One motif, no doubt inadvertent, is a fuzzy view of things. Kate MacDonnell’s “Mirror Constellations for Erik” is a strong yet ethereal image of a figure through frosted glass, while Terri Weifenbach’s “SE XIII L66,” a crisp close-up of a branch in front of a misty mountain backdrop. (Both are color photographs, but Weifenbach’s suggests a black-and-gray Chinese ink-painting landscape.) Similarly, soft light filters through the foggy background of Ivan Sigal’s “Picnic Table and Forest, Reading, Pennsylvania.” Also impressionistic, in their separate ways, are Jean Meisel’s suite of nine index-card-size “Horizon” paintings and Maggie Michael’s “Swans of Other Worlds, Sfumato Red,” which uses spray paint for gauziness.
Some of the sculptural pieces feel more specific, if not necessarily more literal. Jessica Drenk constructed what looks like a seashell from glued-together pencils. Peter Eudenbach’s “Grind” is a push tool whose three rollers have been replaced, whimsically, by hundreds of 45-rpm records. Adejoke Tugbiyele’s “Musician” suggests a sinuous moving figure with palm stems, yarn and a variety of metal fixtures. Julia Kim Smith built an abacus in which each bead is replaced by a tiny skull, to call attention to North Korea’s political prisoners. Her piece’s political charge contrasts the serenity of Tazuko Ichikawa’s asymmetrical coil of shaped wood, mostly painted black. Like much of the work here, it’s vigorous yet cryptic.
That is a brief overview. There’s much more to see, if not much more time to see it.
Washington Project for the Arts’s auction exhibition on view through Friday at the Washington Project for the Arts temporary space, 64 New York Ave. NE, sixth floor; 202-234-7103; wpadc.org.
Jerry Truong, Annette Isham
Hamiltonian Gallery, which frequently hosts shows by recent fine-arts graduates, is showing “Social Studies,” a two-person contemplation of the educational process. But it’s not art school that Annette Isham (MFA, 2010) and Jerry Truong (MFA, 2011) are reliving. Although both now teach art at local colleges, their work looks at earlier experiences.
In her videos and photographs, a bewigged Isham plays multiple roles that reflect the social pressures on adolescent girls. This is territory that, it may seem, has been amply explored by sitcoms, movies and other mainstream avenues. Truong’s work is headier, presenting school as a form of indoctrination.
The artist works with common classroom items, including chairs, blackboards and overhead projectors. Truong’s titles are verbose, and his art full of words: The adjective “discursive” is written in chalky cursive; “Blank Slates or Follow the Leader” refers to John Locke’s theory that children are a “tabula rasa,” or a blank slate, on which teachers and experience write knowledge; “Play-Doh/Plato and the Shadow Puppets or the Blind Leading the Blind” throws shadows on the wall to evoke “the republic’s” parable of humankind’s limited perception of reality.