Tag Archives: DC gallery

Artnet Interview | Amy Morton of Morton Fine Art

5 Dec
Gallery Network

7 Questions for Washington, D.C. Gallerist Amy Morton on the Capital Art Scene’s International Flavor

Morton Fine Art has championed diverse artistic voices for over a decade.

Artnet Gallery Network, December 2, 2022

Gallerist Amy Morton, owner of Morton Fine Art, Washington, DC. Courtesy of Amy Morton. Photo: Jarrett Hendrix.
Gallerist Amy Morton, owner of Morton Fine Art, Washington, DC. Courtesy of Amy Morton. Photo: Jarrett Hendrix.

Gallerist and curator Amy Morton is the founder and owner of Morton Fine Art, a stalwart fixture of the Washington, D.C., art scene. Recognized for its diverse roster of national and international artists, Morton Fine Art—and by extension, Morton herself—has developed a reputation for its thought-provoking exhibition program, and a specific emphasis on art and artists of the African and Global Diaspora. Morton Fine Art has also shown a strong commitment to exhibiting female artists, and the gallery’s current presentation is a solo show of work by Katherine Hattam, which is on view through December 20, 2022.

Morton has cultivated strong relationships both with the artists she represents (refusing hierarchy and referring to them as her partners) and collectors, for whom she strives to craft an accessible and educational experience. The result has been Morton Fine Art’s ability to consistently place museum-quality contemporary art in both private and public collections for over a decade.

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We recently spoke with Morton to talk about establishing her gallery, the current exhibition, and what’s to come in 2023.

You founded Morton Fine Art in 2010. Can you tell us about your background and what led you to open the gallery? What first drew your interest to the arts?

I come from a line of under-recognized female artists on both sides of my family. My parents, although divorced, both exposed my sister and I to performing arts, music, and other cultural mediums when we were children. The occasional trip to view a museum exhibition was always a big deal in our household. My mom and I used to create drawings together at the kitchen table—what I always considered a continuing story between mother and daughter. All that noted, I didn’t know I was destined for a career in the arts until high school: I walked into an art history class and was changed. I took my first gallery job when I was 17. By the time I graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles at 21, I had interned and worked at auction houses on both coasts, at art galleries local and national, and for a renowned New England artist association. Oddly, at that juncture, I had not yet found my niche in the art world, and it finally felt right when I opened my own gallery in 2010. With Morton Fine Art, I could amplify original artistic voices that I feel are simultaneously timeless and timely, substantive and layered.

Since the opening of the gallery, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned? Do you have any advice for young gallerists just starting out?

I’ve learned many lessons and believe I will continue to for the foreseeable future. Agility has been my best posture, and I would advise young gallerists to consider the same. There is still space to do things differently, and it is important not to get lost comparing or measuring yourself against other galleries or business models.

What are some of your guiding principles as a gallerist? How is this reflected in the artists you represent and exhibitions you show?

I often joke that I am allergic to hierarchy. I believe that empowerment through education and a comfortable environment are wonderful tools of connection and understanding. Visual art is a natural way to advance conversations and ideas, and I strive to provide a gallery environment that sometimes feels more like a salon—a place that supports exploration, emotional honesty, and growth, and doesn’t enhance insecurity. My artist partners are technically masterful in their respective mediums and integrate lasting conceptual and philosophical elements that activate the imagination. Washington, D.C., is an international city, and it follows that my gallery’s programming spans many global conversations, including social justice, environmental justice, reconciliation, and personal themes.

The art world has undergone a number of transformations since 2010. Have you noticed any trends or have any predictions, good or bad, that you find particularly interesting or significant?

It will continue to be an interesting time ahead. As a Washington, D.C.-based gallery, our pulse is always intertwined with politics—local, national, and international—and therefore the art created here is remarkably relevant. I love this aspect of the city, as there is always more to learn and contend with. Increased collector confidence in online browsing and acquisitions has also been an asset for us “secondary city” gallerists. While not a global trend yet, I have long wished for a more energized focus and interest in Washington, D.C.’s art community and all we offer.

Katherine Hattam, The Great American Novel (2022). Courtesy of Morton Fine Art and the artist.

Katherine Hattam, The Great American Novel (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art.

Morton Fine Art is currently showing “Katherine Hattam: Strange Country, Strange Times,” which is on view through December 20, 2022. Can you tell us about the show?

Katherine Hattam is a well-established Australian artist having her first U.S. solo here at Morton Fine Art. We have worked together for over a decade, so it is a great honor to share so much of her incredible artwork in one exhibition.

