Arlington Arts Center - Open World Catalog

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Open World on view JUNE 16 - SEPTEMBER 29, 2018

Front Cover: Alissa D. Polan, Reach out to embrace stones (tile, bathroom and mountain range) Inside Cover: Jodie Mim Goodnough, The Yellow Wallpaper

Open World on view

JUNE 16 - SEPTEMBER 29, 2018




About the Exhibition In video game design, the term “open world” refers to a game environment in which players are able to move relatively freely through the game’s virtual setting, rather than remaining tied to a traditional linear structure and more limited set of objectives. As a phrase, disconnected from its original context, “open world” evokes vast expanses of space, unencumbered by borders and limitations. It could refer to a radical, even utopian, political vision or a techno-optimist pitch for globalization. The phrase–as both an open-ended concept and a specific video game format–also resonates with the world-building strategies employed by the eight artists and artist-teams included in this exhibition. They create spaces and environments, whether virtual or physical, and invite their viewers to enter into these new worlds. They construct narratives or introduce characters that help the audience move through and understand the alternate realities and imagined spaces they’ve created. While the artists in Open World concern themselves with worldbuilding, they often do so in response to the limitations of our shared reality. Azikiwe Mohammed’s ongoing project, Jimmy’s Thrift of New Davonhaime, and T.T. Davis Park, his new installation for Open World, are concerned with the limitations placed on Black people and Black life in the United States. In conceiving 4of New Mohammed asks how those limitations FALLDavonhaime, SOLOS 2017 · Arlington Arts Center

can be challenged and what a new kind of space, with different structures and boundaries, might look like. Like several other projects in the exhibition Mohammed’s work also points to the ways people and communities engage in their own world building, altering existing environments or creating new representations of themselves in the world. Alissa D. Polan’s work examines the worlds that are created through media depictions, whether through corporate advertising or by individual users on social media. While the imagery she draws on comes from a range of sources, Polan is specifically interested in exploring the new image landscape enabled by social media, where the aspirational spirit of advertising is transformed into a tool for selling the self. Virtual spaces can also be a means for exploring the way different environments, whether built or natural, can construct communities and shape individuals. Jodie Mim Goodnough’s video installation, The Yellow Wallpaper, asks the audience to enter a world that is defined by its boundaries and limitations. The work, inspired by the Charlotte Perkins Gilmore short story, considers the connections between the space of the “rest cure” forced on The Yellow Wallpaper’s narrator and the treatment environments used for contemporary psychological and medical care. In Nicholas O’Brien’s open world-style video

game essay Cross Timbers, players virtually traverse the region of the same name, encountering stories about the individuals and communities who have found shelter in the Cross Timber’s forests for centuries. Several artists in the show focus on landscapes in order to comment on man’s relationship with nature. In her viewing boxes, Rachel Guardiola allows viewers to peer into an alternate world, an environment that is earth-like but just strange enough to feel unfamiliar. While Guardiola’s environments feel unhinged from time, perhaps ripped from the past or pulled from an alternate reality, Rachel Frank asks us to consider the past while looking towards the future. The artist creates sculptural masks and landscapes that evoke extinct species and previous epochs, asking what these extinct creatures and lost geographies might be able to tell us about man’s relationship with the earth in the Anthropocene, an epoch defined by the irreversible impact man has had on the earth’s most fundamental qualities. The creation of characters and narratives allows audiences to enter more easily into alternate worlds. In Stephanie J. Williams’ Pinoy/Ploy, small duck-like creatures based on the Balut, a Filipino delicacy, drive the action forward. In Plakookee’s Crypto$Crystal, a parade of strange characters, including talking

drones, sentient rocks, and women with strange shapes for heads, draw the audience in with humor and a dose of the absurd. Williams works in stop-motion animation, creating her creatures and objects in real life before meticulously animating them, while Plakookee relies on CGI to animate their sculptural objects. Like all the artists in the exhibition, they merge boundless creativity with technical prowess to create worlds that are simultaneously believable and strange. The artists in Open World construct spaces and environments, creating alternate realities and new visions using a range of media and from widely varied perspectives. This focus on alternate realities and on characters, stories, and fictionalized space might seem escapist at first glance. But, rather than being an escape from reality, this interest in alternate universes and imagined spaces opens up new ways of thinking about the real world. By considering the rules, borders, and structures of alternate realities, these artists examine, subvert, and critique the limitations of our own. Blair Murphy Curator of Exhibitions

