Curator Mary Savig details an artist’s journey to create the powerful performance work Metabolizing the Border that explores the physical and psychological experiences migrants face while crossing the borderlands.
Populated with toy cowboys and cavalry, Barbie dolls and baseball players, David Levinthal’s photographs reference iconic images and events that shaped postwar American society. Despite their playful veneer, Levinthal’s images provide a lens through which to examine the myths and stereotypes lurking within our most beloved pastimes and enduring heroes. In doing so, Levinthal encourages us to consider the stories we tell about ourselves—what it means to be strong, beautiful, masculine, feminine, and ultimately, American.
Birds have long been a source of mystery and awe. Today, a growing desire to meaningfully connect with the natural world has fostered a resurgence of popular interest in the winged creatures that surround us daily. The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art examines mankind’s relationship to birds and the natural world through the eyes of twelve major contemporary American artists, including David Beck, Rachel Berwick, Lorna Bieber, Barbara Bosworth, Joann Brennan, Petah Coyne, Walton Ford, Paula McCartney, James Prosek, Laurel Roth Hope, Fred Tomaselli, and Tom Uttech.
Alexis Rockman (b. 1962) has been depicting the natural world with virtuosity and wit for more than two decades. He was one of the first contemporary artists to build his career around exploring environmental issues, from evolutionary biology and genetic engineering to deforestation and climate change. Rockman has garnered attention for embracing these issues, as well as for the epic quality of his projects, including several monumentally scaled canvases.
Shin's most recent project, Everyday Monuments, debuts in the exhibition. The sprawling installation consists of nearly 2000 trophies donated by Washington, D.C.-area residents and projected images of the altered trophies. Inspired by the well-known historic monuments and heroic statuary displayed throughout Washington’s public spaces, Everyday Monuments venerates the accomplishments of ordinary Americans—stay-at-home moms, waitresses, janitors, postal carriers—whose everyday labors go unrecognized. Shin transformed each figurine to represent these tasks. The trophies are arranged according to a scale plan of the National Mall, symbolically filling the expanse of Washington's signature public space.
Explore the expressive possibilities of color in this special installation of twenty-seven large-scale paintings from the museum's permanent collection. Local Color: Washington Painting at Midcentury examines the cross influences of Washington, D.C.-based artists between the mid-1950s and mid-1970s when our nation's capital was home to one of the most dynamic artistic communities in the country. Looking beyond the Color School label, this exhibition explores the astonishing breadth of styles and techniques adopted by Washington artists Leon Berkowitz, Gene Davis, Thomas Downing, Sam Gilliam, Fel Hines, Jacob Kainen, Howard Mehring, Paul Reed, and Alma Thomas who were conducting innovative experiments with color and form.
Inspired by nineteenth-century landscape painting, science-fiction film, and firsthand study, Rockman’s paintings proffer a vision of the natural world that is equal parts fantasy and empirical fact. Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow is the first major survey of the artist’s work and features forty-seven artworks that trace his career from Pond’s Edge (1986) to The Reef (2009), with its timely reminder of the fragile ecosystems that lie just out of sight but never out of danger. This vividly illustrated volume highlights the artist’s unique synthesis of art and science, along with a meticulous attention to detail and striking use of color. The compelling mix of realism, scientific detail, and environmental polemic results in art that is both a demand for action and an elegy for what has been lost.