As an artist, Hattam incorporates literary and art-historical elements in her work, focusing on materialist explorations of ultimately psychic space. Her practice is a lifelong investigation into domestic interiors: brightly shaded walls and windows, collaged book spines, and iconographic depictions of native Australian flora and fauna make up much of Hattam’s focus. Acknowledging a centuries-long preoccupation with domestic space as both the imaginative site and societal bounds of female artistic production, Hattam’s totemic kitchen tables and charged dining room chairs recur as motifs, doubly imbued as locations of domestic labor and sites of longing.

For the current exhibition, Hattam has also included several spectacular prints—some of them jigsaw woodblock prints—that she created from 2000 to 2021.

Katherine Hattam, A Strange Country (2022). Courtesy of Morton Fine Art and the artist.

Katherine Hattam, A Strange Country (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art.

With New Year’s just around the corner, what are you looking forward to in 2023? Are there any forthcoming exhibitions or other gallery plans that you can share?

2023 is going to be another great year! Morton Fine Art will have solo exhibitions with Jenny Wu (born in China; lives and works in Hartford), Vonn Cummings Sumner (born in San Francisco; based in Los Angeles), Meron Engida (born in Ethiopia; based in Washington, D.C.), Andrei Petrov (born and based in New York), Maliza Kiasuwa (born in Bucharest of European and African descent; lives and works in Nairobi), Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann (Washington, D.C.-based), Amber Robles-Gordon (born in Puerto Rico; based in Washington, D.C.), Hannelie Coetzee (born in South Africa; based in Johannesburg), Hiromitsu Kuroo (born in Japan; lives and works in Iruma, Japan) and Prina Shah (born in Kenya; lives and works in Nairobi), as well as a group exhibition focusing on the medium of collage.

If you were not a gallerist, what would you be doing?

Excellent question and one that I have entertained a few brief times in my career. Nothing else ever screamed out at me, so I would guess a preschool/elementary school educator, or advocate for a niche of sustainable living.

Learn more about Morton Fine Art’s exhibition program here.
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http://www.mortonfineart.com

Natalie Cheung | Alternative Process Photography | Video of her solo exhibition “Made of Light” at Morton Fine Art

2 Nov

Video credit: Jarrett Hendrix

Morton Fine Art is pleased to announce Made of Light, a solo exhibition of alternative process photography and sculpture by the artist Natalie Cheung. Utilizing time, gesture and much technical expertise, the artist captures lived experience directly onto the surface of her photosensitive paper and microplastic sculptures. Cheung’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, Made of Light will be on view from October 15 to November 12, 2022.

A formally-trained photographer, D.C.-based artist Natalie Cheung no longer owns a camera. Having studied film photography during the advent of the medium’s “digital revolution,” Cheung’s education was heavily centered on the influences of light, duration and the chemistry of making a photographic print. As traditional photography began to increasingly rely on the pixel, Cheung continued to explore these elements in the darkroom without the aid of film images. What resulted was a microhistory of artistic development, her dive into abstraction mirroring the revolt against mimesis undertaken by painters in the late 19th century – ironically, in response to photography’s initial ascent at that time.

Appropriately, then, Cheung’s experimental photography takes on a playful relationship with art history itself. In the artist’s “Facsimile” series, Cheung intuitively plays with light, chemical emulsion and photographic paper to create colors and shapes that pay homage to art history’s previous regimes. From the nautical wash of a Turner landscape to the relaxed staining of Helen Frankenthaler’s abstractions, Cheung’s free-associative style inclusively riffs on prior forms, indebted to her realization that no shape or configuration can ever be truly original. The humility of homage in Cheung’s work is balanced in turn by her technical mastery; her developmental ingenuity is so acute that she is able to translate impulse, memory and reference onto photosensitive paper with the subtlest of gestures. With this process itself having become second nature, Cheung’s predilections as an artist and preoccupations as a citizen are able to make their way transparently into her work.

In the artist’s “Intermediaries” series, Cheung uses slow-reacting cyanotype to create abstract works that seem to map islands, river deltas or erosion itself. In a process that can take up to several days, the artist allows her chemistry to evaporate naturally, in a manner indicative of the slow creep of time and loss of water that defines humanity’s relationship with climate catastrophe. Taking up the same process as was historically used to make blueprints, Cheung’s Intermediary works are like designs for a future of ceded control, capturing the chaos of durations we are not accustomed to monitoring.

Concern for the climate also comes out in the artist’s “Reclaim” sculptures – topographic models of islands constructed from nylon flocking, a non-recyclable form of compressed microplastic. Inspired by man-made landmasses such as Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah or even the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Cheung’s works hang in lucite display cases like real estate offerings: a scathing reminder that no man is an island.

