Tag Archives: dc

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.

ADVERTISING

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.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook

http://www.mortonfineart.com

KATHERINE HATTAM | Martin Cid Magazine

17 Nov

Paintings and Prints by Katherine Hattam Showcase Places of the Mind in the Wake of Isolation

The Australian artist’s new work reflects on the comforts of solitude and the peculiarities of her enclosed island state

Art Martin Cid MagazineBy Art Martin Cid Magazine

Updated: November 14, 2022

Katherine Hattam A Strange Country, 2022 49 x 60.5 in. Mixed media on linen Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Washington, D.C. – Morton Fine Art is pleased to present Strange Country, Strange Times, a solo exhibition of paintings and prints by the artist Katherine Hattam. Incorporating literary and art-historical elements into her work, Hattam’s interiors offer materialist explorations of ultimately psychic space. The artist’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., Strange Country, Strange Times will be on view from November 16 – December 20, 2022 at Morton Fine Art’s Washington, D.C. space.

Katherine Hattam Perhaps, 2022 21.5 x 25.5 in Mixed media on linen Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Brightly shaded walls and windows, collaged book spines and iconographic depictions of native Australian fauna and flora make up much of Hattam’s painterly practice, a lifelong investigation with the domestic interior as its 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 throughout her artistic practice, doubly imbued as locations of domestic labor and sites of imaginative longing. Often, windows look out onto fantastic landscapes – a rueful rumination on experiences proffered but withheld.

In Strange Country, Strange Times, the vibrancy of Hattam’s window-views infiltrates into the domestic interior, reflecting the seeping isolation of the recent pandemic years, when means of travel and discovery were often confined to the mind. Hattam was well-equipped for such conditions: her domestic spaces have always been inveterately imaginative, expanded by (and often literally constructed from) the pages and covers of the books she’s been reading. Her frank pastiche of passing literary and artistic influences onto these interior landscapes discloses the extent to which Hattam views the perception of space as an inherently psychological construction, with internal influences and personal histories governing the way we make sense of even the most familiar room.

Katherine Hattam The Pinch, 2022 30 x 22 in. Jigsaw woodblock print on paper Edition 14/15 Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

In 2019, Hattam received a fellowship grant to study at the Australian Print Workshop under master printer Martin King, where she began learning the method of jigsaw woodcut printing, a technique of classical Japanese art that was later adopted by Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin. Several works in this exhibition were first made at that workshop in the months immediately preceding the pandemic. One of this show’s title works, Strange Country, sets Australian animal life in a landscape originally taken from Giotto. Reflecting on these portentous prints, Hattam notes that the pandemic allowed her to recognize the isolation implicit to living in Australia, a condition of being which she has often imposed into her art. Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa (1831), another woodblock print, is insterted regularly throughout Hattam’s work here, alternately as window views or paintings-within-paintings, and represents for the artists a mentality of time – waves of feminism, waves of coronavirus – that embraces natural rhythms based on a sense of tidal flow.

A longstanding image for Hattam is that of a wood-backed dining room chair, which the artist has drawn and even reconstructed as sculpture since the 1990s. The persistence of chairs, tables and books stand in for family members and personal influences, like portraits in absentia. Despite the inveterate cerebrality of her interior compositions, Hattam insists that her works are always “about actually being there: they exist because someone has been there to see it.” Her furniture, despite its symbolically potency and personal resonance, is also steadfastly literal, and represents a window into the broader material world. Through her compositions, Hattam asks: How much of one’s daily life is a mixture of what’s going on in your head and what’s going on outside?

Katherine Hattam headshot Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist. Photo credit: Clare Rae

Katherine Hattam (b. 1950) is a Melbourne-based Australian artist. Literature was a passion for Hattam’s mother, who first read Freud in adolescence, later passing her appreciation down to her daughter. Hattam graduated from Melbourne University in 1974 with a BA in Literature and Politics and a focus on psychoanalytic theory. Literary references abound in her work; some of the books used in her compositions derive from her mother’s extensive collection, while others are scoured from second-hand stores. Works on paper – drawing, printmaking and collage – are a continuing thread in her practice. Hattam’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Artbank, Heide, Art Gallery of South Australia, Deakin and La Trobe Universities, Warrnambool Art Gallery and Bendigo Art Gallery. In 1992 she was awarded an MFA by the Victorian College of the Arts, and in 2004 she was awarded a PhD by Deakin University. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2011.