Stephanie J. Williams, Pinoy/Ploy

About the Artist RACHEL FRANK received her BFA from The

Kansas City Art Institute and her MFA from The University of Pennsylvania. She is the recipient of grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, and Franklin Furnace Archive. Residencies include Yaddo, Marie Walsh Sharpe, The Museum of Arts and Design, MOCA Tucson, and Skowhegan. She has performed at HERE, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Select Fair, The Bushwick Starr, and The Watermill Center in collaboration with Robert Wilson. Recent solo and two-person shows include the SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Geary Contemporary, and Standard Space in Sharon, CT. She lives and works in Brooklyn.

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exploring the epochal shifts, transitions, and ruptures in our historical and contemporary landscapes


About the Work Merging the disciplines of sculpture, video, and performance, Rachel Frank draws from environmental theory, political activism, and natural history to explore the epochal shifts, transitions, and ruptures in our historical and contemporary landscapes. In two ongoing projects, Rewilding and Vapors, she creates large-scale masks and other sculptural objects that function as stand-alone works and are also integrated into performances and videos. Inspired by rewilding, the practice of reintroducing species to areas where they formerly thrived but have since gone extinct,


Frank seeks to mine the memories of the landscape itself and explore the role natural actors may play in offsetting the damage done by human development. Vapors features two performers wearing large animal masks, one a woolly mammoth and the other a woolly rhinoceros–two animals that were part of a wave of extinctions at the end of the Ice Age. In Vapors, they serve as mirrors into the past and as reminders of the crisis facing related species today, including the threat posed by climate change.

About the Artist JODIE MIM GOODNOUGH is a Providence, Rhode Island-based artist who attended Salt Institute

for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine and received her MFA in Visual Art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University. She is the recipient of a 2017 Traveling Fellowship from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a 2017 Fellowship in Photography from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts. Her work has been shown nationally in both solo and group exhibitions, including at the Midwest Center for Photography, the William Morris Hunt Library of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and at SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York City. Goodnough is currently on the faculty at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI.

looking at the history of psychiatry and psychology through a gendered lens


The Yellow Wallpaper

About the Work In photography, performance, sculpture, and video, Jodie Mim Goodnough looks at the history of psychiatry and psychology through a gendered lens. In The Yellow Wallpaper, a new digital installation, she references another artist whose work explored similar themes. Written in 1892, Charlotte Perkins Gilmore’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper centers on a woman who, after being diagnosed with “a temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency” is locked in an attic room by her husband for a “rest cure.” The isolation and lack of stimulation from this treatment

drives the woman to psychosis. The “rest cure,” a real 19th-century medical treatment, was given more often to women, who were seen as weaker and more vulnerable to mental breakdowns than men. Goodnough’s installation, created from a 3D model of a contemporary psychiatric hospital, explores the paternalistic nature of our current mental health care system and is part of the artist’s ongoing exploration into the effect of the treatment environment on recovery from mental and physical illness.


exploring the human relationship to the wilderness through the construction of fantastical narratives About the Artist RACHEL GUARDIOLA is an interdisciplinary artist and naturalist. Rachel is a 2016 to 2018 Artist

Fellow at Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington D.C. and Studio Resident at School 33 Art Center in Baltimore, MD. She has exhibited internationally in the U.S., Iceland, Denmark, France, Italy, Australia, and Senegal. She has been an artist in residence at the Arctic Circle Art & Science Expedition, HEIMA, Vermont Studio Center, and Atelier de Visu. Her work has been selected for List í ljósi, Light City Baltimore, Artscape, Re:Cinema, and Nature in the Dark II. She received a MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2015 and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007.


Archaeologies from VEGA’s Garden

About the Work Rachel Guardiola explores the human relationship to the wilderness through the construction of fantastical narratives that follow the habits of cyborg or chimera characters and the ecology of the earth-like planets they traverse. Guardiola combines analog and digital technologies, including photography, film, video, sound, alternative processes, and projected installations to construct mythologies of these future-past topographies. She draws inspiration and motivation from her own physical navigation through extreme landscapes, including solitary travel through extreme Arctic climates during

the period of darkness, a time when the sun sinks below the horizon. In her viewing boxes, Guardiola provides glimpses into the ecology of an unearthly landscape, populated by unknown and extinct plant species. The imagined landscapes could be testing grounds for time-traveling surveyors or attempts by horticultural pirates to re-cultivate a lost wilderness. In a series of photographs paired with the dioramas, the artist takes the perspective of a faceless archivist working to uncover the history of this alternate universe, its physical laws, other species and the transformations of its topography.


