Tag Archives: morton fine art

OSI AUDU’s solo exhibition “A Sense of Self” reviewed in The Washington Post

11 Jan
Osi Audu’s “Self-Portrait with a Yoruba Hairstyle” in the exhibit “A Sense of Self.” (Osi Audu/Morton Fine Art)

Osi Audu

By Mark Jenkins

January 7, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EST

Especially when rendered with gleaming graphite, Osi Audu’s hard-edge geometric abstractions evoke high-tech machines. But “A Sense of Self,” the title of the Nigeria-born New Yorker’s show at Morton Fine Art, suggests he has something else in mind. Nearly all the pictures are designated as self-portraits, and often streamline the shapes of West African masks. Audu’s inspiration is the Yoruba idea of “outer and inner head,” according to the gallery’s statement.

The show is divided primarily between monochromatic drawings, executed in gray graphite and black pastel, and brightly colorful paintings, mostly in two contrasting acrylic pigments. Audu distills the forms of masks, headdresses and hairstyles to planes, angles and curves, and positions them on white backdrops that emphasize the images’ seeming three-dimensionality. It would make sense for the artist to translate such pictures into sculpture, and in fact this show is set to include two painted-steel pieces that seem to be closely related to the paintings. (The sculptures didn’t arrive in time to be seen for this review.)

The colors and shapes are usually presented as stark dualities, but not always. “Self-Portrait After Dogon Bird Mask” features four hues rather than two, and the graphite areas in the black-and-gray drawings are made of free, densely overlapping strokes. While inner and outer are elsewhere tidily juxtaposed, the graphite’s intricate textures are intriguingly in-between.

Osi Audu: A Sense of Self Through Jan. 15 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

Available artwork by OSI AUDU

MICHAEL ANDREW BOOKER | Art in Embassies | 3 Questions Video

10 Jan

For over five decades, Art in Embassies (AIE) has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy through a focused mission of vital cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and dynamic artist exchange. The Museum of Modern Art first envisioned this global visual arts program in 1953, and President John F. Kennedy formalized it at the U.S. Department of State in 1963. Today, Art in Embassies is an official visual arts office within the U.S. Department of State, engaging over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors. It encompasses over 200 venues in 189 countries. Professional curators and registrars create and ship about 60 exhibitions per year, and since 2000, over 70 permanent collections have been installed in the Department’s diplomatic facilities throughout the world.

Art in Embassies fosters U.S. relations within local communities world-wide – in the last decade, more than 100 artists have traveled to countries participating in AIE’s exchange programs and collaborated with local artists to produce works now on display in embassies and consulates. Going forward, AIE will continue to engage, educate, and inspire global audiences, showing how art can transcend national borders and build connections among peoples.

Available artwork by MICHAEL ANDREW BOOKER.

Short Video / Artist Talk by OSI AUDU on his solo exhibition “A Sense of Self” at Morton Fine Art

18 Dec

“A Sense of Self” A solo exhibition of new drawings, paintings and sculpture by OSI AUDU

December 8th, 2021 – January 15th, 2022

Contact the gallery for viewing by appointment, price list, additional information and acquisition.

Complimentary catalogs available upon request.

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

info@mortonfineart.com

About “A Sense of Self”

Morton Fine Art is proud to present A Sense of Self, a solo exhibition of new works by Nigerian multimedia artist Osi Audu; on view from December 8, 2021 – January 15, 2022.

Working across drawing, painting and sculpture, Audu considers notions of internal and external dualities, most distinctively, the Yoruba sense of “outer and inner head.” The works–geometric abstractions made alive with vibrant shades of blue, red, green, yellow and black, reflect Audu’s celebration of color as a manifestation of interior human essence. Each of the pieces in A Sense of Self are presented as self-portraits, which Audu articulates to be “the portraits of the intangible self.”

In conversation with classical African aesthetics, Audu’s works examine the human head as an axis of material and subliminal consciousness. In this sense, the artist captures what exists prior to and beyond embodiment, the self outside of matter. Though many of his pieces are rich in color, at their core, each one is a rumination on blackness—that which is imperceivable by the human eye. In works reminiscent of scientific illustrations, Audu gives image to internal expressions of the self, investigating the mechanisms and shapes of the human spirit.

