Tag Archives: Nathaniel Donnett


10 Oct

MCLA Arts & Culture to Showcase To Know a Veil Exhibition

08:51AM / Thursday, October 06, 2022Print Story | Email Story

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — MCLA Arts & Culture (MAC) will showcase a new solo exhibition at Gallery 51, “To Know A Veil” by Nathaniel Donnett on October 7.  

The opening reception will run from 5 to 7 p.m. and the exhibition will be on display until Jan. 27, 2023.  

To Know A Veil consists of wall works, sculptures, an installation, and sounds that investigate concerns about fragmentation, memory, erasure, the self, and interiority. The exhibition borrows its title from W. E. B. Du Bois’s classic book The Souls of Black Folk. In that work, the Veil signifies racism and the accompanying moral perception of Black America. Donnett also draws on Fred Moten’s notion of enclosure—a psychological entrapment caused by social precarity. In the context of this exhibition, Donnett questions how individuals navigate enclosures that frame groups of people as reductive, noncomplex categories instead of plural, complex beings.

During the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Artist Lab Residency, Donnett invited students from Berkshire County’s Pine Cobble School, Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School, and MCLA to participate in this exhibition. They collaborated on a backpack exchange during which the students were given new backpacks in exchange for their old bags. The students also recorded interviews with Donnett that he then used to create an experimental sound piece. 

To Know A Veil communicates the power of imagination as an intermediary, catalyst, and portal that occupies spaces between being and becoming, continuously challenging modern-day ideologies, which stem from our past and impact our future. There is no definitive beginning or end when imagining possibilities, complex positions, or solutions—only human conditions embedded between moments of learning, reflecting, and doing. 

Donnett is an interdisciplinary cultural practitioner born in Houston, Texas. His practice holds metaphysical and phenomenological spaces that explore space/time, history, notions of being, the in/exterior, and race. Black aesthetic traditions, music, refusal, fractal theory, incompleteness, and sacred geometry are strategies and systems he uses to challenge conventional timeline narratives and Western frameworks.

Donnett fuses immaterial and material worlds to expand the meaning and understanding around sociopolitical concerns and liminal spaces that impact underrepresented people and overlooked conditions. 

Available Artwork by NATHANIEL DONNETT

NATHANIEL DONNETT | Backpack Exchange Project | MCLA Arts and Culture

5 Mar

Artist Brings Backpack Exchange for New Project


 Jillian Currier


March 2, 2022

Nathaniel Donnett, current ART LAB Artist in Residence, is bringing students together with a backpack exchange. Used backpacks given to Donnett will be featured in his new art project.

MCLA Arts and Culture is welcoming Nathaniel Donnett, the current ART LAB Artist in Residence, to bring students together in a backpack exchange. Students participating in the exchange will give up their old backpacks to be used in a unique art piece done by Donnett.

“Generally, when you have a backpack, it’s usually moving along with a body and carrying some kind of information. It also has a history based on the relationship with the person who’s attached to it. That kind of history is attached to the object— the backpack,” Donnett said in an interview with The Beacon.

The backpack exchange not only involves the student’s old backpack to be used in the new 2-D piece, but it also involves a yearbook-style photo of the student as well as quick questions asked by Donnett to help access the past, present, and future regarding the student and the piece itself.

The idea behind using backpacks for these pieces stems from an older project that Donnett worked on in Houston, which involved the idea behind objects as symbols, and the symbolism that something as simple as a backpack can carry. The yearbook-style photos are taken along with the exchange of the backpacks to be used in an archival ‘yearbook’ encapsulating the project and the student’s involvement.

“I thought it would be interesting that the book wouldn’t be something that would just be for me,” Donnett explained. He went on to say that the yearbook would be a way to expand his outreach of the project through the participating students, as well as creating something that the students can look back on.

Donnett focused on backpack exchanges as well in Houston, with the idea of objects being symbols as the driving force. He explained how after once seeing a backpack hung over a fence, it made him realize just how many meanings a simple object could convey.

“This time I wanted to get more activity from the spaces where the students are from, which is why I wanted to go to the schools,” said Donnett. The project in Houston kept the backpacks in one piece, but Donnett wanted to take it further and create something that transforms the backpacks, while also leaving a piece of them behind for the students.

