Tag Archives: morton fine art

Successions: Traversing US Colonialism | Amber Robles-Gordon | American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center | Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah

21 Jul

August 28, 2021 – December 12, 2021

Amber Robles-Gordon presents Successions: Traversing US Colonialism, a solo exhibition on view at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in fall 2021. Successions is a conceptual juxtaposition that celebrates abstraction as an art form while leveraging it as a tool to interrogate past and current US policies within its federal district (Washington, DC) and territories (including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) that it controls. By highlighting nuances related to US governance in its federal districts and territories, Robles-Gordon seeks to question who has access to resources, citizenship, and the right to sovereignty.

Robles-Gordon creates artwork imbued with a layered visual language replete with cultural signifiers and abstract gestures. Successions is a celebration of abstraction as an artistic expression. Robles-Gordon utilizes iconic artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Alma Thomas, Romare Bearden, and members of the Washington Color School as vivid reference points for her own dynamic use of color, form, and material within the works she created for the exhibition. These explorations will provide insights into a number of inquiries that undergird the construction of the exhibition. Successions creates a pathway towards discursive criticism around issues impacting marginalized communities oppressed by the United States’ hegemonic domestic and foreign policies. The exhibition features a new body of colorful abstract paintings, collages, and quilts created in 2020 and 2021 between San Juan, Puerto Rico (Robles-Gordon’s birthplace) and Washington, DC (where she currently lives).

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robles-Gordon’s creative strategies were directly impacted as a result of sheltering in place in San Juan. The lack of access to materials and arduous circumstances she was confronted with in Puerto Rico and upon returning to Washington, DC catalyzed Robles-Gordon to improvise her approach to making works for the exhibition. Moreover, the experience heightened her awareness of how communities on the margin are adversely treated during moments of crisis.

Robles-Gordon’s also uses works featured in Successions to mine the stories, personal narratives, and aesthetics of the women of the Caribbean, particularly of African descent, in an effort to investigate the political, socio-economic, and environmental implications of placemaking, contemporary colonial policy, and notions of citizenship on these social groups. The debate over DC statehood, similar to Puerto Rico, has been a prevalent point of contention in the District but rarely featured in the national conversation. Robles-Gordon seeks to use her “backyard” as a metaphor that would expand our understanding of notions of freedom, liberty, and justice.

A fully illustrated catalog with essays by Ossei-Mensah and Noel Anderson and in-person and virtual programs will accompany the exhibition, enriching the viewer’s experience.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Amber Robles-Gordon is a mixed media visual artist of Puerto Rican and West Indian heritage. She is known for her commissioned temporary and permanent public art installations for numerous government agencies, institutions, universities, and art fairs.

Robles-Gordon has over twenty years of experience exhibiting and in art education, commissioned critiques, lectures, teaching, and exhibition coordination. She received a BS in business administration from Trinity University and an MFA in painting from Howard University, Washington, DC. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including Germany, Italy, Malaysia, England, and Spain. Robles-Gordon has participated in residencies in Costa Rica, Washington, DC, and at the American Academy in Rome, Italy. Her artwork has been reviewed and featured in numerous magazines, journals, newspapers, and online publications.

Most recently, she held an online solo exhibition at Galeria de Arte, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was featured by Tafeta Gallery in the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, England, and during London Art Week. In 2022, she will create a traveling exhibition in collaboration with Cultural DC and El Cuadrado Gris Galeria in Puerto Rico.

ABOUT THE CURATOR

Larry Ossei-Mensah uses contemporary art as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. A Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic, Ossei-Mensah has organized exhibitions and programs at commercial and nonprofit spaces around the globe from New York City to Rome, featuring artists including Firelei Baez, Allison Janae Hamilton, Brendan Fernades, Ebony G. Patterson, Modou Dieng, Glenn Kaino, Joiri Minaya and Stanley Whitney. Moreover, Ossei-Mensah has actively documented cultural happenings featuring the most dynamic visual artists working today, including Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Federico Solmi, and Kehinde Wiley.