As studies of visceral perception, Audu’s portraits ask questions such as, what might the intangible self look like after donning a Dogon bird mask; or after wearing an Efik headdress? His answer to the former is: four sharp rectangular shapes, with a free-form waved appendage; to the latter: a gently coiled form, with two flat surfaces. To Audu, these questions are neither anomalous nor incidental. Instead, they are essential vehicles for investigating what is nestled between the layers of the mind, body and personal identity that we each understand ourselves to have. A Sense of Self provides a deeply personal visual language for examining the complex structures of being. At once dynamic and uncomplicated, these works leave the audience with questions about themselves.

OSI AUDU received a B.A. in Fine Art with First Class Honors from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA. He has been exhibited at, and collected by, public Institutions including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, USA, The British Museum and the Horniman Museum, both in London, and the Wellcome Trust Gallery in London. Audu’s work has also been exhibited at the Tobu Museum and Setagaya Museum, both in Japan, the Liverpool Museum in England, the Science Museum in London; and acquired for corporate collections including Microsoft Art Collection, Sony Classical New York and the Schmidt Bank in Germany. Audu has been represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. since 2012.

Available artwork by OSI AUDU

OSI AUDU’s solo exhibition “A Sense of Self”

13 Dec
Osi Audu’s latest exhibition investigates notions of the self beyond  the materiality that defines our existence
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Self Portrait after Dogon Bird Mask, 2017-2021, 54″x72″, pastel and graphite on paper mounted on canvas

A Sense of Self
A solo exhibition of new drawings, paintings and sculpture by OSI AUDU
December 8th, 2021 – January 5th, 2022


Contact the gallery for viewing by appointment, price list, additional information and acquisition. Complimentary catalogs available upon request.

(202) 628-2787 (call or text) info@mortonfineart.com

Available Artwork by OSI AUDU
Self-Portrait after Head of Pangwe Figure, 2018, 22″x31″, acrylic on canvas
About A Sense of Self
Morton Fine Art is proud to present A Sense of Self, a solo exhibition of new works by Nigerian multimedia artist Osi Audu; on view from December 8, 2021 – January 5, 2022.
Working across drawing, painting and sculpture, Audu considers notions of internal and external dualities, most distinctively, the Yoruba sense of “outer and inner head.” The works–geometric abstractions made alive with vibrant shades of blue, red, green, yellow and black, reflect Audu’s celebration of color as a manifestation of interior human essence. Each of the pieces in A Sense of Self are presented as self-portraits, which Audu articulates to be “the portraits of the intangible self.”
Self Portrait II, 2021, 22″x31″, pastel and graphite on paper mounted on canvas
In conversation with classical African aesthetics, Audu’s works examine the human head as an axis of material and subliminal consciousness. In this sense, the artist captures what exists prior to and beyond embodiment, the self outside of matter. Though many of his pieces are rich in color, at their core, each one is a rumination on blackness—that which is imperceivable by the human eye. In works reminiscent of scientific illustrations, Audu gives image to internal expressions of the self, investigating the mechanisms and shapes of the human spirit.
Self Portrait after Head of a Benin Queen Mother, 2021, 26″x14″x10.5″, painted steel
As studies of visceral perception, Audu’s portraits ask questions such as, what might the intangible self look like after donning a Dogon bird mask; or after wearing an Efik headdress? His answer to the former is: four sharp rectangular shapes, with a free-form waved appendage; to the latter: a gently coiled form, with two flat surfaces. To Audu, these questions are neither anomalous nor incidental. Instead, they are essential vehicles for investigating what is nestled between the layers of the mind, body and personal identity that we each understand ourselves to have.  A Sense of Self provides a deeply personal visual language for examining the complex structures of being. At once dynamic and uncomplicated, these works leave the audience with questions about themselves.
Self Portrait after an Efik Headdress, 2021, 22″x31″, pastel and graphite on paper mounted on canvas
Self Portrait with Yoruba Hairstyle, 2021, 22″x31″, pastel and graphite on paper mounted on canvas
Available artwork by OSI AUDU
About OSI AUDU
OSI AUDU received a B.A. in Fine Art with First Class Honors from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and an M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA. He has been exhibited at, and collected by, public Institutions including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, USA, The British Museum and the Horniman Museum, both in London, and the Wellcome Trust Gallery in London. Audu’s work has also been exhibited at the Tobu Museum and Setagaya Museum, both in Japan, the Liverpool Museum in England, the Science Museum in London; and acquired for corporate collections including Microsoft Art Collection, Sony Classical New York and the Schmidt Bank in Germany.
Audu has been represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. since 2012.
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 required.