The finished pieces of the backpacks will be on display at Gallery 51 in downtown North Adams at the end of Donnett’s residency with ART LAB, which will open in October of 2022.
Nicholas Rigger, the program coordinator for MAC, explained that all ART LAB Artists in Residence have the opportunity for a solo show at the gallery. The yearbook documenting the students’ experiences and photos for the piece will be archived in the library as well.

As for student’s potential hesitance, Donnett explained that “it’s just something that has to be experienced.” He went on to say that every experience he’s had with a student during the exchange so far has just been fun and eye opening to see students trip up when engaged about their past.

“The idea of just reflecting on some of the questions and thinking about it in a different way is interesting, and to see all these different voices come together in a kind of object is also interesting to find where you are in the piece,” Donnett explained.

“To know that a part of you is now something more, and to gain some sort of perspective…” Rigger said, is why students should be open to this experience and interested in collaborating.

The backpack exchange is available to students in the Campus Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Any student that is interested that is not available during those times or wants to participate after March 1 can visit Gallery 51 or can reach out to either Nathaniel Donnett or Nicholas Rigger.

Available artwork by NATHANIEL DONNETT

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


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

NATHANIEL DONNETT’s “Sub-woofer” public art installation featured in New Haven Independent

26 Aug

Artist Goes Guerrilla Public

by LINDSEY MANCINI | Aug 19, 2021 9:07 am

(3) Comments | Post a Comment | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Arts & CultureVisual Arts

Nathaneil Donnett Photos

From the sidewalk, you might see it from across the street. It looks like it’s supposed to be there, a bit of straightforward wooden fencing that might contain an electrical box or some other public utility.

But if you look closely, you might notice one slat of the fencing is painted a deep blue. If you cross the street, you’ll see the wood is patterned, and that the whole object stands as an entirely different kind of public utility.

Inside the fencing is an altar that celebrates music and the celestial world within — and for — a community

Danielle De Jesus Photo

Nathaniel Donnett, an artist who splits his time between New Haven and Houston (and was part of a group show at City Gallery in May), created the public installation, Sub-woofer, on a Sunday in July.

It now stands in an undisclosed location in New Haven as the start of a public, visual conversation with the community living directly around it.

As the artist described it, “it’s another band member in the group ensemble” that is the public space.

Donnett selected this location because the people living in the neighborhood are mostly working-class Black people. It’s the kind of neighborhood plagued by education and housing issues, while it’s also a target of gentrification.

“These neighborhoods remind me of the neighborhoods I was raised in,” Donnett said, writing to me via email that these neighborhoods contain significant cultural value that often become coopted by institutions. These institutions downplay their complicity in this theft, and fail to give back to the communities that allow them to grow and flourish.

“Those relationships seemed strained or rarely coincide,” Donnett said, “The piece speaks to that complex relationship in a general way.”

The structure of the piece consists of three panels of wooden fencing leaning against one another at their edges. The triangular fence subverts notions of access; that is, you can’t get inside. But through the slats in the panelling, and in a pattern of cut-outs — each containing a pair of tambourine jingles — you can see an installation inside that inaccessible space, made up of records representing some of America’s greatest musicians: Count Basie, Roscoe Robinson, the Jackson 5, Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Louis Armstrong. If you’re tall enough, you can peer over the fence to catch a full view of the records within, but there’s a strong sense of interiority versus exteriority — what’s protected as opposed to what’s visible from afar.

Donnett selected the tambourine jingles that allow for this visual gateway into the piece because of their use in the Southern Black church. In Sub-woofer, they imply sound and movement, bringing rhythm and accent to the familiar, static panelling of the wood.

“I was at a funeral a couple of years ago and noticed that it [the tambourine] was played as a single solo instrument, but the jingles acted as a collective,” Donnett said. “That reminded me how people employ acts of individualism and collective action as not a singular thing, but a multiplicity of actions.”

Since it was a Sunday, the installation of the piece itself was uneventful. Donnett took three visits to the site and an extra trip to the record store, but no one approached him as he worked.

“I think sometimes people can sense your energy,” he said. “They can sense if you’re there to harm or to create problems.” After setting up the piece’s wooden infrastructure, Donnett returned, installing the albums purchased from a local record store on site.

The patterns of the tambourine jingles reference the constellations of stars, employing elements of sacred geometry to create a percussive grid that’s both implemented and disrupted by the viewer’s own expectations of where the next dash of silver will lie.

“The pattern utilizes a visual language where sound is silent,” said Donnett, “and expected based on our personal relationship to sound, socializing of sound, and social agreement.”