A native of The Bronx, Ossei-Mensah is also the co-founder of ARTNOIR, a 501(c)(3) and global collective of culturalists who design multimodal experiences aimed to engage this generation’s dynamic and diverse creative class. ARTNOIR endeavors to celebrate the artistry and creativity of Black and Brown artists around the world via virtual and in-person experiences. Ossei-Mensah was a contributor to the first-ever Ghanaian Pavilion for the 2019 Venice Biennial with an essay on the work of visual artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

Ossei-Mensah is the former Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at MOCAD in Detroit and currently serves as Curator-at-Large at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where he curated the New York Times heralded exhibition Let Free Ring and A Return: Liberation as Power respectively.       

Ossei-Mensah has been profiled in publications including the New York Times, Artsy, and Cultured Magazine, and was recently named to Artnet’s 2020 Innovator List. Follow him on Instagram at @larryosseimensah and Twitter at @youngglobal.

Available artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

Partnership between global digital platform for art from Africa and the African Diaspora | Pavillon 54 | and Morton Fine Art

19 Jul

ENGAGING THE STORY OF ART FOR A SUSTAINABLE AFRICAN ART MARKET: THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PAVILLON54 AND MORTON FINE ART

ENGAGING THE STORY OF ART FOR A SUSTAINABLE AFRICAN ART MARKET: THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PAVILLON54 AND MORTON FINE ART

JULY 16, 2021

Amy Morton at Morton Fine Art gallery

As the one-stop global digital platform and community for art from Africa and the Diaspora, Pavillon54 always seeks to enter fruitful partnerships with artists, curators, collectors, and galleries. It became only natural, then, that for the next step of our development, we partnered with some of the most exciting international galleries that specialise in contemporary African art and share our vision for the African art market.

A couple of months ago, Pavillon54 entered a partnership with Morton Fine Art, a Washington DC gallery and curatorial group, headed by Amy Morton, that provides museum-quality art with a focus on the African Diaspora. We were instantly drawn to Morton Fine Art due to their impressive roster of artists and the diversity of their offering, whether geographically, in style, in medium, or in the range of artists themselves. What was most captivating, however, was our shared vision to go beyond the commercialisation of African art and to tell the underlying stories—an essential element to foster a sustainable development of the market.

With Pavillon54’s expertise in the African art market and digital strategy, combined with Morton Fine Art’s incredible roster of artists, finding contemporary African art that is not only aesthetically exceptional, but also enriched in narrative, becomes easier for the African art collector. Together, Pavillon54 and Morton Fine Art are making high-calibre contemporary African art more accessible, more transparent, and more meaningful.

We sat down with founder and curator Amy Morton, to learn more about how Morton Fine Art was founded, and what makes it an extraordinary destination for African art.

Artwork of Victor Ekpuk, Kesha Bruce and GA Gardner

Gallery View at Morton Fine Art, Artworks by Victor Ekpuk, Kesha Bruce and GA Gardner

P54: How did Morton Fine Art come to be? What was the driving force or need to be filled that resulted in the creation of the gallery?

AM: I founded Morton Fine Art in 2010. My first exhibition was launched early that year under Morton Fine Art’s trademark mobile gallery, a pop-up project in Washington, DC in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. It was in a former gallery space which I had leased short term, for a three-month period. I was interested in curating an exhibition that I felt positioned substantive art in the market and quickly realized I needed a permanent location to continue in that vein. I then leased a space in Adams Morgan, a quirky district in DC known for independent businesses. Morton Fine Art was in that location for 9 years before moving to a flourishing creative community in Truxton Circle at 52 O St NW, where it has been for nearly 3 years. 

From its inception, the inclusion of diverse voices, nurturing a safe space and working with an educational stance has been at the forefront of the gallery’s mission. I am firmly committed to a comfortable and intimate gallery space intended for exploration and journeying through visual art.  

P54: Why the focus on the African Diaspora?

AM: I have always been interested in and open to artwork and original voices from all over the world. Interconnectedness between people and exploring the human condition fascinates me. I value our collective overlaps and progressions toward deeper shared understandings and relationships. In the 90’s I attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, where my studies in art were informed by a strong commitment to equity and diversity. I think the combination of these personal priorities resulted in a natural inclusion of artists from the African diaspora, as well as from many other places and orientations, whose practice foregrounds pertinent, globally relevant, philosophical questions. With these values at the center of my work, Morton Fine Art’s curatorial vision has bloomed and been enriched organically.  

