Several contributors remedy stories of metamorphoses prompted by cases of divine rape. Annie Rochelle draws Europa as a bare-breasted backpacker, no longer the victim of Jupiter, who takes the form of a bull that’s docile in this remake. Katherine Pedrick paints snake-haired Medusa, violated by Poseidon, as solemn rather than monstrous. Alessandra Ricci’s vision of Pandora, whose origin story includes misogyny but not assault, unleashes swirls of color that symbolize both affliction and transcendence.
Simpler in implication, if not technique, is Jon-Joseph Russo’s sculpture of Jupiter and Io, a consensual lover transmuted into a heifer. The alabaster piece is all white, as is Virginia Maksymowicz’s resin-and-gypsum “Panis Angelicus,” in which bread loaves spill from a Corinthian column. The sculpture’s intricate backstory involves Persephone, the goddess of grain (whose abduction by Hades is not referenced).
A few artworks allude to other European traditions. K. Johnson Bowles repurposes familiar Christian imagery in her 3-D collage, framing a bleeding torso with flowers and tassels to liken the crucifixion to the suffering of women who have been harassed and abused. Florence Alfano McEwin’s vivid collage-drawing imagines a grown-up Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf as a contemporary married couple, with a hint of the wild beneath orthodox appearances.
Among the artists who venture beyond Western lore is Nico Gozal, whose “Srikandi” is a sumptuously patterned silk painting of a transgender character from India’s Mahabharata. Kenneth Reed reinvents Shiva the Transformer for the digital age as a CPU whose eight hands hold computer components as well as a sword. Even timelier is Saya Behnam’s drawing-painting, in which coronavirus-like spores float among abstract representations of demons from Iranian myth and gold-flecked details that suggest ornate Persian manuscripts.
Ancient deities endure in many forms, as two artists observe in the show’s most puckish offerings. Alice Kresse’s bold monoprint, “Goddess of Victory,” assembles a figure of Nike with the inked surfaces of fragments from a corrugated sneaker box. Cindy Packard Richmond realistically painted the statue of Neptune in Rome’s Piazza Navona, dwarfed by a huge poster of a shirtless hunk advertising designer pants. These days the power of the gods can barely compete with the brawn of marketing.
Mythos Through Oct. 25 at Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria.
Craig Walsh, Paper Works and Surakitkoson
Political and historical weight aside, most public monuments are not easily moved. Australian artist Craig Walsh has solved that problem by replacing bronze and marble with light. His evenings-only “Monuments: Creative Forces,” installed outside the Mansion at Strathmore, projects short videos of faces on the leafy crowns of large trees.
The countenances belong to six worthy if not widely known artists, all with Strathmore connections: filmmaker Be Steadwell, poet Marjan Naderi, visual artist Terron Cooper Sorrells, dance troupe founder C. Brian Williams, and musicians Daryl Davis and Yoko K. Sen. Each appears in a video loop, opening and closing mouth and eyes, the likeness partly jumbled by the foliage. The effect suggests the portraits of Andy Warhol or Chuck Close, both of whom disrupt the precision of photo-derived images. A crucial difference is that Walsh’s style is far from urban: It relies on the sense of adventure that comes from wandering a path in the dark, seeking the next illuminated tree.
Inside and in the daytime, Strathmore is showing “Paper Works: The Art of Paper,” an 11-artist exhibition, and Emon Surakitkoson’s “Modulation and Harmony.” The larger show features artists who work not on but with paper — snipping, folding, shaping or assembling pieces that range from filmy to substantial.
The standout among the latter is Melinda Fabian’s large installation of a Victorian garden, populated by a menagerie of 3-D paper animals. Also imposing is Daniel Lai’s stairway installation of discarded books turned into pinwheels. The delicate items include Lucrezia Beerli-Bieler’s intricately cut filigrees, Kate Norris’s collages of wallpaper motifs and Ashley Chiang’s quilled mandala. It seems fitting that such methodical labor should be meditative.
Swooping strokes of black paint or ink across white expanses, Emon Surakitkoson makes abstractions of large gestures and intriguing details. The Thai American D.C. artist’s simplest pictures are little more than an arc or two, enlivened by drips, spatters, cracks and the gradations of gray produced by unevenly brushed pigment. Other compositions are layered more complexly, with flurries of overlapping gestures. Whatever the strategy, the results are punchy and kinetic.
Craig Walsh: Monuments: Creative Forces; Paper Works: The Art of Paper; and Emon Surakitkoson: Modulation and Harmony Through Oct. 25 (Walsh) and Oct. 31 at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. “Monuments” admission by timed ticket.
Color, pattern and family are what Ethiopia-bred D.C. painter Meron Engida remembers about her homeland. Or at least that’s what the neo-expressionist emphasizes in “Solidarity” at Morton Fine Art, her first U.S. solo show. Most of Engida’s canvases are crowded with women in domestic scenes, their faces rendered in simple black lines, except for the bright red oblongs that often represent lips. Children appear in many of the vignettes, and one of the few pictures that depicts just two people shows a mother and infant. It’s a self-portrait, but then that’s essentially what all these paintings are.
The circles, florals and zigzags that decorate their clothing also appear around and atop the figures, either painted or incised into the pigment, merging subject and embellishment. That unity suggests the influence of fabric design, as does the flatness of Engida’s style. Bright reds and blues punctuate the compositions, but the dominant tones are earthy. The tans and browns express a range of skin tones in ethnically diverse Ethiopia. In Engida’s stylized vision of that country, the landscape is primarily human.
Meron Engida: Solidarity Through Oct. 28 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.