The line of blue that signals the piece from afar works almost like a metronome, keeping time. The rich ultramarine reaches back and historically across continents, through Egyptian, Buddhist, and European paintings to the first uses of lapis lazuli about 9,000 years ago in present-day Afghanistan. For Donnett, the color represents both spirituality and humanity, and its implementation here, on a single piece of wood, reveals “the individual amongst many other individuals.”

To the artist, the blue line (almost a Barnett Newman-type “zip”) is especially important “considering the shift in the spatial and symbolic dynamic when approaching the piece,” he said. The color works to translate the object from utilitarian to sculptural, from intellectual to spiritual, from exclusion to invitation, from artist to community and back again, as New Haven discovers it.

Available Artwork by NATHANIEL DONNETT

NATHANIEL DONNETT in VMFA’s “The Dirty South” exhibition. Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver

4 Jun


The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse

MAY 22, 2021 – SEPTEMBER 6, 2021

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, investigates the aesthetic impulses of early 20th-century Black culture that have proved ubiquitous to the southern region of the United States. The exhibition chronicles the pervasive sonic and visual parallels that have served to shape the contemporary landscape, and looks deeply into the frameworks of landscape, religion, and the Black body—deep meditative repositories of thought and expression. Within the visual expression, assemblage, collage, appropriation, and sonic transference are explored as deeply connected to music tradition. The visual expression of the African American South along with the Black sonic culture are overlooked tributaries to the development of art in the United States and serve as interlocutors of American modernism. This exhibition looks to the contributions of artists, academically trained as well as those who were relegated to the margins as “outsiders,” to uncover the foundational aesthetics that gave rise to the shaping of our contemporary expression.

Coronation Theme: Organon, 2008, Nadine Robinson (American, born England, 1968), speakers, sound system, mixed media. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, given by John F. Wieland Jr. in memory of Marion Hill, 2008.175. Image: © Nadine Robinson

Coronation Theme: Organon, 2008, Nadine Robinson (American, born England, 1968), speakers, sound system, mixed media. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, given by John F. Wieland Jr. in memory of Marion Hill, 2008.175. Image: © Nadine Robinson

Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver, VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, the groundbreaking exhibition explores the legacies of traditional southern aesthetics in contemporary culture and features multiple generations of artists working in a variety of genres. Among those featured in the exhibition are Thornton Dial, Allison Janae Hamilton, Arthur Jafa, Jason Moran, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Kara Walker, William Edmondson, and many others. Inherent to this discourse is the rise of southern hip-hop. The exhibition’s presentation of visual and sonic culture looks to contemporary southern hip-hop as a portal into the roots and aesthetic legacies that have long been acknowledged as “Southern” in culture, philosophical thought, and expression.

In addition to the music, the exhibition features the contemporary material culture that emerges in its wake, such as “grillz” worn as body adornment and bodily extensions such as SLAB(s) (an acronym for slow, low and banging). In highlighting the significance of car culture, the museum has commissioned a SLAB by Richard “Fiend” Jones. At its essence, southern car culture, showcases the trajectory of contemporary assemblage often highlighted in southern musical expression. Other such aspects are explored across genres over the course of a century. Beginning in the 1920s with jazz and blues, the exhibition interweaves parallels of visual and sonic culture and highlights each movement with the work of contemporary artists, creating a bridge between what has long been divided between “high” and “low” cultures. The exhibition features commercial videos and personal effects of some of the music industry’s most iconic artists—from Bo Diddley to Cee Lo Green.

From Asterisks in Dockery, 2012, Rodney McMillian (American, born 1969), vinyl, thread, wood, paint, light bulb. Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Image: © Robert Wedemeyer

From Asterisks in Dockery, 2012, Rodney McMillian (American, born 1969), vinyl, thread, wood, paint, light bulb. Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Image: © Robert Wedemeyer

Ultimately, The Dirty South creates a meta-understanding of southern expression—as personified in the visual arts, material culture, and music—as an extension of America’s first conceptual artists, those of African descent. The exhibition traces across time and history, the indelible imprint of this legacy as seen through the visual and sonic culture of today.

Cassel Oliver is also the editor of the companion publication, which will function as an essential reader on Black material and sonic culture and demonstrate its impact on contemporary art from the 1950s to the present. Featuring an anthology of critical essays by scholars such as Fred Moten, Anthony Pinn, Regina Bradley, Rhea Combs, and Guthrie Ramsey, the illustrated catalogue will document works in the exhibition as well as artists’ biographies and a chronology of iconic moments that have shaped the Black presence in the South.