My vision for the gallery, as well as for my life, is to create a safe space for dialogue and the sharing of ideas. In that way, the evolution of the gallery has been very process-oriented, and not something that was artificially orchestrated or even conscious much of the time. It continues to be a growth-oriented work in progress. I studied fine art and art history and appreciate that visual art is a potent tool for highlighting issues which may otherwise be difficult for people to address. I am attracted to the intersection of art and activism, and how artwork can be an effective tool for personal introspection, interaction, dialogue and ultimately, I hope, change and growth. 

Osi Audu, Self Portrait, after Head of a Shango Staff, 2017 | Pavillon 54  Limited

 Osi Audu ‘Self Portrait, after Head of a Shango Staff’ (2017)

P54: What qualities do you see in an artist when you sign them on and how do these connect with the mission of Morton Fine Art?

AM: I usually know we are well matched right away. My artist partners are incredible at what they do! First and foremost, their creative vision and visual language inspire me on such a deep level. Examples include Osi Audu‘s philosophical exploration of “The Tangible and Intangible Self “; Victor Ekpuk‘s mining of historical narratives, the vocabulary of the contemporary African diaspora, and humanity’s connection to the sacred;  Rosemary Feit Covey‘s attention and sensitivity to the delicacy of earth and the natural world; Maliza Kiasuwa and Meron Engida‘s themes of reconciliation; and Lizette Chirrime’s interconnectivity between art practice, spirituality and healing.

Rosemary Feit Covey, Amethyst Deceivers II, 2019 | Pavillon 54 Limited

Rosemary Feit Covey ‘Amethyst Deceivers II’ (2019)

Their deep and meaningful engagement with these themes is what powers my belief in them and commitment to uplifting their voices. The artwork shown here is purely the artists’ visions, created without gallery interference. I look for long-term partnerships, so synergy is also important. The relationship needs to be trust-based and natural as we often spend years working together. These strong personal connections are important for understanding the creations themselves, allowing me to do my job better.

Victor Ekpuk - Works | Pavillon 54 Limited

 Victor Ekpuk ‘Mask Series 2’ (2018)

P54: What excites you most about the African art market, and working in this field?

AM: Learning, evolving, exploring questions and shared histories, and meeting artists with lasting substance and incredible talent—there is an abundance of all of that in the African art market. It is endless. With art, I can never be bored—either when exploring an individual piece I connect with or with creations at large. Art is a mirror, and it fascinates me to see what is revealed in a moment and how more reveals itself with time. Contemporary artists remind us of where we are, including our shortcomings and our most sacred parts. They invite us to do better.

Maliza Kiasuwa, Brown Skin 1, 2021 | Pavillon 54 Limited

Maliza Kiasuwa ‘Brown Skin 1’ (2021)

P54: What are some of Morton Fine Art’s greatest moments or achievements?

AM: First and foremost, I am proud to have such outstanding artist partners who center substantive concepts and demonstrate a mastery of medium. The artists I work with are thoughtful, tremendous and have so much to say and share! The backbone of the gallery is our partnership, as is our shared trust in each other. It is fascinating to see organic shifts and developments in their artwork and art practice, knowing their growth informs new iterations of brilliance. It is also very rewarding to witness their points of public-facing recognition, including in national and international museums and publications. 

Meron Engida - Works | Pavillon 54 Limited

Meron Engida ‘Solidarity 9’ (2020)

AM: I am personally proud of the warm vibe of the space and the maturity of conversations and experiences shared here through art. This is a gallery for everyone to explore, regardless of experience or exposure to art.  Authenticity is valued as are questions and feelings, even when layered.  In many ways it has the intimacy and hominess of a salon, and that facilitates connection with artists, collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787

info@mortonfineart.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

WAYNE THIEBAUD | Manetti Shrem Museum | VONN CUMMINGS SUMNER in Hyperallergic

14 Jul

Explore Wayne Thiebaud’s Evolving Influence at the Manetti Shrem Museum

The new exhibition Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation celebrates the UC Davis professor’s legacy at work today.Manetti Shrem Museumby Manetti Shrem Museum

Vonn Cummings Sumner, “Watching a Dumpster Fire” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 14 3/4 x 16 x 1 inches (image courtesy the artist © Vonn Sumner)

The profound influence of longtime UC Davis art professor Wayne Thiebaud on a new generation of contemporary artists is the focus of a multi-faceted exhibition currently on view at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, at the University of California, Davis.