Born in Virginia to a first-generation Chinese family, a formative artistic influence for Cheung was her mother’s practice of intricate chuāng huā papercuts, made on sheets of printer paper in honor of the Lunar New Year. Incorporating another form of alternative process photography, Cheung’s “Rock. Paper. Scissors.” series places these designs against a darkroom projector, blowing them up to monumental reliefs captured on photographic sheets. The resulting works carry the grandiosity and simplicity of Barnett Newman’s abstractions, though they are weighted with the significance of Cheung’s history and heritage. Open to the element of chance as she lets light slip in between the slivers of these shapes, such works are a synthesis of the artist’s great themes: balancing inevitability and accident in a delicate dance.

Natalie Cheung (b. Falls Church, Virginia) received her MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and her BFA in Photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally; she has been profiled in Washington Spaces Magazine and has had work represented in numerous collections including the Museum of Fine Art, Houston and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Cheung currently teaches at the George Washington University and has previously taught at the Corcoran College of Art + Design and Temple University, Tyler School of Art. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2014.

Available Artwork by NATALIE CHEUNG

NATALIE CHEUNG | Interlocutor Magazine

29 Oct

INTERLOCUTOR

Oct 25

The darkroom orchestrations of NATALIE CHEUNG

Visual ArtistsMultidisciplinary Artists

Intersections of Light #008, 2022, 30 x 38 in. Color pinhole photograph

Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC, is pleased to announce Made of Light, a solo exhibition of alternative process photography and sculpture by the artist Natalie Cheung. Utilizing time, gesture and much technical expertise, the artist captures lived experience directly onto the surface of her photosensitive paper and microplastic sculptures. Cheung’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, Made of Light will be on view through November 12, 2022.

Interview by Interlocutor Magazine

You’re a formally trained photographer but you no longer own a camera. What was the impetus for you to abandon the processing of images shot with a film camera to a state of pure experimentation with the development process itself?

I started to get away from using a camera when the medium of photography was shifting over to full digital. At that point, I was already burned out from toting a camera everywhere, which prevented me from being in the moment—not to mention the weird looks bystanders would give me if I took a picture of a very compelling stain on the ground.

More importantly, I wanted to get away from taking pictures of stuff and instead wished to capture an experience on paper. Using photography to simply document is like saying Harry Potter is just a regular school kid. There has been so much experimentation in photography since the beginning of the medium. I think of photography as solar alchemy.

Untitled 1, 2021, 42 x 85 in. Silver gelatin chemigram on photo paper, (From “Facsimile” series)

In your “Facsimile” series, you play with light intuitively in a free-associative style that results in “riffs” on prior forms, such as the “nautical wash of a Turner landscape to the relaxed staining of Helen Frankenthaler’s abstractions.” What kind of personal parameters (if any) do you set for determining when one of these works is finished and ready to show?

While composition and tonal range are certainly qualities that attract me to a composition, the idea of my “Facsimile” series is that every outcome I make is, was, or will be, a pattern seen somewhere else in the world—whether created unintentionally in nature or created with intent by the human hand, without ever having seen my work. Think infinite monkey theorem: if you give a monkey a typewriter, infinite time, paper, and ink, eventually the monkey will type lines from Shakespeare. So in this regard, every composition that comes out of my process is important to the concept, regardless of the look.

67 Hours, 2018, 42 x 80 in., Cyanotype photogram on paper, (From “Intermediaries” series)

In your “Intermediaries” series, you use “slow-reacting cyanotype to create abstract works that seem to map islands, river deltas, or erosion itself.” This was also the process originally made to use blueprints. What would you say you’re ultimately commenting on with these works in terms of humanity’s long history of trying to control/tame nature?

You can’t control everything, there’s always a give and take in nature. Humans tend to think that they are omnipotent, but there are always unforeseen consequences to what we do. Think about every time we have introduced a foreign species into an ecosystem in order to solve one problem, but in doing so, created an even bigger one. “Intermediaries” simulate the uncertainty of cause and effect. I set up my artwork and let nature take its course in evaporation, and what I am left with is usually very different from what I thought would be the outcome. And that’s the point.

Model Island 7, 2021, 16 x 16 in. Micro nylon fiber, paper, paint & plaster, (From “Reclaim” series)

Your “Reclaim” sculptures are topographic models of islands constructed from nylon flocking. Could you describe what attracted you to this material and why it’s important to the meaning of the pieces that you construct from it?

