Most of the other five artists in the show depict domestic scenes. Bella Foster and Allison Gildersleeve do so loosely, recalling European impressionists or expressionists. Augusta Wood shows domesticity under glass, photographing rooms through windows; the focus is less on the interior than the multiple visual planes conjured by complex reflections. Ann Toebbe also toys with perspective, in oil and gouache paintings that are scrupulously flat yet offer multiple angles on everyday vignettes. Her pattern-rich work includes autobiographical asides: At the center of “Beating the Rug” is a bird that laid eggs on Toebbe’s porch while the artist was pregnant.
Rachel Farbiarz’s found-object sculpture, “Take Me With You,” also features lots of commonplace stuff, piled on a wheelbarrow to evoke a refugee’s attempt to carry something of home into exile. The flip side of this piece is the same artist’s “I Wish I Could,” on display in the gallery’s window. It shows the things left behind, including crystal, linens and a sewing machine. Both assemblages evoke the D.C.-based sculptor’s grandfather, a Holocaust survivor and post-World War II refugee. One of the meanings of “home,” of course, is that sense of belonging that can be stolen forever.
The sense of loss in Farbiarz’s work is echoed in some of the pieces in “A/way Home,” an eight-artist show curated by Jarvis DuBois for Black Artists of D.C. “The black poet carries the genetic memory of terror,” is one of the messages in Esther Iverem’s text-heavy fabric pieces. The exhibition’s epigraph is a quotation from Toni Morrison’s “Home,” which expresses the ambivalence many feel toward their home town.
Much of the work is photo-based. Alex Alexander offers impressions of an urban supermarket, shabby and unwelcoming; Thomas Gomillion photographs men, perhaps homeless, lounging on benches. Less literal are Charles Sessoms’s photo-collages, which include a hand rising through flood waters and an African woman in a burlesque costume, seemingly trapped in some Victorian-era sideshow.
Some of the most appealing work is less specific. The titles of J. Hubert Jackson’s mixed-media paintings, which include “Urban Lake,” indicate that they’re landscapes, but they evoke a general sense of sky, land and water rather than actual locations. Carolyn Goodridge’s encaustic paintings such as “Across the Milky Way” gaze upon even wider horizons. The cosmic subject matter may bend the concept a little, but these pictures are among the show’s most handsome entries.