The professor emeritus, who turned 100 in November 2020, first joined the university’s fledgling art department in 1959. Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation explores how Thiebaud forecast the future of painting through his personal journey to find meaning and reinvention in the medium’s history — and inspired his students to do the same. “He found his voice at a very volatile time in the art world,” said Manetti Shrem Founding Director Rachel Teagle. “Painting as a medium and practice was dead. Wayne championed a new path forward.” 

Think of this group exhibition as Thiebaud’s classroom operating across time and place, where works of art reverberate with the flow of shared ideas. 19 exhibiting artists reflect the breadth of Thiebaud’s influence and honor his dedication to practicing the fundamentals; his penchant to paint the people, places, and objects of daily life; and his passion for looking to the history of art as a source of inspiration. 

Andrea Bowers, Robert Colescott, Alex Israel, Jason Stopa, Jonas Wood, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye are featured alongside 13 mid- and late-career artists who studied with Thiebaud in the classroom and independently: Julie Bozzi, Christopher Brown, Gene Cooper, Richard Crozier, April Glory Funcke, Fredric Hope, Grace Munakata, Bruce Nauman, Vonn Cummings Sumner, Ann Harrold Taylor, Michael Tompkins, Clay Vorhes, and Patricia Wall.

Together these artists chart an alternate course of how painting makes meaning in the 21st century. 

On view through November 12, 2021. Book a timed ticket to visit or experience the exhibition through its digital companion website at manettishrem.org.

Available Artwork by VONN CUMMINGS SUMNER

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

MERON ENGIDA in ZO mag’ by Roger Calme

2 Jul

https://zoes.fr/

PEINTUREPublié le 30 juin 2021Laisser un commentaire

Ethiopie / Peinture / Meron Engida  / LA MERE, L’ENFANT ET LES OISEAUX

écrit par Roger Calme

Avant de commencer une journée,  jeter un oeil sur une chose apaisante. Pourquoi ne pas fonctionner de cette façon ? Il ne s’agit pas d’un exercice thérapeutique mais d’une fenêtre ouverte qui change l’air de la pièce et dissipe les toxines. Souvent la peinture de Meron Engida agit de cette façon. On regarde, on observe ces visages aux grands yeux, ces lèvres posées sur des mots tranquilles. Parfois des femmes se retrouvent et s’assoient ensemble sur une natte. Ça s’appelle « Solidarité », et ça résume parfaitement la philosophie de l’artiste.

Leurs langues et les coutumes diffèrent mais leur entente est parfaite. 

« Les enfants et les agneaux sont le vocabulaire visuel que j’utilise pour exprimer mon innocence et mon pardon. J’ai l’intention de créer un dialogue sur la diversité et les femmes.Mon envie est d’écouter leurs expériences, de libérer des mots, qui apportent le réconfort, l’empathie, la curiosité de l’autre. »  Sa dernière série s’inscrit donc tout entière dans cet esprit. Ces femmes assises représentent toutes les tribus de l’Ethiopie. Leurs langues et les coutumes diffèrent mais leur entente est parfaite. 

Dans cette galerie paisible, la famille est une vertu inébranlable, que la peintre associe aux ocres, aux terres de sienne, dans une lumière transversale et des teintures de tissus. « C’est une célébration d’humanité », que la toile diffuse. Il est huit heures du matin. La journée vient juste de commencer. On regarde la toile, on regarde la fenêtre ouverte et les arbres remplis d’oiseaux. 

RC (ZO mag’)
Photos Morton Fine Art et M. Engida
https://www.mortonfineart.com/artists

LISA MYERS BULMASH, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Ona “Oney” Judge and Mount Vernon

29 Jun

Inspired by historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s book “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge”, Seattle-based artist LISA MYERS BULMASH created her collage series “Manticore and the Mermaid” centering on the self-liberation of Ona Judge in 1796, an enslaved woman who escaped from George and Martha Washington and was never caught.

Scanned by Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction, LLC.

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

Scanned by Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction, LLC.