I have been attracted to this material since I was a child, as many children have. It’s the same material they use for fuzzy stickers. But also being a microplastic, the flocking is an ideal material to use in artwork about climate change. Microplastic wastewater is a huge problem. That stuff ends up in fish and crops and eventually in the food we eat. And microplastics don’t have to start off as micro—larger plastic items get broken down and crushed into microparticles that go everywhere. I created the “Reclaim” sculptures to be seductive eye candy; people are drawn to the bright color and shiny plastic, as we are programmed to be, namely by our need for water, searching out for it by its shiny glimmers in nature. The sculptures speak to the darker side of our nature in hyper-consumerism and what it’s doing to the environment.

07, 2020. Dimensions and medium variable, (From “Rock. Paper. Scissors.” series)

For your “Rock. Paper. Scissors.” series you are influenced by chuāng huā papercuts, made on sheets of printer paper in honor of the Lunar New Year. You place these designs against a darkroom projector, blowing them up to monumental reliefs captured on photographic sheets. What most appeals to you about the process of enlarging these designs and allowing elements of chance to slip through the shapes?

“Rock. Paper. Scissors.” is everything traditional Chinese paper cutting isn’t, and that’s sort of a reflection of myself. I am American Chinese and, as such, there are expectations from both of those cultural sides and I’m just saying: “No thanks, I’ll find my own way.” The scale of the artworks is large, the shapes are imperfectly cut, but of all my work, R.P.S. is the most intentional artwork I make in terms of the outcome. I carefully lay all my cut shapes onto the photographic paper, but what I can’t predict are all the interactions between the shapes once the light hits the paper. So the outcome does hold an element of surprise for me. Chance is a central theme in all of my artwork, but in the case of R.P.S., it helps illustrate the many unexpected things that happen in our life that ultimately shape our identities.

Intersections of Light #060, 2022, 30 x 38 in. Color pinhole photograph

Since digital has almost entirely taken over the realm of photography, do you view process photography art as a way to maintain the craft of darkroom processing while also transporting it into a medium that both makes it into something new and also pays respect to the long history of film photography?

I have a deep love for the photographic medium. It’s a magic medium that allows people like me (who can’t draw to save my life) a place to be artistic. I think a lot about how photography for me is integrating the process of my darkroom techniques with the concept of my art; it’s not simply the method I chose to print art on. These days, if you print a photograph in the darkroom with traditional subject matter you took with a film camera, there is a certain level of romanticism that is attached to the image, simply because it was created with what is now considered a historical process—and that’s what I’m trying to get away from. The first question I would ask when I see straight photographs printed in the darkroom is: “Why is it important that the photograph was printed in the darkroom?” What I’m trying to get at is thinking beyond photography just as medium; I’m trying to capture its physical experience.

Made of Light will be on view through November 12, 2022 at Morton Fine Art

All images courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Tyler Nesler

Natalie CheungMorton Fine ArtPhotographersPhotographyProcess PhotographySculptureSculptorsExhibitionsSolo ShowsDC Gallery

NATALIE CHEUNG Interviewed | PetaPixel | Camera-Less Photography

26 Oct

Camera-Less Photographer Creates Beautifully Abstract Cyanotypes

 OCT 25, 2022

 SONYA HARRIS

Abstract ocean waves blue and white Cyanotype image
57 Hours, 2022 (detail). Cyanotype photogram on paper. Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

In a unique blending of mediums, the works of artist Natalie Cheung invite viewers into a myriad of captured ‘experiences through time and movement’ set onto the surface of photosensitive paper and microplastic sculptures.

With pictures reminiscent of Rorschach tests, Cheung’s captivating ‘camera-less’ photo series Made Of Light, leaves onlookers beguiled yet intrigued by the artist’s map-like aesthetics.

Cheung’s work is influenced by the natural world, as well as created by light, duration, and the chemistry of making a photographic print. Made of Light manages to adeptly pay homage while utilizing the cyanotype technique.

Cyanotype image blue and white (abstract)

“Cyanotype is the earliest form of photography;[…] it’s the same process from which early architectural blueprints were made.” Cheung continues, “One of the bodies of work featured in Made of Light […] is Intermediaries. In Intermediaries, evaporation is my subject. The mappings contemplate the incremental transformations our planet is facing as climate change progresses. It is predicted that warming temperatures around the world will cause coastal areas to become dramatically wetter and inland regions drier. The title of each work indicates the hours in which water took to evaporate completely, and what remains is a blueprint of evaporation. The titles in hours are an homage to the ticking clock (literal and figuratively) we have on our planet to reduce emissions and stave off the point of no return for climate change.” Cheung says, speaking to PetaPixel

Cyanotype sepia and dark beige and brown
Untitled 1, 2021. Silver gelatin chemigram on photo paper. (From the series Facsimile). Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Cheung hails from a mixed-medium background. At 10 years old, she received an in-box 35mm Minolta film camera from her uncle and fell in love with the discipline then and there. She progressed as an avid film user, favoriting Hasselblad, and Rolleiflex and picking up inspiration from album art from bands such as the Pixies. Particularly, their Doolittle album art.