VMFA has also commissioned an LP by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky aka That Subliminal Kid for the exhibition.

NATHANIEL DONNETT, I looked over Jordan and what did I see; a band of angels coming after me, 2019,
reclaimed wood, roof shingles, nails, light source, machete, glass, house paint

NATHANIEL DONNETT, I looked over Jordan and what did I see; a band of angels coming after me, 2019,
reclaimed wood, roof shingles, nails, light source, machete, glass, house paint

Available Artwork by NATHANIEL DONNETT

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston & Nathaniel Donnett’s installation “Acknowledgement: The Historic Polyrhythm of Being(s)”

29 Jul



Nathaniel Donnett | Acknowledgement: The Historic Polyrhythm of Being(s)

July 23, 2020 – August 31, 2020
CAMH presents Acknowledgement: The Historic Polyrhythm of Being(s), a newly commissioned public art installation by Houston-based artist Nathaniel Donnett, as part of the Museum’s new Beyond CAMH initiative series.

The community-engaging work is located upon more than 120 feet of construction fencing surrounding the Museum’s front lawn during its ongoing capital campaign renovations. Initiated through a backpack exchange with the youth of Houston’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth Wards, the text- and object-based artwork acknowledges and reflects the importance of history, education, family, and visibility in these communities and Black American social life. The work will remain on view—day and night—through August 31, 2020.

Acknowledgement: The Historic Polyrhythm of Being(s) sets an important precedent by including youth as an integral part of the public art process through direct collaboration with community organizations, including S.H.A.P.E. Community CenterChange Happens!Lindsay GaryJack Yates High School, and Kashmere Gardens Elementary. For Donnett, this project engages the youth’s Untitled image courtesy the artistsocial imagination by uplifting everyday objects as material for the artwork, and the exchange as a gesture of human kindness. The exchange seeks to inspire youth around the value of education, through the gift of a new backpack and by highlighting the inner resources and strength of Houston’s Black community. The multi-faceted nature of this artwork emphasizes the power of direct action and social exchange.

The artwork comprises a 120-foot pre-existing fence, upon which is printed imagined words and phrases common to the aforementioned neighborhoods, and a series of backpacks mounted on the fence. Some of the backpacks contain photographs taken by the artist and objects collected from these three neighborhoods, which reference Nkisi power figures of the Congo and the notion of being both present and not present at the same time. At night, the backpacks are illuminated with lights that continuously pulse in Morse code, the phrase “A Love Supreme” from the John Coltrane song “Acknowledgement,” an excerpt from a James Baldwin’s essay “The Uses of the Blues,” and a verse from the song “Mad” by singer-songwriter Solange.

While CAMH remains closed for construction and COVID-19 precautions, Donnett’s work provides a source of community-based art in keeping with the Museum’s mission to present extraordinary, thought-provoking arts programming and exhibitions to educate and inspire audiences nationally and internationally.

NATHANIEL DONNETT’s “Acknowledgement: The Historic Polyrhythm of Being(s)” installation at Contemporary Art Museum Houston

24 Jul

A Houston artist sends a coded message with his new work for CAMH
Nathaniel Donnett has filled the construction walls around the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston with backpacks that contain photographs, found objects and lights that blink in Morse code.

Molly Glentzer July 23, 2020

Updated: July 24, 2020, 11:19 am

A detail of Nathaniel Donnett’s “Acknowledgement: The Historic Polyrhythm of Being(s),” a public artwork made with LED lights, photographs and the used backpacks of youth in Third, Fourth and Fifth Wards, installed along 120 feet of construction fencing around the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston  Photo: Andrew Buckler / Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

People passing by Contemporary Arts Museum Houston have an eyeful right now with Nathaniel Donnett’s engaging and challenging new public art installation.

“Acknowledgement: The Historic Polyrhythm of Being(s)” occupies 120 feet of construction fence around the building, which is being renovated.

During the day, a long, unbroken line of block letters may spin heads first. They’re a tight mashup of imagined words and phrases common to residents of the city’s Third, Fourth and Fifth Ward neighborhoods. You might have to study it a while to break them apart, but the string becomes a kind of stream-of-consciousness chant: “PSYCHOSLABACKNOWLEDGMAYNEHOLUPBLACKSPATIALISTIC.”