Katherine Hattam This Strange Island, 2022 31 x 23 in. Mixed media on linen Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Morton Fine Art

Founded in 2010 in Washington D.C. by curator Amy Morton, 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 art collecting can be cultivated through an educational stance, 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. Morton Fine Art specializes in a stellar roster of nationally and internationally renowned artists as well as has an additional focus on artwork of the African Diaspora.

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001

ETO OTITIGBE | “Materiel Remains” reviewed in The Washington Post

25 Jun

Eto Otitigbe

Review by Mark Jenkins

June 24, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

“Dr. Nova,” by Eto Otitigbe, in the exhibit “Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints.” (Eto Otitigbe)

At first glance, the Eto Otitigbe paintings at Morton Fine Art don’t seem to have much connection with his best known ventures, which are public sculptures. But the swirling, inky facades of the artist’s “Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints” are inscribed with intricate designs that have an architectural quality. These half-hidden forms do suggest blueprints, albeit for purely theoretical structures.

Otitigbe, who teaches sculpture at Brooklyn College, generally paints on valchromat, a variety of colored plywood introduced about 25 years ago. The artist buries the substance’s bright hues under mostly black paint, which contrasts the lines engraved by a computer-controlled process. The cleanly cut patterns are as precise as the applied pigment is loose and smeary.

The artist is a member of the design team for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia, and his paintings do allude indirectly to hidden African American history. But they can also be seen as embodying the hidden structures that underlie a seemingly disordered universe. Trained as an engineer at MIT and Stanford, Otitigbe imposes structure even as he indulges painterly intuition.

Eto Otitigbe: Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints Through June 28 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

ETO OTITIGBE | Surface Magazine | Artist Statement

13 Jun

ARTIST STATEMENT

Eto Otitigbe’s Blueprint for Excavating Unseen Histories

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

BY RYAN WADDOUPS

June 13, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available Artwork by ETO OTITIGBE

ETO OTITIGBE | Materiel Remains

1 Jun
Materiel Remains : Consider this a blueprint, a series of blueprints.
A solo exhibition of new work by ETO OTITIGBE
May 28th – June 28th, 2022
Contact the gallery for viewing by appointment, price list, additional information and acquisition.(202) 628-2787 (call or text)
info@mortonfineart.com

Available Artwork by ETO OTITIGBE
Shadows, 2022, 36″x27″, aluminum and acrylic paint mounted on wood panel
About Materiel Remains
I construct speculative objects that echo within a residual future and the reminiscent present. These objects interrupt urban spaces, appearing to be foreign bodies, parts of an unknown whole, or agents of change. –  Eto OtitigbeMorton Fine Art is pleased to present Materiel Remains: Consider this a blueprint, a series of blueprints., a solo exhibition and a new series of works by the multidisciplinary artist Eto Otitigbe. A creator best known for his public art installations and site-specific interventions, Otitigbe’s work revolves around the recovery of lost or repressed historical narratives and their visual possibilities within the public eye. In his first solo exhibition with Morton Fine Art, Otitigbe reflects on the recent history of public art and its institutional deployment. Materiel Remains will be on view from May 28 – June 28, 2022 in MFA’s Washington, D.C. gallery.
In his work as a painter, sculptor, curator and fabricator, Otitigbe distorts the materialist distinction between blueprint and artifact, as well as the functional and contextual differences between monuments for posterity and temporary obstructions. Assuming a temporal framework that unravels intent and disaggregates historical coherence, the artist recognizes history as a grand artifice formed from the selective privileging of facts. In this conceptual vision, the role of the monument becomes a manifestation of historical record, visualizing and physically implementing preconceived narratives into present public space while making room for echoes of the past to take shape. Otitigbe’s thoughtful, tactile inversions take on the parlance and pose of public art while tacitly alienating in their collective messaging, creating specific objects that are both recognizable and not, and which play around themes of race, imperialism and historical teleology to excavate forgotten pasts and evoke new futures.
Group installation of new works from 2022, 20″x16″, valchromat & acrylic paint mounted on panel

Materiel (sometimes, matériel) refers to equipment, apparatuses, or supplies which are strategically deployed by an institution or group. Primarily a military term, the artist’s co-option of the word in reference to his own work draws attention to the tactility and provenance of his gallery works, as well as the specific geographies of the sites they refer to. Through the incision of engravature, and in traces of paint which stipple each work like a remnant, Otitigbe explores hidden sides of the same artifacts – rummaging through the residue of the large-scale public sculpture projects he’s made over the past four years to rememorialize them from ambiguous perspectives. His fusion of mixed media drawings, sculptural objects, and plate engravings create a new form in turn, somewhere between an object’s schematic conception and its material realization.