“The photographs in that album were so textural, rusty, and abandoned. So while other kids in my class were taking pictures of their friends and normal stuff teenagers would take pictures of, I was taking pictures of human teeth in crusty backdrops,” she says.

While studying film photography during the height of the “digital revolution,” and as traditional photography began to gravitate towards pixels, Cheung chose to dabble in the creation of new works in the darkroom without the aid of film images.

Teal and violet image, can see houses in the distance
Intersections of Light #060, 2022. Color pinhole photograph. Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

“When the digital revolution in the photo world took over a few years into my career, I started to think a lot about the essence of the medium: documenting a moment in time with light. I questioned why darkroom photographic processes were still relevant and how I could continue to use them in a contemporary context without my work looking like it was clinging to antiquated romanticism. This is the central idea behind all my work.” Cheung says.

She stuck with the basics, that being Crynotype, and fully committed to a cameraless approach to her images.

“The inspiration for my cameraless photography has shifted over the years. Everybody of work looks very different from the last; even what the artwork is about changes. But the artwork always remains connected by the importance of the process woven into the concept and by the random element of chance that is involved,” She says.

Abstract pink and white cyanotype image with red lines
Intersections of Light #033, 2022. Color pinhole photograph. Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

The conceptualization of her process is almost as abstract as the results of her works. In a controlled environment, Cheung uses slow-reacting cyanotype to yield inky-like images with intriguing shapes, textures, and patterns. While some images resemble a kind of cartography complete with river deltas and signs of erosion, others simply invoke the calm and contemplative, aggressive or panicked ‘mood’ of the artist.

“I think about my process like controlled experiments: there are control elements and there are factors I can play with to create a little chaos. I never know what’s going to happen exactly. Sometimes the artwork is a dud and sometimes it’s wonderful and that is very exciting,” Cheung says.

Sepia colored Abstract image, with lighter and dark blots and waves
Silver gelatin chemigram on photo paper. (From the series Facsimile). Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

The artist allows her mixtures to evaporate naturally, a process that mimics while subtly commenting on the steady passing of time and loss of water that defines humanity’s relationship with the climate crisis. The results are a brilliant merging of mediums, artistry, and social commentary.

“I’m always excited to see the outcome of an artwork. My work is not predictable: you can set everything up, but the image could be a dud…and there are a lot of duds. So when one turns out great, it’s magic. The process is so technical and labor-intensive that anything could go wrong during processing, so I feel super protective about the artwork until it’s dried and stored.”

Natalie Cheung , with long dark brown hair and glasses and polka-dot shirt
Courtesy Natalie Cheung

‘Cameraless photography’ has afforded Cheung an unconventional yet intriguing kind of set-up and work space,

“I don’t use much equipment at all! I use jumbo darkroom trays, chemicals, light, lots of nitrile gloves, and Ilford paper. I keep tagging Ilford in my Instagram posts but have never gotten a nod. I’m sure they are horrified at what I am doing with their product.”

cyanotype image with cloud and water like abstract imagery
57 Hours, 2022. Cyanotype photogram on paper. Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Without the traditional nuances of digital, it’s tempting to view Cheung’s process and setup as a simplistic form of photography, however life in a darkroom consistently has proven challenging at times for the D.C based artist,

“Everything is a challenge! I like to make large artwork and I’m small, so from cutting giant heavy rolls of paper to backbreaking processing & archival washing to figuring out who is going to help me move a 7-foot framed artwork, it’s all challenging in different ways. I use these huge trays in the darkroom and even moving one of those around, I think I did something weird and tweaked my shoulder once. Another time the darkroom suddenly had no water pressure…that was fun, to say the least. At the end of the day, I personally need to make this artwork and it’s well worth all the hurdles…and I move my trays carefully now.”

Feedback for Cheung’s works has both challenged and amused the camera-less photographer,

blue and white abstract and looks like clouds over a big blue ocean
67 Hours, 2018. Cyanotype photogram on paper. (From the series Intermediaries). Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

“If you’re an artist then you know there’s wildly varying feedback. Of course, I love the complimentary stuff, but I value critical, well-thought-out comments the most. Sometimes the most valuable comments come from the most unlikely people. I also secretly enjoy the weird comments like: “This reminds me of the time I spilled laundry detergent” or “I am confused but interested in this”. It’s like reading internet comments. I know it’s wrong to be so entertained, but I am!