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

Guest host, Dr. Melayne Price, chats with ‘The Dirty South’ exhibit’s curator, Valerie Cassel Oliver, as well as Houston artists Nathaniel Donnett and Mel Chin

13 Dec

NEWS

I SEE U, Episode 27: Storytelling Art of The Dirty South

Guest host, Dr. Melayne Price, chats with ‘The Dirty South’ exhibit’s curator, Valerie Cassel Oliver, as well as Houston artists Nathaniel Donnett and Mel Chin about what happens when contemporary art merges with the roots of Southern hip-hop culture.MELANYE PRICE | POSTED ONDECEMBER 9, 2021, 8:28 PM

To be black and southern is to contend with the embedded legacy of racial terror and grapple with the unique and enduring culture created in its shadow. The term “dirty south” can invoke many images connected to southern agrarian life, but hip-hop artists have transformed it into a banner of pride. Dirty South now represents a short cut for understanding the perspectives of creatives who were raised or procured their work in the South – through music, art, fashion, and other forms of cultural products that possessed a specific, Southern lens. This work has been captured in an exhibit called, “Dirty South,” currently on display at the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston until February. On this episode of I SEE U, join us as guest host, Dr. Melayne Price, chats with the exhibit’s curator, Valerie Cassel Oliver, as well as Houston artists Nathaniel Donnett and Mel Chin whose works are included in the show. Find out what happens when contemporary art merges with the roots of Southern hip-hop culture in The Dirty South.

Available Artwork by NATHANIEL DONNETT

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s “Successions : Traversing U.S. Colonialism” reviewed in Hyperallergic

11 Dec

Art Reviews

The Liminal Space of Identity for Residents of US Territories

In Amber Robles-Gordon’s artwork, the borders between states matter less than the overlapping territories of self, the never-ending negotiation of identity.

by Kriston Capps

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Washington, DC — Seven “flags” hang in Amber Robles-Gordon’s show at the American University Museum: one for each of the five unincorporated United States territories in the Caribbean, one for the District of Columbia, and one to signify the artist’s place in between those locales.

Each of these quilted, banner-like pieces has two sides: one personal, one political. This makes 14 flags — and countless subdivisions, really, considering all the fault lines and fractures that compose the quilted surfaces. They aren’t literal territorial emblems, but like the actual flags they resemble, these banners make a constitutional statement, about one person, divisible, beautifully so.

Suspended from the third-floor atrium, the seven flags are a showstopper in Successions: Traversing US Colonialism. For this show, which was curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah and also includes mixed-media collages on canvas, Robles-Gordon set out to explore her own Caribbean roots. The artist couples traditional textiles with an approach to abstraction that draws on Washington’s rich painting legacy to reflect the dynamism of the African diaspora, and where she dwells within it.

Robles-Gordon, who is Afro-Latina, spent much of the pandemic between San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she was born, and the District of Columbia, where she lives and works. The ideas that culminated with this body of work are informed by research into state borders, social systems, and political hierarchies. Yet the show brims with improvisation, color, and self-discovery.

Robles-Gordon borrows from insignia of the US territories while building her own personal cosmology of symbols to assert her supra-national identity. For the front side of her Virgin Islands quilt, titled “USVI Political” (2021), she deploys the shield banner and eagle emblem of the territory’s flag. The artist juxtaposes arrows, laurels, and other figurative elements with abstract bands of color alongside collaged images of Virgin Islands license plates. A gold chain hangs over the whole thing — just a dash of Robert Rauschenberg. “USVI Spiritual, Moko Jumbie: Walk Tall and Heal Forward” (2021), the back side, is an entirely abstract pattern that references the carnival stilt-walker tradition that came to the Caribbean from West Africa. The flags for Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and D.C. are similarly structured.