Dozens backpacks hung on the fence bookend the sign, glowing and blinking mysteriously at night. The lights convey a message too — in Morse code.

Donnett’s commission both dresses up the construction site and launches Beyond CAMH, a museum initiative to create community-based work that positions artists as change-makers in society. He gathered some of his materials by collaborating with youth from Jack Yates High School, Kashmere Gardens Elementary, the Re-Education Project, SHAPE Community Center and Change Happens! Through those schools and organizations, dozens of students from Third, Fourth and Fifth Wards traded in their old backpacks for new ones.

The exchanges took place outside the museum during some of this summer’s hottest days, when the temperature was at 100 degrees or more. Donnett, his team and the participants wore masks, and he sanitized all the backpacks as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

He filled the old backpacks with LED lights. Some also hold photographs taken by the artist and objects collected from the neighborhoods that reference Congolese Nkisi power figures and ideas about being simultaneously present and absent. Through Morse code, the LEDs pulse out culturally significant lyrics and text: The phrase “Love Supreme” from John Coltrane’s composition “Acknowledgement,” an excerpt from James Baldwin’s essay “The Uses of the Blues” and a verse from Solange’s song “Mad.”

All that may be useful information, but a viewer doesn’t have to decipher any of it to be pulled in. It’s kind of a shame there isn’t a bench across the street where people could just sit and contemplate it for a while. Although the constant, frenetic movement around the fence — cars, walkers and bikers coming and going wherever they are going — seems fitting.

‘Movement and displacement’
“Acknowledgement” is partly informed by the writer and philosopher Fred Moten’s ideas about “fugitive blackness.” African Americans have had to navigate their environment for centuries, since they first arrived in the U.S. as slaves, Donnett explains. “There’s always movement and displacement.”

The families of Third, Fourth and Fifth Wards have experienced gentrification, cultural erasure, income disparities and unjust state and municipal policies. Yet this is no victim’s wall. Donnett’s work expresses power in many forms — the power of direct action, social exchange, language, and the strength and resources of Houston’s Black community.

“It is about memory and history but also about collective exchange, and the use of a type of familiar language and transformation,” he says. “And lastly, everyday aesthetics and Black social life.” The word ‘Being(s)’ in the installation’s title is important, he adds, because “now is a time where people limit Blackness to one thing or another and not the multiple of a being.”

On HoustonChronicle.com: ‘Soul of a Nation’ at MFAH

Donnett is no stranger to works this complex. His 2008 installation at Project Row Houses incorporated a book exchange for Ryan Middle School, and he organized a 2015 project in Milwaukee that involved people of all ages. “Acknowledgement” is the first to reach across three neighborhoods, although he knows them well. Donnett grew up in Third Ward and has always had relatives in Fourth and Fifth Wards.

“Acknowledgement” is a piece of a larger pie, rolled into other work he is producing through a 2020 Dean’s Critical Practice Research Grant from Yale University, where he is a 2021 MFA candidate, and a 2020 Art and Social Justice Initiative Grant.

The Beyond CAMH initiative has another dimension, too.

A ‘vocal portrait’
Unrelated to Donnett’s piece, the museum has opened up a phone line to help create a Houston edition of Texas-born artist their native languages. Anyone can participate by calling 281-248-8730 or visiting camh.org/beyond. A separate time-lapse video to document the work’s evolution will feature people who participated during the project’s first 100 days (through Nov. 2).

Ekene Ijeoma’s national project “A Counting.” That one aims to gather a “vocal portrait” of the city and address the under-counting of marginalized communities in the U.S. census.

Ijeoma, who founded the group Poetic Justice at Boston’s MIT Media Lab, is gathering the voices of Houstonians as they count to 100 in “A Counting” is “a meditation on what a truly united country would sound like,” Ijeoma says. “Houston has reached majority-minority status ahead of the curve across the country.”

CAMH director Hesse McGraw hopes Beyond CAMH will help the museum reach new audiences, embrace “unexpected contexts” and directly impact civic life. While the museum’s doors remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, “we’ve had time to think,” he says.

“To be quarantined and disconnected from daily, in-person contact with artists and audience is disorienting for a museum that exists solely for that purpose. Yet … we’re working to reimagine the ethic and practice of a more porous museum — one that spills onto the street, engages in long-term collaborations with artists, meets audiences where they are and serves our communities’ most urgent needs.”


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NATHANIEL DONNETT’s artwork on view at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

16 Mar

Child’s Play: An Exploration of Adolescence

Friday, March 1, 2019 to Sunday, August 4, 2019
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Child’s Play: An Exploration of Adolescence situates contemporary works of art from Kemper Museum’s Permanent Collection in conversation with concepts brought forth by neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (Austrian, 1856–1939). Freud suggested that humans can trace their compulsions back to their childhood. From this idea, Child’s Play explores artists’ depictions of children, their relationships with those around them, and with the world.

Artists Nathaniel Donnett and Nicholas Prior see Freud as inspiration for their projects. Using the scene of a playground as the setting for his collage work Freudianslipslideintodarkisms (2011), Donnett illuminates how childhood memories and experiences may directly inform our identities in adulthood. Prior’s Untitled #46 (2004) and Untitled #26 (2005) are based on Freud’s notion that an adult cannot accurately access memories of childhood in the way they were originally experienced.

Artists in this exhibition depict children’s experiences from varying perspectives that then reflect back on the world. In her photographic work, Julie Blackmon shows real and imagined aspects of her family life by capturing moments when children are crying, revealing a sense of a hectic home environment. Arthur Tress overlays images of children with images of games, school, and activities, again suggesting the Freudian concept that his adult self cannot accurately remember the feelings he originally felt as a child. Artist Kojo Griffin relies on his child psychology training to highlight relationships of children while possibly referencing Freud’s concept of “doubling”—self-love and narcissism found in children—inUntitled (2000).

Child’s Play links the arts and social sciences to engage viewers in the different ways artists depict childhood. Child’s Play: An Exploration of Adolescence is curated by Jade Powers, assistant curator at Kemper Museum.

Morton Fine Art invites you to join us for an unveiling of new and major artworks at Gallery B in Bethesda this March

9 Mar




Spring 2019 Survey of Select Morton Fine Art Artists

March 6 – March 30th, 2019

Opening Reception

Friday, March 8th from 6-8pm



Gallery B

7700 Wisconsin Ave, Ste E

Bethesda, MD 20814



Wednesday – Saturday 12pm – 6pm


Want to view artwork in DC? Come by our permanent gallery space:


Morton Fine Art

52 O St NW #302

Washington, DC 20001

Hours: Wed – Sat 12pm-5pm and Sun-Tues by appointment


Please also view our exhibition “Starshine and Clay” featuring the artwork of KESHA BRUCE, MAYA FREELON and AMBER ROBLES-GORDON at Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA through March 31st, 2019.


Workhouse Arts Center

2nd Floor – McGuireWoods Gallery

9518 Workhouse Road

Lorton, VA 22079

Hours: Wed – Sat 11am-6pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm


About Morton Fine Art  

Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC, 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 anyone can become an art collector or enthusiast, 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.

Redefining the traditional gallery model, Morton Fine Art (MFA) replaces a single gallery space with two locations: MFA’s permanent fine art gallery space and *a pop-up project, a temporary mobile art galleryof curated group shows.  Morton Fine Art established it’s trademark, *a pop-up project, in 2010.






