Currently, Cheung is focusing on the Made of Light exhibition at Morton Fine Art, and is busy dreaming of future collaborations with artist Marimekko, or at least “a scientist with a powerful microscope.” In the future, she is staying committed to trying different mediums and assessing the fruits of her labors.

“I recently got into large-scale artworks and I’m kind of in love, so I am going to continue exploring scale. I also started making my reclaim (model islands) sculptures, so I want to see where I can go with those. It baffles even me, how after decades of strictly being a photographer, I just sat down and started carving out a sculpture.”

Abstract Cyanotype teal and orange and yellow image
Intersections of Light #008, 2022. Color pinhole photograph. Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

For more from Cheung, make sure to visit her Website and Instagram


Image credits: All photographs courtesy Natalie Cheung

Available Artwork by NATALIE CHEUNG

Morton Fine Art | Washington City Paper

24 Sep

POSTED IN ARTS

The Little Art Galleries That Could and Do

Check out these art exhibitions off the beaten path.

by STEPHANIE RUDIG

SEPTEMBER 22ND, 2022

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There’s no shortage of blockbusters coming to D.C.’s museums and galleries this fall. The Air and Space Museum will reopen on Oct. 14 following an extended construction project. The Rubell Museum DC will have its hotly anticipated opening on Oct. 29, creating a new venue for contemporary art in the city. And selfie snappers are sure to assemble for the last few months of One With Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection and Mexican Geniuses, a new immersive experience featuring the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. These outings are fun and all, but some of the most interesting and unexpected art can be found away from the crowds and tucked into some of D.C.’s coziest spaces.

One of the tiniest of these is Transformer, a gallery whose emphasis on emerging and experimental artists has made it one of the most exciting places in the city for artistic exhibitions and events. In June, Transformer celebrated its 20th anniversary, and it will continue to have special events through the end of the year. Starting Sept. 17, the gallery will open its 19th Annual DC Artist Solo Exhibition, which features Commemorative Strands by Artise Fletcher this season. The D.C.-born and based artist has created textiles, films, and photographs around the topic of Black women’s hair. Many of the works feature hair as a material or storytelling device. In addition to the show, a series of programming invites audience members to consider wider cultural meanings and personal feelings around hair and beauty. Events include a panel and discussion as well as a hands-on activity to make your own commemorative cloth.

The spaces at 52 O Street Studios aren’t just used as studios—Amy Morton has hosted her contemporary art gallery Morton Fine Art there for the past four years. Without a street-level entry, the gallery is open by appointment only, which is great for gallery-goers who want to linger over the work uninterrupted, or interested buyers who want to spend some time with an artist’s work. MFA represents a wide variety of artists from around the world, as well as a good slice who work in the D.C. area. This fall, MFA has two exhibits that capture the best of these worlds. Take Me to the Water features mixed-media works by Kesha Bruce, an artist and activist whose bright works explore artmaking as a form of slowness and self care. Following that, Natalie Cheung’s exhibit Made of Light opens, showcasing her experiments with camera-less photography using light sensitive paper, movement, and stencil techniques.

Entertaining and dinner parties are extremely in style, and perhaps no dinner party will be more stylish than an exhibit of tablescapes at Friends Artspace in Arlington. Mise En Place continues the gallery’s habit of showing functional art and design objects as well as fine art in the garage that curator Margaret Bakke has converted into a miniature gallery. A large table fills most of the space, and all sorts of tableware covers every available centimeter of the surface. There’s place settings of course, but also goblets, candlesticks, mugs, sugar bowls, tureens, pitchers, vases, butter dishes, floral arrangements, chandeliers, and more. The exhibition’s announcement proclaims, “people come and go but glassware is basically forever.” Local artists and designers including Hadiya WilliamsCatherine Satterlee, and Dannia Hakki are among those who get a seat at this table.

Commemorative Strands runs through Oct. 22 at Transformer, 1404 P St. NW. transformerdc.org. Free. Take Me to the Water runs through Oct. 11 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW. mortonfineart.com. Free, by appointment.  Made of Light runs Oct. 15 through Nov. 12 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW. mortonfineart.com. Free, by appointment. Mise En Place runs through Dec. 10 at Friends Artspace, 2400 North Edgewood St. Arlington. friendsartspace.com. Free, by appointment

Available Artwork by KESHA BRUCE

Available Artwork by NATALIE CHEUNG

CHOICHUN LEUNG | Cultured Magazine

21 Jan

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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.

create! Magazine features KATHERINE TZU-LAN MANN

29 Aug

Water Ribbon, A Solo Exhibition By Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann At Morton Fine Art In Washington D.C.