Successions considers the feedback loops of immigration and identity. It’s a formally intersectional show, too, as Robles-Gordon draws on Afro-Caribbean traditions and iconography as well as African American art history in her approach to collage. The works of David Driskell and Alma Thomas suffuse her mark-making: “Puerto Rico Political” (2021) resembles a Puerto Rican flag superimposed over one of Thomas’s circle paintings. Robles-Gordon’s quilts point to the rich use of fabric and textile techniques by Black artists such as Rosie Lee Tompkins and Faith Ringgold and the artists of Gee’s Bend (and, more recently, Tomashi Jackson and Eric N. Mack). A wealth of dense patterning and color adorns Robles-Gordon’s works, which reward close looking.

D.C. galleries are increasingly making room for artists weighing questions of status and identity. Anil Revri’s mixed-media abstractions, also on view at the museum, take cues from sacred Hindu patterns and geometric abstract painting; across town, the Arlington Arts Center is hosting an exhibition by Pakistan-born artist Sobia Ahmad that features a haunting series of white flags, made from screen-printed woven rice bags and based on her family’s forced migration after the Partition of India and Pakistan.

The works in Successions are stamped with stars and bars and other symbols laden with the weight of ceremony and state. Yet Robles-Gordon’s collages also include references to botánicas, birth control, and bioluminescent bays, putting the personal on par with the political. In her work, the borders between states matter less than the overlapping territories of self, the never-ending negotiation of identity, shown in these works as a source of comfort and conflict alike.

Successions: Traversing US Colonialism continues at the American University Museum (4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington D.C.) through December 12. The exhibition was curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah.

Available Artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

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

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s “Successions : Traversing U.S. Colonialism” reviewed in The Washington Post

3 Dec

Museums

Review

In the galleries: Artist’s works criss-cross the paths of U.S. colonialism

An installation view of Amber Robles-Gordon’s “Successions: Traversing U.S. Colonialism.” (Greg Staley/Katzen Arts Center, American University)

By Mark Jenkins

12/3/21 at 6:00 a.m. EST

Residents of D.C. are used to seeing the place as an almost-state, much like Maryland or Wyoming, yet not quite. Amber Robles-Gordon, a longtime Washingtonian who was born in Puerto Rico, has a different take. Her American University Museum show, “Successions: Traversing U.S. Colonialism,” groups D.C. with her birthplace and four other inhabited territories: Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. She represents these disenfranchised territories on two-sided quilted banners, one face for “political” and the other for “spiritual.”

Robles-Gordon has often shown fabric pieces in which a variety of found materials dangle in free-form compositions. The “Successions” banners are more tightly arranged, although still in improvisational patchwork. The political face of the D.C. quilt depicts the city’s diamond shape, minus the chunk that was retroceded to Virginia, and two sets of stars, echoing both the U.S. and D.C. flags. The flip side features motifs that evoke the Indigenous people who were displaced when the area became the capital of a country whose possessions would stretch from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Similar contrasts between official and ancestral are expressed on the alternate sides of the other quilts.

The show also features “Place of Breath and Birth,” collages on canvas that incorporate photos, including one of Robles-Gordon. These pieces are horizontal, and thus feel more like landscapes, albeit ones that are kaleidoscopic rather than realistic. They’re titled in Spanish and English, reflecting the artist’s Afro-Latina heritage. The artfully arranged scraps are analogous to what her statement calls “the missing slivers of my cultural identity,” and remind the viewer that Robles-Gordon’s exploration of U.S. territories began as a quest to learn more about herself.

Anil Revri’s “Geometric Abstraction 9.” (Neil Greentree/Katzen Arts Center, American University)

Like Robles-Gordon, Anil Revri begins with the decorative arts, only to transcend them. The Indian-born D.C. artist’s “Into the Light,” also at the university’s museum, consists of hard-edge symmetrical abstractions that invoke multiple Eastern spiritual traditions. His lustrous mixed-media pictures are executed mostly in black, white and metallic tones, sometimes with red touches. They’re partly inspired by yantras, Hindu sacred patterns whose earlier known examples are more than 20,000 years old. Revri also takes cues from Western sources.

Most of the works in this show are in the “Geometric Abstraction” series and were made in 2019-2020. Their sturdy frameworks suggest architecture, but they’re executed on handmade paper whose ragged edges and rough textures hint at fabric; it’s as if the pictures are both temples and the prayer rugs within them. A few earlier pieces, notably 2011’s “Ram Darwaza II,” include softer, cloudlike forms. But all the artist’s renderings can be read as symbolic maps of an orderly universe.