LISA MYERS BULMASH, Tell Her Things Will Be Different, 2021, 36″x48″, mixed media collage on paper

Congratulations to Dr. Dunbar and the fifth graders at Laurel Ridge Elementary School in Fairfax, VA who nominated Ona Judge to be honored with a historical marker near Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia. The marker was recently unveiled on Juneteenth, Saturday, June 19, 2021. Ona Judge’s historical marker is the first historical marker in Fairfax County about a Black man or Black woman, and the third about women at all.

Ona “Oney” Judge’s Historical Marker outside of Mount Vernon in Alexandria, VA. Unveiled Juneteenth, June 19, 2021

Available Artwork by LISA MYERS BULMASH

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787 (call or text)

info@mortonfineart.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in Nation and allAfrica

28 Jun

Kenya: Artist Takes Pride in Her Ancestry

By Margaretta Wa Gacheru

Having transformed a hay-filled barn into a giant home studio, Malisa Kiasuwa has been working throughout the Covid-19 lockdown preparing for two exhibitions currently underway overseas. One is in Washington, DC, while the other is in London.

Both sharing the theme, The Pride of Origins, the Naivasha-based Malisa has previously exhibited in Nairobi at Circle Art Gallery and at Alliance Francaise. But Amy Morton of the Morton Fine Art Gallery in Washington found Malisa on Instagram, the social medium currently accommodating many local fine artists.

Nonetheless, while visiting Kenya in 2019, Morton found her way to Circle Art where she got an even better impression of Malisa’s organically-based artistry.

“Amy was and still is interested in featuring contemporary African art at her gallery, which is how she got to know me,” says the Belgian-Congolese artist whose 21 collages and wall hangings featured in her first solo show in DC from June 2to 22.

Soulful spotlight

Meanwhile, another 16 of Malisa’s collages are featuring now at the Sulger-Buel Gallery in London, where the artist has set her soulful spotlight on not just the Pride of Origins but specifically on the notion of ancestry.

Malisa works with an array of mixed media, including organic materials like raffia grass, sisal rope, handmade papers, scraps of fabric, and threads made out of cotton and silk, silver and gold. She blends them with found objects that she collects during her frequent walks around the lake and Naivasha town.

The upcycling of found objects appeal to the artist’s concern for conservation. Her use of organic materials reflects her desire to stay close to the purity of nature. But during the lockdown, Malisa reflected upon all the many clashing contradictions festering in the world, including the ‘virus of racism’ and the coronavirus, the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of white supremacy.

An example of reconciliation

She desires to see the reconciliation of these extremes, a coming together of disparate elements in the name of peace.

“I see myself as an example of reconciliation since my background is both European and African,” says Malisa.

In a sense, both exhibitions are about Identity, reconciliation, and ‘the pride of origins’. These themes are symbolised most visibly in her London show where she includes collages that combine engraved portraits of 18th-century European aristocrats upon whose faces Malisa has affixed wooden West African masks (the kind that enthralled Western artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse).

“I found the engravings of my [Swiss] husband’s ancestors in an attic of his family’s home,” says Malisa who saw the etchings had been forgotten, so she brought them back to Kenya where she and her family have been living since 2013.

Treating them like the other ‘found objects’ that she uses to upcycle into her art, the masks superimposed on the faces of these bourgeois white men are meant to symbolize what reconciliation might look like. Yet the juxtaposition of the two-dimensional etchings and the three-dimensional masks could also be interpreted in other ways, either to amuse or to annoy.

There’s an irony of her embellishing the men’s portraits with African masks which had once been used in sacred rituals and infused with mystical powers. At the same time, Western aristocrats are not the only ‘nobility’ in the London show.

Malisa herself comes from West African nobility. “My father’s ‘tribe’ is Ndongo, the same one as Queen Zinga [or Nzinga] of Congo,” she recalls. Noting that Zinga was renowned for her military and diplomatic leadership which is credited for fending off Portuguese colonialism and slave trade for over 30 years.

Zinga is often identified as coming from Angola, but Malisa explains the Ndongo kingdom, before the colonial carving up of Africa in the 19th century, traversed northern Angola as well as southern Congo.

“Our people had lived on the border of what is now Congo,” says Malisa, adding that she wants her children to take pride in their shared ancestry.

In both exhibitions, there is at least one explicitly autobiographic collage featuring a mug shot of the artist wearing a crown, either made of hand-made paper or animal skin. As if enthroned in her exhibition just as Queen Zinga headed her vast kingdom, the letter ‘Z’ is emblazoned on each crown, standing at once for Zinga and for Zaire, which was the name of her country at the time that she was born.

