home Inside My Head” at Morton Fine Art

24 Nov

Virtual tour and artist narration of LISA MYERS BULMASH’s first east coast solo exhibition, “The Home Inside My Head” at Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC.

Video credit: Jarrett Hendrix

Contact the gallery for private viewing by appointment, price list and acquisition. (202) 628-2787 (text or call) info@mortonfineart.com http://www.mortonfineart.com

“For most of this year, we’ve had to make a home inside our heads — because a virus was blocking the way out to “normal” life. That was fine by me at first: home is my castle and retreat. But there’s no vacation from yourself, or the deepest fears for your children’s future. Even a rich interior life becomes over-stuffed with emotions, memories and uncomfortable truths. The works in “The Home Inside My Head” reflect this ambivalence. The “Bought and Paid For” series was born from the love and deep gratitude for my ancestors’ struggles to give me greater opportunities. But even during my sheltered childhood, I recognized not every house feels like home as I experienced it. Not every parent prepares their child for ugly realities like institutional racism. As a 21st century Black woman, I need to make work that explores my disillusionments as well as my hopes for America. Collages like “One Nation, Under Reconstruction” are my attempts to name these experiences as truthfully as I can. I center a Black and female viewpoint in my work, as examples of a specific story illuminating the general human condition. But there’s something else. We can’t continue to tell each other the same stories featuring the same old heroes. Those icons accomplished amazing things everywhere but at home. We need to imagine our next home before we can live in it: this is the place where we build new narratives.” – LISA MYERS BULMASH, 2020

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s series “Place of Breath and Birth” on view with TAFETA at 1-54

13 Sep

Video of AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s latest series “Place of Breath and Birth

Amber Robles-Gordon

Amber’s artwork is based on her personal narrative and the intersections of womanhood, patriarchy, hybridism, and Americanism.

Her intention is to further contextualize her narrative and artwork within the political, socioeconomic, and environmental threads that define, control, alienate and/or mistreat Puerto Ricans and Afro-Puerto Ricans in particular.

Place of Breath and Birth

A foundational symbology of this body of work is the Fiscus Elastica commonly known as the Rubber Tree, Rubber Fig or Rubber Plant.

The second most important symbolic layer of the work are the depictions and interpretations of the transitions of day to night and night to day.

“Throughout some of the artworks, I am a figure, a witness to the beauty and complexity of the Puerto Rican landscape”

“Ultimately, I hope this narrative and artwork gives voice to others who walk in brownness—who breathe within a female form, and/or who do not quite fit the norms…yet are Bold and Proud.”

Amber Robles-Gordon’s artwork will be presented by TAFETA at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in October 2020.

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Introducing Morton Fine Art’s new artist LISA MYERS BULMASH

1 Sep

Get to know the wall mounted sculpture creations of MFA’s newest artist partner, Seattle based LISA MYERS BULMASH, and her “Bought and Paid For” series.

“This triptych of altered books is mounted on antique washboards, exploring the American Dream as filtered through a Black and female lens. The series centers on the heart of that complicated dream: owning a home of one’s own.

A repeating image in the center niche unites the three books: a family photo of the artist’s brother, running into their childhood home. This image is layered over other buildings significant in the African American experience. The first shows a slave auction “house”; the second shows the childhood home of the artist’s mother; the third depicts the artist’s first home in the Northwest.”

Featured here “Bought and Paid For 1 (triptych)”, 24″x40″, altered books mounted on antique washboards. Scroll for details. Contact Morton Fine Art for additional information on Lisa Myers Bulmash and her powerful sculptural creations.
Lisa Myers Bulmash, Bought and Paid For #1 (triptych), 2020, 24″x40″, altered books mounted on antique washboards
(Detail)
Sculpture 1 of 3
Sculpture 2 of 3
Sculpture 3 of 3
Contact the gallery for additional information about LISA MYERS BULMASH.
Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787 (call or text)
mortonfineart@gmail.com