Amber Robles-Gordon: Successions: Traversing U.S. Colonialism and Anil Revri: Into the Light Through Dec. 12 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Available Artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

MICHAEL ANDREW BOOKER interviewed by Something Curated

2 Dec

Interview: Artist Michael Booker On Drawing As A Mechanism Of Healing

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Hailing from Jackson, Mississippi, multimedia artist Michael Booker’s latest series of portraits depict partially shielded bodies, intercepted by swathes of colour and lush organic forms. Joining geometric patterns with figuration, Booker’s large-scale works are rich in dynamism and detail. Exploring drawing practice itself as a healing mechanism, Booker’s new exhibition, Veil at Morton Fine Art in Washington D.C, open now and running until 4 December 2021, documents the emotional terrains crossed by the artist amidst the pandemic and concurrent instances of social injustice. The exhibition’s title gestures towards the strategies of emotional self-protection harnessed by the artist during periods of vulnerability and contemplation, barriers made visible in the layered effects captured by the drawings themselves. To learn more about Booker’s practice and the new exhibition, Something Curated spoke with the artist.

Michael Booker, Retrograde, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Something Curated: Can you give us some insight into your background and how you first became interested in art-making?

Michael Booker: Since I was a kid, I had always been interested in art-making. When I was growing up, my sister experimented with various creative outlets, and I think some of that curiosity rubbed off on me. Back then I was always sketching, but I didn’t develop a serious artistic practice until I was much older. I pursued and received my BFA thanks to the support of a professor who helped me see a possibility of a career in art, even though at the time I still didn’t completely believe it myself. I applied to grad school for only two reasons: to find a way to get out of Mississippi and to continue trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I looked at graduate school as postponing the “what comes next.”  Fortunately for me, while pursuing my MFA, I was able to find my full passion and finally gained confidence in the idea that I could make some kind of future for myself in art.

Michael Booker, The Dreamer that Thought, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

SC: What is the thinking behind the selection of works included in your new exhibition at Morton Fine Art?

MB: In my show, Veil, I wanted to explore my personal emotional response to the effects of the pandemic and the social and political landscape that took root over the past 12 to 18 months.  It was a very tumultuous time—I could not foresee the effects it would ultimately have on me. Amidst it all, I felt myself trying to protect my peace by guarding my emotions and hiding away any vulnerabilities that I may have felt. I turned to making these drawings as a form of a cathartic release, and to put a visual representation to the indescribable feelings that were eating away at me.

SC: You work with a very precise palette in your drawings — how do you think about using colour?

MB: I like to think about the energy contained in certain colour palettes, and conceptualise my use of them in a cinematic manner. I establish one colour as the main character, with every other colour operating as a supporting role. In Retrograde, I was determined to make a “yellow” piece. For me, yellow has been the most difficult colour to work with, as it can be overpowered by other colours so easily. Yellow, in all its excitement, has some amount of uncertainty in it. I wanted to point to a certain confusion resulting from a rush of so many things happening at the same time, and yellow felt like the perfect colour for evoking that indeterminacy.

Michael Booker, Before I’m a Burden I, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

SC: Could you expand on the figures you depict — who or what influences their forms?

MB: Some of the figures are people I know. My sister is in two of them, and some artist friends are in a few others. There’s a still from a TV show in one, and some of the figures are unknown amalgamations from reference pictures I source. I used my own body in just one piece.  Regardless of the person depicted, I saw their stories as a parallel to my own feelings, and positioned them as conduits for my own self-expression. I see all of my subjects as embodying myself in one way or another.

For example, in I Need a Forest Fire, I wanted to show a longing for a dramatic change that felt necessary in order to heal—a purification ritual to cleanse and start anew. A friend of mine was going through a tough time himself, dealing with his own issues. I felt he was looking for the same kind of change that I needed. I used a picture of him to show that these feelings are not only something I was experiencing, but can be universal.  There was a certain energy in his expression that encapsulated the tone I wanted to convey for the piece, and for the whole show.

Also, for every figure in the show, except for the figure in Everything’s Fine, I wanted to create some kind of barrier of entry to prevent the viewer from fully accessing the piece. I thought about the figures as trying to protect their vulnerabilities, so they were drawn out of focus, with their heads turned away or partially obscured. The figure in Everything’s Fine is the only one that directly engages with the viewer. His gaze locks onto the viewer, as if he is finally ready to let you in and drop his guard down.