About the Artist AZIKIWE MOHAMMED graduated from Bard College in 2005 where he studied photography

and fine arts. Since then he has shown these things in galleries both nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Knockdown Center (Maspeth, NY), IDIO Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), and Long Gallery (New York, NY) and group exhibitions at Charlie James Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), SPRING/BREAK Art Show (New York, NY), Fabbrica del Vapore (Milan, Italy), and Glass Box Gallery (Seattle, WA), among other venues. In 2015 he received the Art Matters Grant and in 2016 was the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant. He is part of the collections at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Modern Art. He lives in New York and works at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ.

imagines new davonhaime not as a utopia but rather as a place that could actually exist


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R.S. Wallace Park

About the Work In the ongoing project Jimmy’s Thrift of New Davonhaime, Azikiwe Mohammed imagines a thrift shop in New Davonhaime, a fictional town named by combining the names of five American cities with some of the highest Black-population densities: New Orleans, LA; Detroit, MI; Birmingham, AL; Jackson, MI; and Savannah, GA. Mohammed imagines New Davonhaime not as a utopia – a category of place that is, by definition, impossible – but rather as a place that could actually exist. It is based on five actual locations. In an installation for Open World, Mohammed creates a park space in New Davonhaime, imagining the world just outside the door

to Jimmy’s Thrift. Titled T.T. Davis Park, the installation is a space for Black leisure, a radical notion in a country where Black people have long been expected to prove their usefulness through their labor. Whether through the lack of public parks and other leisure spaces in Black neighborhoods or through racist enforcement of laws against loitering and vagrancy, Black leisure is treated as dangerous or even criminal. With T.T. Davis Park, Mohammed suggests that leisure space in New Davonhaime would serve the straightforward purpose of providing a space to rest or simply to sit. T.T. Davis Park is a place for Black sitting.


a refuge for travelers, exiles, displaced people, and others pushed to the margins for over four centuries About the Artist NICHOLAS O’BRIEN is an artist and writer researching games, digital art, and network

culture. His work has been exhibited in Mexico City, Berlin, London, Dublin, Italy, Prague, as well as throughout the US, including in solo exhibitions at Knockdown Center (Maspeth, NY), LiMA (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), and Essex Flowers (New York, NY) and group exhibitions at Whitney Museum of American Art, SEDEMENT gallery (Richmond, VA), Mana Contemporary (Chicago, IL), and apex art (New York, NY). As a past recipient of a Commission funded by the NEA, his work has also appeared or been featured in ARTINFO, The Brooklyn Rail, DIS Magazine, Frieze d/e, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. He currently lives in Brooklyn and is Assistant Professor in 3D Design and Game Development at Stevens Institute of Technology.

NICHOLAS O’BRIEN 12 OPEN WORLD · Arlington Arts Center

Cross Timbers

About the Work Nicholas O’Brien uses digital and interactive story-telling technologies to speculate on the civic and social history of forgotten or otherwise neglected spaces. He conducts extensive research for all of his projects, which include video game essays, 3D animations, and other new media work. Cross Timbers, his contribution to Open World, is an interactive essay game that contemplates the untold histories of the Midwestern region by the same name. The area, which stretches from Central Texas to Southern Kansas, is characterized by large swathes of densely

grown forest, interrupted by sections of prairie. It has been a refuge for travelers, exiles, displaced people, and others pushed to the margins for over four centuries, in part due to the protection offered by its dense tree growth. Cross Timbers was created using generative and procedural systems, techniques that allowed O’Brien to create algorithms that automatically generate new spaces for players to move through. In Cross Timbers, players encounter narratives based on O’Brien’s research into the region, while moving through an endless, ethereal forest.


considering the frameworks individuals use to make sense of their lives in the present moment

About the Artists PLAKOOKEE is a creative collaboration

between Justin Plakas and Rachel Debuque They are artists and designers who combine sculpture, installation, constructed photography, and new media work. Their art often incorporates synthetic and manmade materials in bold colors and patterns that push the boundaries of color, space, and form with a digital approach. The two artists have collaborated since 2013 on various projects including Cosmic Modules with Hemphill Fine Arts in Washington, DC; How to Train your Pet Turtle to Retrieve Lemons for Lemon Drop Juice for the Institute for New Feeling in Los Angeles; and Love Child at Ortega y Gasset Projects in New York City. Plakookee’s studio is in Hyattsville, Maryland.