Dr. Nova (diptych), 2022, 60″x72″, aluminum and acrylic paint mounted on wood panel
By placing in dialogue the conceptual frameworks, design blueprints, specific histories and local landscapes which led to the realization of each work of public art as a discrete interactive form, Otitigbe unearths a profoundly materialist study of modern signifiers in public space. In his current public projects – including his work as a member of the Design Team for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville – Otitigbe has been involved in what theorists of Afrofuturism might term “countermemory”: assemblages which contest the colonial archive to establish the historical character of Black culture. In this current exhibition, Otitigbe collects the remains of these projects for a study of the materiel in the imaginative inquest of a future archaeologist: attempting to both trace and fuse the phenomena of recent history into a blueprint for the previously unseen, as well as to posit new futurist perspectives from which to study and critique the recent past. 
Available artwork by ETO OTITIGBE

Eto Otitigbe is interested in recovering buried narratives and giving form to the unseen. He is a polymedia artist whose interdisciplinary practice includes sculpture, performance, installation, and public art. Otitigbe’s public works includes temporary installations in Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens, NY) and Randall’s Island Park (New York, NY). His current public commissions include: Peaceful Journey (Mt. Vernon, NY, 2022); Cascode (Philadelphia, PA); Emanativ (Harlem, NY); Passing Point (Alexandria, VA). He was a member of the Design Team for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at UVA (Charlottesville, VA) where he contributed to the creative expression on the memorial’s exterior surface.

Otitigbe’s work has been in solo and group exhibitions that include 2013 Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial, organized by the Bronx Museum and Wave Hill; Abandoned Orchestra, Sound Sculpture installation and performance with Zane Rodulfo, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The Golden Hour, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA, curated by Oshun D. Layne; and Bronx: Africa, Longwood Gallery, Bronx, NY, curated by Atim Oton and Leronn P. Brooks. 

Otitigbe’s fellowships and awards include the CEC Artslink Project Award for travel and cultural projects in Egypt and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship at the National Museum of African Art where he explored the intersection of Urhobo language and historical objects. 

His curatorial projects include directing the es ORO Gallery in Jersey City, NJ (2007-09) and co-curating, alongside Amanda Kerdahi, the Topophilia Exhibition in Nees, Denmark (2017) as part of the ET4U Meetings Festival in Denmark.

He is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the Art Department at Brooklyn College. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, an M.S. in Product Design from Stanford University (M.S.) and an MFA in Creative Practice from the University of Plymouth. 

He has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2022.

Eto Otitigbe is interested in recovering buried narratives and giving form to the unseen. He is a polymedia artist whose interdisciplinary practice includes sculpture, performance, installation, and public art. Otitigbe’s public works includes temporary installations in Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens, NY) and Randall’s Island Park (New York, NY). His current public commissions include: Peaceful Journey (Mt. Vernon, NY, 2022); Cascode (Philadelphia, PA); Emanativ (Harlem, NY); Passing Point (Alexandria, VA). He was a member of the Design Team for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at UVA (Charlottesville, VA) where he contributed to the creative expression on the memorial’s exterior surface.

Otitigbe’s work has been in solo and group exhibitions that include 2013 Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial, organized by the Bronx Museum and Wave Hill; Abandoned Orchestra, Sound Sculpture installation and performance with Zane Rodulfo, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The Golden Hour, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA, curated by Oshun D. Layne; and Bronx: Africa, Longwood Gallery, Bronx, NY, curated by Atim Oton and Leronn P. Brooks. 

Otitigbe’s fellowships and awards include the CEC Artslink Project Award for travel and cultural projects in Egypt and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship at the National Museum of African Art where he explored the intersection of Urhobo language and historical objects. 