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Water Ribbon, 2021, Acrylic and sumi ink on paper, 90 x 60 in, Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art
Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Water Ribbon, 2021, Acrylic and sumi ink on paper, 90 x 60 in, Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art.

We’re excited to share the announcement of Water Ribbon, a solo exhibition of new works on paper by Washington, D.C.-based artist Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, on view from September 8th – October 6th, 2021 at Morton Fine Art. Featuring a collection of recent pieces by the artist, the exhibition offers an evocative perspective on contemporary ecologies during a time at which environmental destruction and the consequences of climate change loom ever larger. Utilizing acrylic, sumi ink, and collage, Mann draws from traditions of Chinese landscape painting to create mesmerizing, vibrant depictions of organic matter.

Mann begins her process by pouring liquid pigments onto paper, allowing them to dry and yielding a stain of color from which the work is then based. Through an embrace of the indeterminate qualities of her materials—the ink or paint takes its own course, without the artist dictating its shapes or forms—Mann demonstrates a symbiotic relationship to her materials that serves as an apt metaphor for coexistence with the natural world. What results from Mann’s subsequent additions to the paper are rich, layered tableaus imbued with an affective interplay of ideas.

Of the challenges posed by her recent work, Mann describes her rumination upon “the resuscitation of landscape painting in a world where ‘landscape’ is represented and defined through an ever-widening field of digital, graphic, and visual forms.” At times almost dizzying, the pieces shown in Water Ribbon eschew Western conventions of spatial perspective and inert figuration, instead embracing qualities of movement and monumentality central to Chinese landscape painting traditions.

Bright hues and a multiplicity of patterns are nestled among Mann’s illustrations of flora and fauna, with streams of ink evoking vines and riverbeds. Lying in the tension between the artificial and the organic, Mann’s renderings suggest and intertwining of systems rather than a constant grappling for control or domination. Splashes of ink seep across each image, traversing various shapes and forms. Elsewhere, translucent swathes of paint filter views of plant life, appearing like stained-glass window through which to gaze. “In my most recent work, I hope to live in the tradition of landscape painting, experiencing it for what it has always been: an occasion for radical experimentation and confrontation with the world, in the broadest sense of the term that sustains us,” said Mann. Amongst all the chaos and beauty, Water Ribbon proposes a mode of coexistence attuned to change, reciprocity, and an honoring of diverse forms of life.

Arch 3, 2020, Acrylic and sumi ink on paper, 56 x 56 in, Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art
Arch 3, 2020, Acrylic and sumi ink on paper, 56 x 56 in, Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art.

Artist Statement:

My work’s abstractions arise from the subjects I portray: ecological and geological cycles, processes of chemical corrosion and natural efflorescence. With roots in traditions of Chinese landscape painting, my monumentally sized paintings and installations evolve a fantastic, abstract vision of the natural world. My latest work confronts the challenge: the resuscitation of landscape painting in a world where “landscape” is represented and defined through an ever-widening field of digital, graphic, and visual forms. How can a painting capture flux, abundance, waste, fertility, and the collision and collusion of diverse forms? How can it respond to the pressure we place on our era’s fragile ecosystem? My paintings explore both questions by sustaining tension between what is artificial and what is natural, between what is chemical and what is biological, between organic and inorganic. The paper on which I paint is not only a recognition of a tradition of Chinese painting; it is also a medium of vulnerability and expansiveness, susceptible to crease and tear as well as to collage and collation. My own role in the creation of the paintings strikes a balance between the purposive and the protective. I trust to process, chance, and change, but I encourage, direct, and facilitate all of these. In my most recent work, I hope to live in the tradition of landscape painting, experiencing it for what it has always been: an occasion for radical experimentation and confrontation with the world, in the broadest sense of the term that sustains us.

Crust, Mantle, Core, 2021, Acrylic and collage on paper, 60 x 60 in, Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art.

Crust, Mantle, Core
, 2021, Acrylic and collage on paper, 60 x 60 in, Image courtesy of Morton Fine Art.

Alicia Puig

Available artwork by KATHERINE TZU-LAN MANN

Contact Morton Fine Art to view by appointment. (202) 628-2787 (call or text), info@mortonfineart.com. Mask required.