Read the original article on Nation.

Available artwork by MALIZA KIASUWA

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001 USA

http://www.mortonfineart.com

info@mortonfineart.com

+001 (202) 628-2787 (call or text)

MARIO ANDRES ROBINSON’s “A Brush with Time” at The Paul R. Jones Museum

24 Jun

Preview | Mario Andres Robinson’s examination of the human condition

Preview+%7C+Mario+Andres+Robinson%E2%80%99s+examination+of+the+human+condition

Courtesy of Daniel White

Joseph Arnold, Contributing Writer
June 23, 2021

What: “Mario Andres Robinson: A Brush with Time” 

Who: The exhibition is free and open to the public 

When: May 7 to July 30 during museum hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: The Paul R. Jones Museum

The exhibition marks the first time Mario Andres Robinson — an American painter, pastelist and draftsman — has displayed his work for the Alabama public. 

Daniel White, the museum’s director, said that Robinson is a highly regarded artist in the Northeast. With this exhibition, he wanted to introduce Robinson to the Southeast region. 

“This is his first solo show in Alabama, so I felt like it was an important moment because his work fits the kind of work that we exhibit here at the Jones Museum,” White said. 

Inspired by painters like RembrandtThomas Eakins and Andrew Wyeth, Robinson incorporates aspects of realism into his works of watercolor and graphite, capturing minute yet powerful moments in daily life. Every piece is rendered in such a way that the viewer must stop and consider the meaning behind each detailed backdrop and set of lifelike eyes.

White said the museum is happy to showcase Robinson’s work because it can intrigue the public,  impact the local conversation about art and inspire UA art students. 

“The thing about Mario’s work and why it’s important is that he is one of the most well-regarded watercolor artists working today in America,” White said. “He’s won many awards. He has his own book out. He’s just an accomplished artist.”

White said seeing the work of an accomplished artist like Robinson could inspire UA art students to make careers out of their craft. 

Though this is Robinson’s first solo exhibition in Alabama, it is not the first time he has created art in the state. 

“It could easily be said that it’s a homecoming of sorts,” Robinson said. “My professional art career began in 1994 while spending two years in Huntsville, drawing and painting portraits of local subjects. I’m honored to share my work with the great citizens of Alabama.” 

Robinson said he is honored to showcase his work at the Paul R. Jones Museum and grateful to White “for working with me every step of the way and gently guiding my decisions.”

According to Robinson, who recently returned to Alabama after moving to New Jersey as a young boy, the works selected for the exhibition are deeply personal. 

“Prior to moving back to New Jersey, I developed a working relationship with my first model, named Kenyatta ‘Plum’ Johnson. The most cherished work in the exhibition is a working study of Plum, which dates back to 2001. The works in the show were carefully chosen from my personal collection,” Robinson said. 

Robinson said he hopes Alabamians will understand that his work is centered around the human condition.

“It’s my hope that the viewers of ‘A Brush with Time’ sense the love and affection I have for the people and places I portray in my work. The coastal towns of Point Pleasant Beach and Keyport, New Jersey, have defined my adolescence and adulthood,” Robinson said. “The backdrops in the works offer a glimpse into my world. In the end, the universal theme of my work is the human condition.”

Available Artwork by MARIO ANDRES ROBINSON

AMBER ROBLES GORDON’s “Successions: Traversing US Colonialism” at American University

22 Jun

202-885-1300

museum@american.edu

Tues – Sun, 11 a.m – 4 p.m.
Closed Monday
Free admission

Media Inquiries:
AU Communications
aumedia@american.edu
202-885-5950

Successions: Traversing US Colonialism

Amber Robles-Gordon

Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah
August 29–December 12, 2021

Eternal Altar

The eternal altar for the women forsaken and souls relinquished. Yet the choice must always remain hers. El altar eterno de las mujeres abandonadas y las almas renunciadas. Sin embargo, la elección siempre debe ser de ella., 2020. Mixed media collage on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Amber Robles-Gordon presents Successions: Traversing US Colonialism, a solo exhibition on view at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in fall 2021. Successions is a conceptual juxtaposition that celebrates abstraction as an art form while leveraging it as a tool to interrogate past and current US policies within its federal district (Washington, DC) and territories (including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) that it controlsByhighlighting nuances related to US governance in its federal districts and territories, Robles-Gordon seeks to question who has access to resources, citizenship, and the right to sovereignty.