His curatorial projects include directing the es ORO Gallery in Jersey City, NJ (2007-09) and co-curating, alongside Amanda Kerdahi, the Topophilia Exhibition in Nees, Denmark (2017) as part of the ET4U Meetings Festival in Denmark.

He is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the Art Department at Brooklyn College. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, an M.S. in Product Design from Stanford University (M.S.) and an MFA in Creative Practice from the University of Plymouth. 

He has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2022.

About Morton Fine Art
Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC by curator Amy Morton, 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 art collecting can be cultivated through an educational stance, 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. Morton Fine Art specializes in a stellar roster of nationally and internationally renowned artists as well as has an additional focus on artwork of the African Diaspora.

Morton Fine Art founded the trademark *a pop-up project in 2010. *a pop-up project is MFA’s mobile gallery component which hosts temporary curated exhibitions nationally.

Gallery hours:
By appointment only. Mask still required.

Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787
info@mortonfineart.com
www.mortonfineart.com

LIZETTE CHIRRIME in OkayAfrica

18 May

Mozambique

Spotlight

Spotlight: Mozambican Lizette Chirrime On Stumbling Into Artistry

Zee Ngema

Mozambican artist Lizette Chirrime

Photo courtesy of the artist 

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

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

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

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

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

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

What are the central themes in your work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

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

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

Image courtesy of the artist

African Single Mother, 2021

Available Artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME

LIZETTE CHIRRIME | Rituals for Soul Search | in ArtPlugged

13 Apr

Lizette Chirrime: Rituals for Soul Search

Exhibitions

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

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

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

Working primarily with recycled materials, Lizette Chirrime’s practice has a marked foundation in personal and traditional spirituality. Chirrime describes her creative process as “a prayer to the Universe”–an intention to heal the earth from overconsumption, pollution and greed. Sourcing scrap materials from her environment and immediate communities, Chirrime uses fabric, burlap, rope, paint, beads, leather and more to produce dynamic collages that speak to African womanhood, and more broadly, the human condition.

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

Finding inspiration in the natural world–the vastness of the ocean, the hues of the sunrise, the evolution of a storm–Chirrime’s pieces are layered with a poetic consideration for what she calls “the essence of life.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Rituals for Soul Search

©2022 Lizette Chirrime, Morton Fine Art

Available Artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME

Morton Fine Art | 52 O St Studios in Washingtonian Magazine

26 Feb

HOME & STYLE 

Inside Five DC-Area Working Art Studios

Great spots to connect with the local scene and find one-of-a-kind pieces.

WRITTEN BY MARISA M. KASHINO 

  | PUBLISHED ON FEBRUARY 23, 2022

 TWEET  SHARE

52 O Street Studios. Photograph by Jarrett Hendrix.

Though it’s not always obvious where to find them, Washington is full of working art studios. Here are a few spots where many artists create under one roof. Some have public hours; others are by appointment only. All are excellent places to support the local scene and procure one-of-a-kind pieces.

1. 52 O Street Studios

52 O St., NW

This enclave of artists in Truxton Circle has been around since the 1970s. The brick-faced former factory houses about 50 creatives, including painters, photographers, and fashion designers. The best way to get a sense of the work being made there is on Instagram—follow @52ostreetstudios. Pre-pandemic, the studios would occasionally open up for events. These days, you can make an appointment with individual artists. The building is also home to two galleries: Homme, which features local work by independent and emerging artists, including from the studios upstairs, and Morton Fine Art, a gallery that shows pieces by 25 artists around the world, including contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora.

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. Photograph by Stereo Vision Photography.

2. Pyramid Atlantic Art Center

4318 Gallatin St., Hyattsville

A huge concentration of artists can be found along the Route 1 corridor stretching from Mount Rainier to Hyattsville. While there are hundreds of studios and artist collectives in the aptly named Gateway Arts District, few are as publicly accessible as Pyramid Atlantic, which is open five days a week and specializes in printmaking and papermaking. Among its offerings: 17 private art studios, a gallery (where most of the art is under $1,000), community studios that can be rented by the hour, and a shop selling work by the resident artists (visits to their studios are by appointment). More info here.

Torpedo Factory. Photograph by Ja’Mon Jackson/City of Alexandria.