New mixed media and experimental printmaking artworks by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY

6 Aug
ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY, Blossoms Fall, 2021, 16″x12″, mixed media and experimental printmaking on canvas

Rosemary Feit Covey was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a career spanning three decades she has exhibited internationally and received countless awards. Ms. Covey is the recipient of both a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and Alpha Delta Kappa Foundation National Fine Art Award. Ms. Covey’s work is in many major museum and library collections, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the New York Public Library Print Collection, the National Museum of American History, Harvard University and the Papyrus Institute in Cairo, Egypt. In 2007 a large retrospective of Ms. Covey’s science-related work was displayed at the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago.

Ms. Covey was the recent recipient of a fellowship at Georgetown University Medical Center, as the 2007-2008 Artist-in-Residence. She has also held residencies in Bellagio, Italy and in Santa Ana, California and has had solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including Toronto, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Zurich and Geneva. Solo museum exhibitions include the Butler Museum of American Art and the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts. Her work has been exhibited in countless group exhibitions including major exhibitions at the National Collection of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Most recently two pieces were shown at the Danforth Museum. Eric Denker, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Henry T. Hopkins, Director of the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center in Los Angeles have written comprehensive articles on Ms. Covey’s work.

Covey has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2010.

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY, Yana’s Birds, 2021, 46″x30″, mixed media and experimental printmaking on canvas

Available artwork by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY

On view by appointment at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001

info@mortonfineart.com

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

New Arrivals from ANDREI PETROV’s NYC studio

4 Aug
Andrei Petrov, Pieces of a Thought, 2018, 40″x60″, oil on canvas

The production of a painting begins with a pencil or ink drawing on paper which I extrapolate from and edit as I work the canvas. First with pencil or charcoal and then with color washes done with acrylic or ink, I map the raw canvas and allow it to be ingrained with the materials. Once satisfied with the composition and balance, the surface is sealed with a clear acrylic so as to allow the use of oil based pigments. Handmade tools are used to drag, apply, scrape and blend the paint across the canvas plane. Sandpaper and rags also propel the evolution of the work. The addition and subtraction of paint are meant to act as a metaphor for the intentions and motives for which the paintings are based.

– Andrei Petrov

Andrei Petrov, Staycation, 2019, 40″x40″, oil on canvas

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Fairmont Hotel, Chicago, IL

Four Seasons Hotel, Washington, DC

Four Seasons Hotel, Punta Mita, Mexico

Conrad Hotel, Miami, FL

The Athem, New York, NY

Hotel Plaza Athenee, New York, NY

Andrei Petrov, Pensive Sunday, 2020, 40″x60″, oil on canvas
Andrei Petrov, Chiming In, 2015, 38″x72″, oil on canvas

Available Artwork by ANDREI PETROV

On view by appointment at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001

info@mortonfineart.com

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

MALIZA KIASUWA reviewed in The East African

10 Jul

THURSDAY JULY 08 2021

By FRANK WHALLEY

Multimedia collages

Elsewhere, flying the flag abroad for the richness and variety of this region’s art scene is Maliza Kiasuwa with simultaneous exhibitions of her multimedia collages in London, UK and Washington DC.

Dense and allegorical, both explore her own origins woven into an investigation of the wider African experience within the context of post-colonial societies.

Thus in the London show, at the prestigious Sulger-Buel Gallery, are some 16 collages under the general title of Ancestry, while in Washington at Morton Fine Arts the theme is developed with 19 collages and wall hangings, also from her Pride of Origins series.

They give a broader view of the continuing inequalities of exchange between Africa and the West while the artist examines herself and her position as a woman of European and African descent.

With works created in her studio on the shores of Lake Naivasha, both exhibitions include images from the corpus of tribal artefacts from an arc reaching from West Africa (a Senufo mask), through Cameroon and the Western DRC (the white spirit masks of the Shiri-Punu group) taking in the reliquary figures of the Bakota, to the Eastern DRC with the use of a striped Songye mask.

These help to give Kiasuwa’s collages context and being familiar from museums, books and thousands of cheap copies, act too as entry points; touchstones for further consideration of the artworks.

They also echo, perhaps sub-consciously, the artist’s own journey from West to East… born in Bucharest to a Romanian mother and a Congolese father, then moving to Kinshasa and on to Nairobi before settling in Naivasha.

Thus matters of place and identity are close to Kiasuwa’s heart, as is the impact of industrial development forced onto a traditional rural society, considered in her 2019 Yesterday is Today series of soft sculptures shown at the Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi.

By the time you read this, the exhibitions might have been taken down but happily, given their distance, they remain intact for a virtual visit; in London at https://www.sulger-buel-gallery.com/artists/132-maliza-kiasuwa/overview/ and in Washington at https://www.mortonfineart.com/artist/maliza-kiasuwa

Available Artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA