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Sculptors debate political, social issues at Brentwood Arts Exchange


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Photo by Wanda Jackson. George Lorio’s sculpture “Crossing: the Game,” is similar to tic-tac-toe and mimics “a series of choices faced by immigrants crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the United States.”  Viewers are encouraged to “move or walk on individual water pieces; three in a row signifies a successful river crossing.”

Photo by Wanda Jackson. George Lorio’s sculpture “Crossing: the Game,” is similar to tic-tac-toe and mimics “a series of choices faced by immigrants crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the United States.” Viewers are encouraged to “move or walk on individual water pieces; three in a row signifies a successful river crossing.”

Published on: Wednesday, October 24, 2012

By Wanda Jackson

They create contemporary sculptures that call for viewer interaction.

One uses recycled, tempered glass to create forms reminiscent of the universe.

One brings viewers face-to-face with sanitary workers and cardboard recycling bundles.

One uses painted wood to construct an oversize tic-tac-toe game.

Another creates, then deconstructs clay objects.

This group of artists uses a variety of materials, and traditional and non-traditional methods, to initiate conversations about the concerns of the communities in which they live and work.

“AGENDAS: Concepts and Thematics in Sculpture’s Expanded Field — Community Engagement” at the Brentwood Arts Exchange through Nov. 17 features contemporary works by sculptors from the Anacostia to the Potomac and beyond.

The exhibit is a collaboration between Brentwood Arts Exchange and the Washington Sculptors Group, a nonprofit corporation founded to promote awareness and understanding of sculpture and to foster the exchange of ideas among sculptors, collectors and the general public.

The exhibit features works by 13 artists: Blair Bainbridge, Alan Binstock, Alonzo Davis, Terry deBardelaben, Martin Feldman, Olivier Giron, George Lorio, Christina Marsh, Mike Shaffer, Ward Tietz, Adejoke Tugbiyele, Carlos Vargas and Alice Yutzy.

Teresia Bush, the exhibit’s curator and assistant professor of art history at Howard University, views “Agendas” as a political show.

Experienced art viewers “have long been aware of specific ideological views held by many renowned artists and those viewers often look for and find similar subject matter in the works of emerging artists as well,” said Bush.

“In this exhibition, we see artists, the ones that we know or more precisely those who live in our communities, addressing or promoting ways of thinking that are similar to the views held by their more widely known counterparts,” Bush said.

Bush added that “the artists in this exhibition tackle the poetics and biases associated with skin, point out workforce inequities and call attention to an emerging potential dominance of a global aesthetic which challenges certain conventional principles and standards long held in the field of art.”

In “Journey — Where Are We Going,” Alice Yutzy uses clay, stoneware and jute to create a lifelike essence. A circular meditative path leads to a knobbed, rough and twisted ladder that lifts viewer’s sight to a similar circular path on the wall.

The organic qualities of her sculpture “symbolize a human quality or condition intended to enhance positive interaction and inquiry,” Yutzy said. “The viewer is free to move among the forms, always having the freedom of interpretation, contemplation, or simply to enjoy the beauty of the organic presence of each piece.”

Alonzo Davis’s bamboo and mixed media works titled “La Vida Subir” and “Ibjejl” are inspired by his travels.

“I seek influences, cultural centers and energies, new terrain the power of both the spoken and unspoken,” Davis said.

He counts among his influences “the magic of American Southwest, Brazil, Haiti, West Africa” and Southern California where he lived for 30 years before moving to Maryland.

“These influences are expressed abstractly in my work via color, pattern and form. Quilts, hides and indigenous textiles have often acted as creative springboards in earlier work especially,” Davis said.

At 3 p.m. Nov. 17, Brentwood Arts Exchange will host “A Scholar’s Talk with Juror Teresia Bush” to explore themes and concepts in “Agendas,” global forms in art and engagement with the broader community.

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