Preview of Morton Fine Art’s Booth at Prizm Art Fair in Miami

29 Nov



Sneak Preview of Morton Fine Art’s Booth at Prizm Art Fair in Miami
Contact the gallery for complimentary passes.
Morton Fine Art will be closed 12/5-12/8 during our time in Miami, however we are available by phone (202) 628-2787 or mortonfineart@gmail.com if you need to reach us!
I explore the light sheen of graphite, the matte, light absorbing quality of black pastel, the white of paper and canvas, as well as the visually affecting interactions of colors to investigate form and its evocative potential to suggest or hint at something about the shape of the head. I am interested in the dualism of form and void, and the ontological relation between the tangible and intangible, something and nothing, light and dark, body and mind, the dual nature of being – the self in portraits.
The construction of a sense of self is a very complex process, perhaps even more so in our increasingly global age, in which the boundaries between race, nationality, gender and sexuality are getting more and more blurred. I am interested in issues of self identity, and in concepts of the self rooted in my cultural experiences growing up in Nigeria, as well as global metaphysical, scientific, and social concepts of the self. There is a Yoruba thought that consciousness, referred to as the “head”, has both a physical dimension called the “outer head” and a non-physical one: “the inner head”. It is the visual implications of concepts like this that I find intriguing. The title, Self-Portrait, in my work, is more about the portrait of the intangible self, rather than a literal portrait of the artist. – OSI AUDU
Smithsonian Museum of African Art
The Newark Museum
The British Museum
Horniman Museum
Wellcome Trust Gallery
OSI AUDU, Self-Portrait after Dogon Bird Mask II, 2018, 15″x22″, graphite and pastel on paper mounted on canvas
OSI AUDU, Self Portrait after Igbo Mask, 2018, 11″x15″, acrylic on canvas
KESHA BRUCE, The Sky Opened for Her, 2016, 60″x48″, mixed media on canvas
KESHA BRUCE, Fight Fire with Fire, 2017, 40″x30″, mixed media on canvas
Artwork is spiritwork.
When I pray, I ask my ancestors for the bravery to follow and make manifest the deepest truths and longings of my heart. Every artwork I create is an answered prayer.
In this current political and social moment my prayers are especially urgent: Where can Black women feel safe? Where can we feel free? How do we protect our spirits from those who mean to destroy us?
As an artist, these questions always lead me back to my work.  In my experience, the most powerful weapon for spiritual warfare is joy. I’m not being hyperbolic when I tell you that the process of making artwork has saved my life many, many times. Art is a refuge for the spirit. It offers us a way to understand and heal ourselves. I am of the mind that something absolutely prophetic can be revealed in both the act of making and the act of looking at art.
Art objects embody spiritual power.
I believe this so firmly now, that it seems almost surreal to think back to a time, not so long ago, when I was afraid to speak about my work in spiritual terms for fear of being called less serious or less intellectually rigorous. It’s clear to me now that often our fears show us the parts of ourselves that are desperately waiting to be revealed. To be set free.
So, I present this new work with the firm knowledge that what I am creating is an important and worthy contribution to the current cultural dialogue. More importantly, I consider my work a part of a strategy for resistance. Even as we steel ourselves for battle ahead, we must remember to leave room for joy.
Joy is sacred and so it is worth fighting for.
Remember to fight.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (14 pieces), Washington, DC
The Amistad Center for Art and Culture, Hartford, CT
The Museum of Modern Art, Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection, New York, NY
The University of Iowa Women’s Center, Iowa City, IA
The En Foco Photography Collection, New York, NY
The Museum of Modern Art/Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection, New York, NY
African textiles, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and the everyday aesthetic within
the historic African American neighborhoods of Houston, Texas inspire “Boom”. This
work acts as a reminder to the extrinsic value of these neighborhoods through the
lens of its spatial geography and relationship to gentrification, along with objects
and form in terms of cultural iconography, and the everyday aesthetic. Drum
notations and Houston’s hip-hop car culture formulate the abstract patterns. These
patterns act as a response to the marginalization of Black American identity, the black spatial imaginary, and contemporary art. During the times of American slavery, it was said that southern quilts communicated warnings to the slaves.
Although this was found to be a myth, this contemporary makeshift quilt does
communicate moments of neighborhood erasure and the silencing of its cultural
contributions. It also simultaneously celebrates the neighborhood’s cultural socio-
consciousness and overall complexity.
The Ulrich Museum, Wichita, KS
The McColl Center, Charlotte, NC
The American Museum, Washington, DC
The Kemper Contemporary Arts Museum, Kansas City, MO
The Theresa Hotel, Harlem, NY
Harvey B Gantt Art Center for African American Arts and Culture, Charlotte, NC
The Community Artist’s Collective
The Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury CT
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX
Project Row Houses, Houston, TX
The University Museum, Houston, TX
The New Museum, New York, NY
NATHANIEL DONNETT, Boom, 2018, 40″x46″, duct tape, plastic and photographs on paper
VICTOR EKPUK, Head 4, 2015, 45″x48″, acyrlic on panel
VICTOR EKPUK, Mask Series 1, 2018, 24″x18″, acrylic on canvas