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About the Work Plakookee’s Crypto$Crystal is a two-channel video projection which combines live action video, 3-D animation, and sound design with digital elements drawn from Plakookee’s photography, sculpture, performance, and new media work. The video playfully examines the rapid growth in app production and crypto currencies like bitcoin, and other digital technology trends. Crypto$Crystal considers these trends in relation to the renewed Western interest in spirituality and healing practices, including yoga and crystal meditation, considering the frameworks


individuals use to make sense of their lives in the present moment. Drawing on a wide range of technologies and skills, Plakookee creates elaborate scenarios and absurd characters, highlighting the surreality of contemporary life by pushing its more absurd elements to their (il)logical extreme. The characters and environments in their videos are familiar but also strange, highlighting the bizarre and potentially frightening undertones of the apps, tech gadgets, fashion styles, and lifestyle trends that populate contemporary American life.

About the Artist ALISSA D. POLAN is an artist, curator, and project manager based in New York. Her work has

been exhibited nationally, including LMAKgallery, (New York, NY), BLAM LA (Los Angeles, CA), Heather Marx Art Advisory (San Francisco, CA), Klowden Mann (Culver City, CA), Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (Sonoma, CA), and Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (New Orleans, LA). She has curated and coordinated projects and exhibitions for both galleries and art fairs, including Field Projects (New York, NY), SPRING/BREAK Art Show (New York, NY), and Startup Art Fair (Chicago, IL). She received her MFA in Sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute (San Francisco, CA).

exploring the mechanics of photographic representation, consumption, affluence, fantasy, and authenticity


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The Surface Punch (Mekong River centerpieces, ottomans, sidetables, chairs and fireplaces)

About the Work Working in collage, sculpture, and photography, Alissa D. Polan explores the mechanics of photographic representation, consumption, affluence, fantasy, and authenticity. She combines photographs of picturesque places with magazine cutouts of beautiful objects to create surrealistic fantasy landscapes. In her collages images are repeated– cutout, obscured, copied, and repurposed – creating dreamscapes that mimic the overwhelming image feeds that surround us. While the artist pulls images from a range of sources, including magazine

advertising and vintage postcards, her work responds directly to the ways images are circulated online, in social media feeds and across other digital platforms. In An Elegant Mirage of Scale and Comfort, a new site-specific installation for Arlington Arts Center’s Tiffany Gallery, Polan constructs meta environments for her smaller works on paper. Inspired in part by the gallery’s Tiffany windows, the artist constructs a large-scale image landscape, bringing her deconstructed, distorted, and collaged interiors up to human scale.


considering the ways that the consumption of “exotic” cuisines acts as a stand in for cultural understanding About the Artist STEPHANIE J. WILLIAMS received her MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of

Design and has shown nationally and abroad, including ACRE Projects, The Wassaic Project, The Delaware Contemporary, Washington Project for the Arts, Grizzly Grizzly, and Lawrence University’s Wriston Art Center, with reviews in The New York Times, Village Voice, Huffington Post and The Washington Post. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Elsewhere Collaborative, the Vermont Studio Center and Toby Devan Lewis Foundation. Recent projects include stop motion animation projects for Fictions at The Studio Museum of Harlem, The Anatomy of Fairy Tales at The Everhart Museum, and Mirror Mirrored, an artists’ edition of Grimms Tales. Williams is currently based in Washington, DC and teaches animation at MICA.


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About the Work Stephanie J. Williams works in sculpture and video, navigating the legitimacy of taste. In the animation Pinoy/Ploy, she examines the hybrid nature and migratory patterns of the American food landscape and considers the ways that the food of marginalized communities is exoticized, appropriated, and packaged for a broader audience. The animation’s main protagonist, the Balut, is a hybrid, a half-formed fermented duck egg considered a delicacy in Filipino cuisine. In Pinoy/Ploy, a small army of Baluts come to life, emerging in a kitchen at night. They are

joined by Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima, two well-known examples of stereotyping and appropriation in the marketing of food to American consumers. As Filipino cuisine has reached a new level of prominence in American foodie culture, Williams considers the ways that the consumption of “exotic” cuisines acts as a stand in for cultural understanding. This examination of food becomes a way for Williams to unpack her own understanding of American-ness as a biracial queer cis-gendered female.