Robles-Gordon creates artwork imbued with a layered visual language replete with cultural signifiers and abstract gestures. Successions is a celebration of abstraction as an artistic expression. Robles-Gordon utilizes iconic artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Alma Thomas, Romare Bearden, and members of the Washington Color School as vivid reference points for her own dynamic use of color, form, and material within the works she created for the exhibition. These explorations will provide insights into a number of inquiries that undergird the construction of the exhibition. Successions creates a pathway towards discursive criticism around issues impacting marginalized communities oppressed by the United States’ hegemonic domestic and foreign policies. The exhibition features a new body of colorful abstract paintings, collages, and quilts created in 2020 and 2021 between San Juan, Puerto Rico (Robles-Gordon’s birthplace) and Washington, DC (where she currently lives).

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robles-Gordon’s creative strategies were directly impacted as a result of sheltering in place in San Juan. The lack of access to materials and arduous circumstances she was confronted with in Puerto Rico and upon returning to Washington, DC catalyzed Robles-Gordon to improvise her approach to making works for the exhibition. Moreover, the experience heightened her awareness of how communities on the margin are adversely treated during moments of crisis.

Robles-Gordon’s also uses works featured in Successions to mine the stories, personal narratives, and aesthetics of the women of the Caribbean, particularly of African descent in an effort to investigate the political, socio-economic, and environmental implications of placemaking, contemporary colonial policy, and notions of citizenship on these social groups. The debate over DC statehood, similar to Puerto Rico, has been a prevalent point of contention in the District but rarely featured in the national conversation. Robles-Gordon seeks to use her “backyard” as a metaphor that would expand our understanding of notions of freedom, liberty, and justice.

A fully illustrated catalog with essays by Ossei-Mensah and Noel Anderson and in-person and virtual programs will accompany the exhibition, enriching the viewer’s experience.

y mi bandara

y mi bandera vuela mas alto que la tuya, 2020. Mixed media collage on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Reflexiones

Reflexiones sobre el yo, la virgen maría y el colonialismo, 2020. Mixed media, collage on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist.

USVI Political

USVI Political, 2021. Front. Mixed media on quilt, 73 x 78 in. Courtesy of the artist.

DC Political Welcome to the District of Colonialism

DC Political, Welcome to the District of Colonialism, 2021. Front. Mixed media on quilt, 73 x 78 in. Courtesy of the artist.

USVI Spiritual Moko Jumbie

USVI Spiritual, Back, Moko Jumbie: Walk Tall and Heal Forward, 2021. Mixed media on quilt, 73 x 78 in. Courtesy of the artist.

sketch collage

Sketches done throughout residency in Puerto Rico, 2019-20.

Works in Robles-Gordon's studio

Works in Robles-Gordon’s studio.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Amber Robles-Gordon is a mixed media visual artist of Puerto Rican and West Indian heritage. She is known for her commissioned temporary and permanent public art installations for numerous government agencies, institutions, universities, and art fairs.

Robles-Gordon has over twenty years of experience exhibiting and in art education, commissioned critiques, lectures, teaching, and exhibition coordination. She received a BS in business administration from Trinity University and an MFA in painting from Howard University, Washington, DC. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including Germany, Italy, Malaysia, England, and Spain. Robles-Gordon has participated in residencies in Costa Rica, Washington, DC, and at the American Academy in Rome, Italy. Her artwork has been reviewed and featured in numerous magazines, journals, newspapers, and online publications.

Most recently, she held an online solo exhibition at Galeria de Arte, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was featured by Tafeta Gallery in the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, England, and during London Art Week. In 2022, she will create a traveling exhibition in collaboration with Cultural DC and El Cuadrado Gris Galeria in Puerto Rico.    

ABOUT THE CURATOR

Larry Ossei-Mensah uses contemporary art as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. A Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic, Ossei-Mensah has organized exhibitions and programs at commercial and nonprofit spaces around the globe from New York City to Rome, featuring artists including Firelei Baez, Allison Janae Hamilton, Brendan Fernades, Ebony G. Patterson, Modou Dieng, Glenn Kaino, Joiri Minaya and Stanley Whitney. Moreover, Ossei-Mensah has actively documented cultural happenings featuring the most dynamic visual artists working today, including Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Federico Solmi, and Kehinde Wiley.