3. Torpedo Factory Art Center

105 N. Union St., Alexandria

The nation’s largest community of open artist studios under one roof isn’t in Brooklyn or Oakland. It’s in Old Town. More than 165 artists work in the former munitions factory on the waterfront. Before Covid, their spaces were accessible to the public much of the week. While the building is still open five days, the hours of individual artists are now understandably spottier. So if there’s particular work you want to see, best to schedule in advance. Profiles of the artists—who run the gamut of styles and mediums—are on their website.

Stable Arts. Photograph courtesy of Stable Arts.

4. Stable

336 Randolph Pl., NE

In 2019, right before the pandemic, 25 working studios plus a gallery opened in this repurposed horse stable in Eckington. Though the unfortunate timing means Stable has flown mostly under the radar, a peek inside would reveal dozens of resident artists producing collage, paintings, sculpture, and photography. The studios are closed to the public right now, but executive director Maleke Glee is planning programming in the spring and summer. He says there will be art and crafts for kids so parents can peruse artwork and chat with the artists. Join Stable’s mailing list and learn about its residents here.

5. Arlington Arts Center 

3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

In addition to a wide selection of classes for kids and adults, the nonprofit hosts a dozen resident artists, who work in onsite studios. The current cohort includes painters, photographers, sculptors, and mixed-media artists. You can learn about them and find their contact information on their website. They show work publicly in the facility’s Wyatt Residence Artist Gallery and, a few times a year (Covid permitting), during exhibition events. Appointments are required to visit individual studios. The center is also home to eight other galleries that show work from all over.

This article appears in the February 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

VICTOR EKPUK’s site specific installation at The Phillips Collection

21 Feb


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

July 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available Artwork by VICTOR EKPUK

VICTOR EKPUK’s mural at Kimpton Banneker featured in Inspire Design

7 Dec

06DEC

CAPTURING THE CAPITAL CITY

ABBY ELYSSA

Partnering for the second time with Kimpton Hotels (its first being the Kimpton St. George in Toronto), award-winning interior design firm Mason Studio’s latest project, the Kimpton Banneker in Washington, DC, is a sophisticated, alluring space layered with unique local elements and thoughtful hidden meanings, all which pay homage to the Capital City.

“For the Kimpton Banneker in Washington, DC, our design approach considers the unique characteristics that make up the Capital City, to provide a hotel experience that celebrates local art and culture and is meant to create a sense of place,” said Stanley Sun, cofounder, Mason Studio. “We’ve achieved this through a curated collection of art, furnishings and objects, which have all been intentionally selected for the spaces to appear as if they were collected over time. Traditional materials throughout the hotel are realized in new ways to create a connection between the old world and new.”

A common bird theme runs throughout the hotel design, beginning with the eponymous Lady Bird Bar and Lounge, which takes inspiration from Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson’s—a prior First Lady of the U.S.—dedication and interest in DC’s arts and culture scene.

The Lady Bird Bar and Lounge represents a nest perched on the top of the building, made up of unique new and antique objects curated from across the city (much like how a bird collects shiny items to build its home).

DC’s official bird, the Wood Thrush, also makes an appearance throughout the design, seen through subtle hints of bird’s wings and patterns throughout the building. Local artist, Meg Biram, was chosen by Mason Studio to incorporate birds in her mural artwork behind the rooftop bar area.

Mason Studio has also provided a platform for local notable artists and BIPOC creators within public and private spaces of the hotel to reflect the city’s vibrant arts and culture scene and provide an opportunity to showcase emerging and established artists’ work to international travelers, Sun said.

In a tribute to the hotel’s namesake, a unique abstract portrait by Rob Matthews of the influential Black innovator from DC, Benjamin Banneker, at work with one of his tools—a compass—and a page from one of his almanacs, welcomes guests into the hotel’s main lobby.

The lobby also features an abstract mural by Nigerian-American artist Victor Ekpuk in addition to work from Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter, a co-founding member of Black Artists of DC.

From the Banneker’s lobby, to the two restaurants, to the oversized hotel suites, Mason Studio has ensured guests are immersed in a well-curated boutique hotel design experience, filled with thoughtful, provocative and memorable details from the minute they step through the lobby’s front doors.

“The interior design of the hotel communicates a narrative of Washington’s history: its monumental architecture mixed with contemporary culture, to offer a guest experience that is both reflective, yet a unique interpretation of the city,” Sun said.

Available Artwork by Victor Ekpuk