Previously, Tan has shown photographs that are predominantly, even overwhelmingly, white. Her “An Excerpt From the Ongoing Anthology of Abandoned Photographs” shifts toward black, although sometimes punctuated by areas of intense white: an illuminated structure in the distance, streetlights reflected in a river. Although sometimes grouped in sets of two or three, the beautifully printed photos are part of what Tan calls “projects I purposefully will not finish.” Completing their narratives is left to the viewer.
Hidden in the Sky;
An Excerpt From the Ongoing Anthology of Abandoned Photographs
on view through March 9 at Civilian Art Projects, 1019 7th St. NW; 202-607-3804; www.civilianartprojects.com.
At 4 p.m. on March 9, the two local photographers will discuss their work with Bernard Welt, a professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design.
In the African American community, “good hair” is a heavily laden phrase; it even inspired a half-comic, half-chagrined 2009 Chris Rock documentary called “Good Hair.” Sonya Clark’s show at Contemporary Wing, “Ahead of Hair,” doesn’t classify its subject as good or bad, but it does evoke a complicated cultural history with simple means. Made mostly of yarn, thread and combs — only a few pieces involve actual hair — constructions range from playful to disturbing.
A native Washingtonian who now teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Clark sometimes toys with art history. Her show includes three small rectangles, made of combs and colored thread, that mimic Josef Albers’s “Homage to the Square” paintings. There’s also a raw canvas into which Clark has cut and woven a braid and a composition made of dozens of multi-layered black combs, arranged so that missing tines produce an off-center white cross.
Clark’s affinity for squares and crosses becomes more pointed when she weaves black thread into four differently patterned fields and then collects it into a knot. The work is titled “Quadroon,” an archaic racist term for someone who’s supposedly of one-quarter African heritage. Even more stark is “Cotton to Hair,” a bronze facsimile of a stem that holds two clumps of fiber, one of white cotton and one of black hair. It’s a small piece, but it evokes a large swath of the history of the American South.
Ahead of Hair
on view through Saturday at Contemporary Wing, 1412 14th St. NW; 202-730-5037; www.contemporarywing.com.
Neptune Fine Art and Robert Brown Gallery blend their holdings in “Impressed: Contemporary Editions by Masters of Line, Color and Composition.” The show includes familiar prints by some of the galleries’ regulars, including Mel Bochner and William Kentridge. But there’s also previously unseen work, as well as a few pieces by artists new to the galleries. One notable first-timer is Willem Boshoff, a South African artist who uses letterpress typography to make elegant compositions of twisting, overlapping lines of text.