A native of The Bronx, Ossei-Mensah is also the co-founder of ARTNOIR, a 501(c)(3) and global collective of culturalists who design multimodal experiences aimed to engage this generation’s dynamic and diverse creative class. ARTNOIR endeavors to celebrate the artistry and creativity of Black and Brown artists around the world via virtual and in-person experiences. Ossei-Mensah was a contributor to the first-ever Ghanaian Pavilion for the 2019 Venice Biennial with an essay on the work of visual artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

Ossei-Mensah is the former Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at MOCAD in Detroit and currently serves as Curator-at-Large at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where he curated the New York Times heralded exhibition Let Free Ring and A Return: Liberation as Power respectively.       

Ossei-Mensah has been profiled in publications including the New York Times, Artsy, and Cultured Magazine, and was recently named to Artnet’s 2020 Innovator List. Follow him on Instagram at @larryosseimensah and Twitter at @youngglobal.

MALIZA KIASUWA featured in See Great Art

9 Jun

ART IN THE NORTHEASTBLACK ARTISTSFEMALE ARTISTS

Maliza Kiasuwa at Morton Fine Art

BY CHADD SCOTT

POSTED ON 

Maliza Kiasuwa, A Little Red, 2021 Collage, thread and Washi paper 18 x 14 in Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art

Morton Fine Art (52 O Street NW #302, Washington, D.C.) presents a solo exhibition of new mixed-media works by Kenya-based visual artist Maliza Kiasuwa. Featuring twenty-one works by the artist, “Pride of Origins” recreates the precarious and ever-evolving equilibrium between the handmade and the manufactured through the juxtaposition of material.

Underscoring the cultural and commercial exchange between continents, Kiasuwa’s technically masterful works explore the ironies of post-colonial politics and invent new futures through imbrication, embroidery, and the combination of heterogenous objects. “Pride of Origins” will be on view through June 30, 2021.

Kiasuwa’s constructions are deeply rooted in the cultural, social, and political context of Kenya, but more generally, of Africa and the world. Combining handmade materials from Japan with found objects from around her farm on Lake Naivasha, in the heart of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, Kiasuwa embraces her chosen material’s earlier character and vocabulary, but transfigures their context by sewing, stitching and mending to produce unexpected narratives and representations of society, events, and global issues.

As a visual artist of European and African descent, Kiasuwa brings a panoptic perspective to her border-crossing work, which regards the coexistence of two worlds as an endless source of inspiration, and a potential space for reconciliation.

“My sculptures and collages are made of bits and pieces that I collect during my daily expeditions: cotton threads, handmade ropes made of straw or rubber, plastic bags stranded on the lakeshore,” Kiasuwa said. “These materials are representative of culture and history in the context of the global flow of goods, especially in terms of how their utility values shift over time. Sometimes I combine local materials with handmade fabrics such as Japanese Washi paper. I like to blend materials which don’t belong together.”

Presenting all new work from 2021, “Pride of Origins” unveils recent developments in Kiasuwa’s practice, which is an ongoing examination of her identity as a woman of both African and European descent, scrutinizing the meaning of duality and otherness. The very distinct, but sometimes rival, traditions of local culture and the Church similarly ungird the artist’s exploration of a “double belonging.”

“Pride of Origin” honors the raw, natural beauty of the artist’s environment, while also challenging assumptions of value in material culture to highlight the interconnectedness of the post-colonial landscape and its inheritance of consumer society.

ABOUT MALIZA KIASUWA

Maliza Kiasuwa, born in 1975, lives and works in Kenya. She creates works with stimulating and eclectic elements celebrating Africa’s mystic power of nature by using raw materials and traditional symbols of energy that flow through the veins of the continent. She transforms everyday articles by combining reductive methods of shredding and twisting with constructive processes of tying, weaving, stitching and dyeing. The process is fluid, focused and becomes a meditation.

Maliza Kiasuwa has exhibited in Kenya, Switzerland, Italy, England and the United States. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2021.

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.

Hours: By Appointment Only. Mask Required.