Jen Noone, Weeping Body & Olivia Tripp Morrow, Broken Dishes

Wyatt Resident Artists Gallery | Within/Between

About the Work In Within/Between, AAC Resident Artists Olivia Tripp Morrow and Jen Noone explore materiality and form, each working with a variety of techniques and a range of media. Jen Noone explores the relationship between the appearance of a thing, its material make up, and its function. In her sculptures and other three-dimensional works, cement is a decorative element, a structural support, and a container, while beauty products, gray clay, house paint, and foam insulation board are combined to create forms and surfaces that

mimic cement structures. The line between appearance and truth is blurred momentarily, but nothing is trying too hard to be something it’s not. Olivia Tripp Morrow uses found, recycled, donated, and discarded blankets and other domestic materials to create structures that evoke bodies, including spaces that provide shelter or comfort. Repurposing materials coded as feminine and deploying them as tools for construction, the artist reconsiders the usefulness of materials and tools often considered superficial or frivolous.


About the Artists OLIVIA TRIPP MORROW received her BFA in Sculpture from Syracuse University in 2012.

Her most recent works are video and sculptural installations addressing themes of the body, memory, sexuality, domesticity, and excess. Morrow lives in Washington, DC, and is a Resident Artist at the Arlington Arts Center, where she also has an installation on permanent loan. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally, in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, New York, Canada, and France. She has works on loan at the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD and at the Anacostia Arts Center in Washington, DC. JEN NOONE is a multimedia artist whose work blurs the line between painting, sculpture, and

performance. Noone received her BA in Art Education from Saint Joseph’s University (PA) and earned her MFA in Studio Art at American University (DC). Noone investigates materials that are familiar to the contemporary consumer in an attempt to understand herself and her surrounding world. Noone was recently highlighted as one of Interview Magazine’s Artists on the Verge. In 2017 she was awarded a studio residency at Arlington Arts Center (VA) and was a Trawick Prize Contemporary Art Award semi-finalist. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post and exhibited at the Arlington Arts Center (VA), Katzen Museum (DC), WAS Gallery (MD), and Connersmith (DC).



Exhibitions Open World | Main & Lower Level Galleries June 16 – September 29, 2018 Olivia Tripp Morrow & Jen Noone: Within/Between | Wyatt Resident Artists Gallery

June 16 – September 29, 2018

Events Summer Exhibitions Opening Reception & Resident Open Studios

June 16, 6 - 9 pm

Summer Exhibitions Gallery Talk & Closing Reception

September 29, 1 - 3 pm

Classes, Camps & Workshops Summer Camps for Ages 4-18

June 25 – August 31 Collaborative Print Workshop

Tuesday, June 12, 6:30 - 8:30pm Weekly Classes for Adults

July 10 – August 29

Advance registration is required For more information about our classes and to register online visit us at

Back Pages: Rachel Frank, Rewilding Platte Clove 22 ABOUT AAC · Arlington Arts Center

Hours & Location Arlington Arts Center is open Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 5 pm and by appointment. Metro: Silver & Orange Lines: Virginia Square 3550 Wilson Boulevard Arlington, VA 22201 703.248.6800 For more info about AAC visit:

About Arlington Arts Center (AAC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit contemporary visual arts center dedicated to presenting and supporting new work by regional artists in the Mid-Atlantic states. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and subsidized studio spaces, AAC serves as a bridge between artists and the public. The goal is to increase awareness, appreciation of, and involvement in, the visual arts in Arlington County, VA and the region. AAC was established in 1974 and has been housed since 1976 in the historic Maury School. Our facility includes nine exhibition galleries, working studios for twelve artists, and three classrooms. At 17,000 square feet, AAC is one of the largest non-federal venues for contemporary art in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.


Sponsors & Partners Our programs are made possible through the generous support of the Virginia Commission for the Arts/NEA; Arlington County through the Arlington Cultural Affairs division of Arlington Economic Development, the Arlington Commission for the Arts and Arlington Public Art; The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; The Washington Forrest Foundation; and AAC members.