The Strathmore Fine Artists in Residence program held an opening reception July 22 at the Mansion at Strathmore. The two-year-old program’s emphasis is on promoting up-and-coming Washington-area artists.
The works created by the four emerging artists ranged from the bright
and comical to the serious and reflected, such as the acrylic pieces created by Brittany Sims, whose interests were piqued by the natural disasters in Joplin, Mo. Sims wanted to explore the use of “more disposable materials” and created some of her work on newspaper as opposed to a traditional canvas: “Painting has always been about preservation, and I just felt like it would be interesting to do something [on a material] that I knew wouldn’t last…it felt more freeing to be able to do something that would eventually kind of disappear altogether.”
Minna Phillips, who favors images that are “sort of paradoxical,” didn’t have to go far to find inspiration – just beyond the Mansion, she found a grotto, once used heavily by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who once called the Mansion home to their convent and school, St. Angela Hall. Phillips photographed the grotto, sketched her images on special transparent paper known as vellum, stretched the vellum around the frame, and then pasted her images to the large front paned window that overlooks the city. Phillips wanted to give new meaning to the grotto by integrating its images into the structure of the building. “I wanted it to be part of the building, not just a piece on the wall,” she says.
Photographer Solomon Slyce chose to stick with images and ideas that are both ironic and strikingly relevant to today’s society. His images are manipulated into bright colors and Warhol-esque pop themes, with tongue-in-cheek works like “The Poker Game,” that shows the obvious cheating tactics of its players. Slyce, who strives to “put an extension of myself in everything I create,” is seeking to create open discussion within his work:
“It’s serving to be a dialogue piece that can appeal to many different people from many backgrounds to come and have a common place to talk…in not such an aggressive manner where [something] could be offensive or people could put up a guard and not necessarily share their true values about it.”
Wilmer Wilson IV, a student at Howard University, utilized ordinary paper bags for his piece, which were “inflated by human breath” and were placed in various formations: hung on wire suspended from the ceiling, spilling out of a fireplace in the adjoining room, or photographed tumbling out of a shower.
Wilson was draw to the idea of using “nonarchival everyday objects as sculptural forms” for his piece, and “…something about just inflating them with my breath is really just alluring to me,” he mused.
The showcase will remain at the Residence though Aug. 20. The Mansion at Strathmore can be found across from the Music Hall, at 10710 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda Md. (301) 581-5125 For more information, visit the Strathmore Fine Artists in Residence site.