Michael Booker, The Wait of the World, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

SC: What do you want to learn more about?

MB: I’m still in awe of how much of an impact colour can have. I love learning about tropical birds and watching nature documentaries. I want to go back to my childhood and learn about how roller coasters are made all over again, as my original dream job was to build them. Who are my ancestors and how far back can I trace them? What are more of the stories that have been lost over time from the Underground Railroad; and how were quilts used to hide messages? How will this pandemic, combined with the battle of public consciousness for social justice and equality, be looked back on in 100 years?  The way we look back on different events in history, such as the Great Depression, the Berlin Wall, or even how the Egyptian pyramids were built… will 2020-2021 (or whenever this period ends) be a period in time that gets a chapter in an 8th grade Social Studies textbook 100 years from now? Who will write that story? These are the things I want to learn about.



Feature image: Michael Booker, Everything’s Fine, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Available Artwork by MICHAEL ANDREW BOOKER

MICHAEL BOOKER’s solo “Veil” highlighted in Washingtonian Magazine

18 Nov

Here’s what you should check out this week:

A one-of-a-kind performance: Ben Folds, multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter and artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra, is bringing his greatest hits to the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall for one night only. He will be performing songs from his time as frontman of the Ben Folds Five, his solo career, and his many collaborative records. Monday 11/15 at 8 PM; $39-$79, buy tickets here.

Makin’ music: Bring the kids downtown for a lunchtime go-go music workshop in Franklin Park. Dante Pope, soul-vocalist and drummer, will teach the young musicians about the role of percussion instruments in creating the funky rhythms. Drumsticks will be provided. Tuesday 11/16 at 11 AM; Free, register here.

Fall vibes: Learn the art of floral design in a fall wreath-making workshop from local women-owned flower shop She Loves Me. While the florists will teach you how to put a variety of fresh seasonal flowers and plants on a brass structure, sip on a complimentary beverage from Denizens Brewing Co. in Riverdale Park, Md. Tuesday 11/16 from 6 PM-8 PM; Free, register here.

Reclaiming herself: Hear from model Emily Ratajkowski as she talks about her new memoir, My Body with New York magazine’s Hanna Rosin. In her book, Ratajkowski describes her personal exploration of feminism, sexuality, and power in a collection of essays that also investigates society’s fetishization of female beauty, the contempt for women’s sexuality, and the gray area between consent and abuse. Tuesday 11/16 at 7 PM; $12-$35, buy tickets here.

Have a laugh: Stand-up comedian Ali Siddiq started his comedy career by telling jokes in prison, which gave him the unique perspective and distinct style that has made thousands of people laugh over the past several years. This week, the Bring the Funny finalist will headline for his fourth time at the DC Improv Comedy Club. Wednesday 11/17 through Saturday 11/20 (times vary); $25-$30, buy tickets here.

Wine down: Relax after work with a watercolor painting session at Shop Made in DC’s Georgetown location. The self-guided DIY event comes with two prints to paint and two glasses of wine. Bring a friend, or come solo to meet some new friends. Wednesday 11/17 from 5 PM-7 PM; $20, buy tickets here.

Indigenous films: The National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Cinema Showcase started last week, and features several movies and panels from filmmakers from Indigenous communities throughout the Western Hemispheres and Arctic. Films include Rez Metal—which tells the story of a Navajo heavy metal band’s rise to fame—and Run Woman Run, about a bereaved single mother who gets her life back on track with the guidance of the ghost of her ancestor. Other programming includes short films that reflect Native storytelling traditions and panels about the hurdles that Indigenous filmmakers face. Through Thursday 11/18; Free, learn more here.

Storytelling through art: “Veil” is a new art exhibition at Morton Fine Art in Truxton Circle that depicts artist Michael Booker’s psychological journey throughout the pandemic and recent moments of social injustices. Booker combines watercolor, pen, and hand stitching to portray the resilience and strength of the Black community through troubling times. Through Saturday 12/4; Free, learn more here.

That’s all for now! Don’t forget to drop me a line at dbaker@washingtonian.com to let me know what you’re up to.

Damare Baker

ASSISTANT EDITOR

Before becoming an assistant editor, Damare Baker started out as an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.