Victor Ekpuk is a Nigerian-American artist based in Washington, DC.
His art, which began as an exploration of nsibidi “traditional” graphics and writing systems in Nigeria, has evolved to embrace a wider spectrum of meaning that is rooted in African and global contemporary art discourses.
Guided by the aesthetic philosophy nsibidi, where sign systems are used to convey ideas, Ekpuk re-imagines graphic symbols from diverse cultures to form a personal style of mark making that results in the interplay of art and writing.
Ekpuk’s art reflects his experiences as a global artist. “The subject matter of my work deals with the human condition explained through themes that are both universal and specific: family, gender, politics, culture and Identity” -Victor Ekpuk
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Smithsonian Museum of African Art
Brooks Museum
Krannert Art Museum
Arkansas Art Center
Fidelity Investments
Newark Museum
The World Bank
University of Maryland University College Art Collection
The U. S. Department of State
Maya Freelon is an award-winning visual artist whose work was described by the late poet Maya Angelou as “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being.” Cosmopolitan Magazine featured her in June 2015 in “Art Stars” calling her one “of the most badass female artists in the biz.”  She was commissioned by Google to design original art for their OnHub router, by Cadillac to create a live-sculpture for their Dare Greatly creative campaign, and by the North Carolina Museum of Art to create a collaborative tissue paper sculpture celebrating the opening of their African Art wing. Her unique tissue paper art, praised by the International Review of African American Art as “a vibrant, beating assemblage of color,” has been exhibited internationally, including shows in Paris, Jamaica, Madagascar, and Italy. She was selected by Modern Luxury Magazine as Best of the City; by Huffington Post as “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know”; and by Complex magazine as “15 Young Black   Artists Making Waves in the Art World.”  Maya has completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, the Korobitey Institute in Ghana, and the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia. She earned a BA from Lafayette College and an MFA from theSchool of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
U.S. State Department
U.S. Embassy in Madagascar
U.S. Embassy Swaziland
U.S. Embassy Rome
The University of Maryland (David C. Driskell Center)
Johns Hopkins University
Rocketship Rise Academy;
The Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lafayette College
The Brandywine Workshop
The Experimental Printmaking Institute
The Williston Northampton School
The Kokrobitey Institute
Lewis Tanner Moore
Dr. Maya Angelou
photo credit: Christopher Charles
MAYA FREELON, Compression, 2017, 44″x34″, tissue ink monoprint
MAYA FREELON, Intuition, 2017, 46″x44″, tissue ink monoprint
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, Awakening the Matrilineal: Calling in the West, 36″x36″, mixed media on canvas
AMBER ROBLES-GORDON, Awakening the Matrilineal: South and of the Fire, 2016, 34″x35″, mixed media on canvas
Awakening the Matrilineal
“My artwork is a visual representation of my hybridism: a fusion of my gender, ethnicity, cultural, and social experiences. I impose colors, imagery, and materials that evoke femininity and tranquility with the intent of transcending or balancing a specific form. I associate working with light, color, and energy as a positive means to focus on the healing power found in the creative process and within us all. It is my belief that colors have both feminine and masculine energies and each color represents a specific aspect of nature.” -Amber Robles Gordon
Judith A. Hoffberg Archive Library
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA Masterpiece Miniature Art Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia Capital One Bank, Mc Clean,Virginia District of Columbia’s Art Bank, Washington, D.C.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY
The Gautier Family Collection, Washington, DC
In continuing my work with black figures I sculpt in unseen tensions of the past present and future on bodies with the idea of utilizing diagnostic lenses and contrast dyes to reveal erased and unknown histories and patterns.
Through the use of presence, absence, distortion and illusion and while in a time when the digital world has severe control of our information feeds I aim to challenge our lens’, the powers that hold our attention, and create opportunities for questioning and perspective alteration.
In my time working as a critical care nurse, we would use a multitude of lenses to gain a broad understanding of what is going on with any given situation to find homeostasis. While facts and diagnostic information can inform us of any given situation, without empathy and perspective alteration, our hearts will remain unchanged.
Nate Lewis grew up in Beaver Falls, near Pittsburgh, Pa. He graduated from VCU with his BSN and was a practicing critical care nurse for five years as well as professional fine artist. He has been awarded prestigious residencies at Pioneer Works and Dieu Donne in NYC, Agora Culture on Martha’s Vineyard and won a number of artist fellowship grants from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities.
NATE LEWIS, Spirit Suite, 2018, 21.5″x26″, hand sculpted photo paper print
NATE LEWIS, Traverse Suite, 2018, 26″x26″, hand sculpted photo paper print
About Morton Fine Art
Founded in 2010 in Washington, DC, 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 anyone can become an art collector or enthusiast, 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
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787
For further information and images, please contact Amy Morton: