Arlington Arts Center - Spring SOLOS 2018

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Spring SOLOS 2018

on view APRIL 14 - JUNE 2, 2018

Front Cover: Nick Primo, Move to the edge and over Inside Cover: Giulia Piera Livi, Something to be looked at, Something to be used

Spring SOLOS 2018 on view

APRIL 14 - JUNE 2, 2018




Fantasy Will Set You Free

4 FALL SOLOS 2017 · Arlington Arts Center

About the Exhibition Since 2005, Arlington Arts Center’s SOLOS exhibitions have highlighted innovative contemporary artists working across the Mid-Atlantic. In addition to shining a spotlight on talented regional artists, the program provides a glimpse into the ways contemporary artists are working now. Are they experimenting with innovative new media or challenging the boundaries of older forms? What pressing social issues, art historical trends, or political movements does their work illuminate? How does their work, as diverse as it may be, speak to the anxieties, concerns, and cultural transformations of our current moment? Spring SOLOS 2018 is no exception. It includes six artists whose work is grounded in more traditional artistic media – drawing, painting, and sculpture – who all update, subvert, manipulate, and refine those approaches. Nick Primo explores the legacy of minimalism, combining its clean lines and refined aesthetic with handcrafted ceramics and rough materials. Phaan Howng and Giulia Piera Livi build on the (relatively recent) tradition of installation art, working across disciplines to create immersive and fantastical spaces. Adam Griffiths draws on influences from the high to the low, merging the legacies of underground comics and B-movies with an interest in surrealism. In addition to utilizing a range of media, the exhibitions in Spring SOLOS 2018 tackle a broad array of topics and concerns. Jerry Truong’s charcoal drawings are a memorialization of those who lost their lives or were left behind as their loved ones fled wartorn Vietnam in the years following the withdrawal of American troops. Three artists in the exhibition – Giulia Piera Livi, Nick Primo, and Sean Derry – explore our material landscape through sculpture and installation. They focus on the tensions between mass production and craftwork and the boundaries we draw between the functional and the decorative.

Throughout Spring SOLOS 2018, the artists display an interest in blurred boundaries and transformations, examining the process by which an object, landscape, or person shifts from one state of being into another. Phaan Howng’s installation moves between the organic and the artificial, presenting an abstracted forest scene shot through with unnatural hues, including bright purples, electric blues, and neon greens. In Adam Griffiths’ drawings, a shifting cast of characters moves through environments that also seem in flux. Buildings, trees, landscapes, and people grow, ooze, and shift, often merging with one another. In his kinetic installations, Sean Derry transforms existing materials – repurposed motors, small tools, and household goods – giving these utilitarian objects a new purpose. This preoccupation with transformation, instability, movement, and change is only one of the many threads running through the exhibitions – although it feels especially relevant at a time when once stable assumptions, beliefs, and ways of understanding the world seem to shift beneath our feet. Spring SOLOS 2018 wouldn’t be possible without the support of AAC’s amazing staff – Executive Director Holly Koons, Marketing Coordinator Laura Devereux, and Education and Outreach Manager Samantha Marques-Mordkofsky. Thanks as well to our 2017-2018 SOLOS jurors, Kate Haw, Director of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art and Mika Yoshitake, Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, who selected these projects from an impressive pool of proposals. As always, boundless thanks to the artists, whose work makes these exhibitions possible. Blair Murphy Curator of Exhibitions

Facing Page: Adam Griffiths, Mannequin Catacomb

affirming the importance of resilience at a moment of increasing cultural conflict About the Artist SEAN DERRY grew up in Alaska. His family moved to the territory via steamship in the late

nineteenth century and later established one of the largest commercial reindeer herds in the state’s history. Derry’s ongoing interest in mechanical devices and amateur engineering can be partially attributed to his childhood experiences repairing lawnmowers. Derry currently lives in Pennsylvania and is the area head of sculpture at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Gallery 709 (Pittsburgh, PA), Das KloHäuschen (Munich, Germany), Westmoreland Museum of American Art (Greensburg, PA), and the Indianapolis Art Center (Indianapolis, IN), and in group exhibitions at Space Gallery (Pittsburgh, PA), University Museum (Indiana, PA), Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (Pittsburgh, PA), and Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center (Anchorage, AK), among other venues.


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About the Work Sean Derry builds kinetic installations from repurposed tools, motors, and domestic objects. Carpet remnants, hardware, cowboy boots, and bed sheets, among other unexpected materials, have all been transformed to create his purposefully low-tech machines. Rather than providing solutions, his machines are poetic responses to the conundrums of the human experience. They also affirm the importance of resilience at a moment of increasing cultural conflict


and ongoing environmental damage. To borrow breath, his contribution to Spring SOLOS 2018, is a kinetic installation that collects and distributes air, mimicking the inhalation and exhalation of breath. While some of Derry’s past work has been larger than life, to borrow breath is built on a more human scale. The work evokes the ephemerality of air and the fragility of the human bodies that cannot sustain themselves without it.

About the Artist ADAM GRIFFITHS is a cartoonist and illustrator

based in the DC region. He has exhibited his work with Washington Project for the Arts (Washington, DC), School 33 (Baltimore, MD), Flashpoint Gallery (Washington, DC), and the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) in Brooklyn, NY. In 2016, he was invited by Transformer to exhibit his work at Sala 1, a 75-year old artspace in Rome, Italy. Griffiths has completed workshops and residencies at The Center for Cartooning Studies in White River Junction, VT and Comics Workbook in Pittsburgh, PA. Recently, he was selected by cartoonist Edie Fake for the 2017 CAKE Chicago Cupcake Award.

ADAM GRIFFITHS 6 SPRING SOLOS 2018¡ Arlington Arts Center

characters, environments, and objects range from the charming to the grotesque, often blurring the boundary between the two


About the Work Adam Griffiths creates cartoons, comics, illustrations, and animations inspired by genre comics, commercial children’s cartoons, cinema history, and underground culture. The artist’s influences, including fantasy and surrealism, reflect his interest in escapism but also in how politics inevitably infiltrates even our most escapist narratives. In recent years, Griffiths has created numerous narrative comics and worked extensively on

an ambitious graphic novel. For Spring SOLOS 2018, he presents a side of his practice that is less tied to narrative. In these drawings, the artist focuses on liberating his imagination and pushing beyond symbolism to channel his artistic impulses directly onto the page. The characters, environments, and objects range from the charming to the grotesque, often blurring the boundary between the two.


About the Artist PHAAN HOWNG is a painter, sculptor, installation, and performance artist based in Baltimore,

Maryland. She received an MFA in multidisciplinary art from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she is now an adjunct professor. Howng’s latest solo and group exhibitions include Biological Controls: If It Bleeds We Can Kill It at School, 33 Art Center (Baltimore, MD) Strange Genitals, Art F City, (Brooklyn, NY) and Emergency Contacts for Alt+Esc’s No Vacancy 2, also in Brooklyn. She recently executed a large-scale installation for the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Common’s Collaboration and received a 2017 Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Ruby’s Artist Project Grant in Media and Performing Arts.

artifacts and installations imagine the sublime and formidable beauty of earth after humanity


8 SPRING SOLOS 2018 · Arlington Arts Center

Land That Knows No Parting

About the Work Phaan Howng creates artifacts and installations that imagine the sublime and formidable beauty of earth after humanity. Combining painting, sculpture, installations, and performance, she envisions an “optimist post-apocalypse,” an opportunity for nature to restyle itself into different sublime landscapes, devoid of human life. Howng deploys intense, unnatural colors to create environments that hide and camouflage themselves in order to immerse, disorient, and shock those who dare


to intrude. Her post-natural worlds initiate a dialogue about the current crises of world ecology and the effects of human habitation. Effigy, Elegy, Eulogy, her installation for Spring SOLOS 2018, evokes a tree-filled landscape that walks the line between the organic and the artificial. Through AAC’s large windows, the work exists in clear conversation with the outside world, drawing connections between Howng’s post-apocalyptic paintings and the urban landscape beyond.

strangely proportioned and oddly distorted objects inhabit installations and challenge our sense of space and reality

About the Artists GIULIA PIERA LIVI is an interdisciplinary artist from

Philadelphia, now living and working in Baltimore. She earned a BFA from Penn State University and an MFA from the Mount Royal School at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Painting at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an Education Assistant at the Walters Art Museum. Livi has exhibited both nationally and internationally, including recently participating in Viridian Gallery’s upcoming 30 Under 30 show in New York City. She is a 2017 Bethesda Trawick Young Artist Award Winner, and a 2017 Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Semi-Finalist.


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See Here

About the Work Giulia Piera Livi uses unorthodox materials to create three-dimensional works that mimic everyday household objects. Her strangely proportioned and oddly distorted objects inhabit installations that challenge our sense of space and reality. Her fully immersive installations form their own kind of spatial logic, creating an environment where these strange objects seem right at home. The objects in Play Date, her project for Spring

SOLOS 2018, evoke functional features of a living environment – but without the functionality and purpose of the objects that inspire them. The viewer is invited to interact with certain objects in the room, by turning on lights, for example, or releasing sand from a spigot. These interactions serve no clear functional purpose, except perhaps to draw the viewer more fully into Livi’s carefully crafted world.


About the Artists NICK PRIMO earned an MFA from Rinehart School of Sculpture at MICA in 2014, and a BS in

Art Education from Central Connecticut State University in 2006. He served as a public school art educator for half a decade, before relocating to Baltimore, MD to earn his Masters Degree. In addition to being an artist and freelance furniture maker/cabinetmaker, he currently works as an Exhibits Specialist for Smithsonian American Art Museum. His work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions at School 33 (Baltimore, MD), Current Gallery (Baltimore, MD), Washington Project for the Arts (Washington, DC), Whole Gallery (Baltimore, MD) and Grizzly Grizzly (Philadelphia, PA), among other venues.

complicating minimalist aesthetic forms with material experimentation


12 SPRING SOLOS 2018 ¡ Arlington Arts Center

How many lives must I live

About the Work Nick Primo uses a visual language drawn from construction, architecture, object design, furniture-making, and cabinetry to create minimal sculptural abstractions, prints, and drawings. Referencing familiar forms based on mass-produced and functional objects, Primo’s sculptures and drawings explore the ways form is imbued with meaning. Primo draws on the legacies of minimalism, complicating minimalist aesthetic forms with material experimentation, infusions of color, and the use of prefabricated materials. Minimalism was identified both with pristine,


crisp objects and with the professional industrial fabrication services that were used to achieve them. In Move to the edge and over, a plaster form created from a plastic drain pipe is draped over and attached to a steel armature. By fusing the rough functionality of construction materials with the clean lines of minimalism, Primo both connects the minimalist aesthetic to the industrial production that made it possible and elevates the mundane functionality of construction materials.

About the Artist JERRY TRUONG is an interdisciplinary artist

whose work deals with issues of history and memory as they relate to the exercise of power and the residuals of trauma. Truong received his BA from the University of California, Irvine and his MFA from the University of California, San Diego. He has had solo exhibitions at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL), Hood College (Frederick, MD), and Lycoming College (Williamsport, PA). His work has been shown at venues such as the VAALA Cultural Center (Santa Ana, CA), American University Museum (Washington, DC), CUE Foundation (New York, NY), and Flashpoint Gallery (Washington, DC). He was a fellow at Hamiltonian Artists from 2012-14 and a member of the Sparkplug Collective at DC Arts Center from 2014-16.

JERRY TRUONG 14 SPRING SOLOS 2018¡ Arlington Arts Center

imagining the landscape that acted as both escape route and mortal threat to those fleeing their homeland

Từ Nước (To Be from Water/To Leave the Motherland)

About the Work Jerry Truong’s artistic practice draws on the incomplete and informal archive of images and memories passed down from his parents, who fled war-torn Vietnam by boat. They spent time in a refugee camp in Thailand before settling in the United States where Truong, born in California, grew up largely oblivious to the trauma that they had endured. For Spring SOLOS 2018, the artist presents large-scale drawings created from charcoal and incense ash from a Vietnamese ancestral


altar. The drawings depict land, water, and sky, imagining the landscape that acted as both escape route and mortal threat to those fleeing their homeland. The full installation invokes the memory of two extended family members – an uncle and an aunt – who did not complete the journey. For the artist, mixing the charcoal with incense ash was an act of commemoration, oscillating between mourning and hope.

Mr Vibrato

Wyatt Resident Artists Gallery | Fantasy Will Set You Free

About the Work Negar Ahkami creates expressive, tactile paintings inspired by Iranian art and the many global visual traditions that intersect with Iran’s rich art history. Ahkami’s emphasis on rhythm and viscerality is inspired by NYC street art of the 1980s, German expressionism, and urban street life and dance club culture. The imagined dancers in Fantasy Will Set You Free invoke dance floors of the artist’s youth: in New York City night clubs, and at parties organized by Ahkami’s parents for the growing Iranian immigrant

community in the 1980s and 1990s. The work in Fantasy Will Set You Free places Iranian art and humanity in a broader, joyful context and continues Ahkami’s longtime engagement with Orientalism and stereotype subversion. Above all, the exhibition is an impassioned escape from depressing news, for the viewer as well as the artist. Ahkami relives the spirit of the dance floor in her studio practice, by getting lost in spontaneous gestures, flamboyant poses, and a riot of rhythmic patterns.


About the Artist NEGAR AHKAMI was born in Baltimore and raised in the New York area. She attended The

Art Students League of New York in her formative years, received her BA from Columbia University in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, and her MFA from School of Visual Arts, NY. She has participated in Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency and Governor’s Island Residency, and, since 2016, AAC’s Long-term Artist Residency. She has had three solo exhibitions in New York at Leila Heller Gallery and LMAK Projects. Her work has been included in group exhibits in museums and galleries, and is represented nationally and internationally in public, corporate and private art collections, such as The New Britain Museum of American Art, Depaul University Art Museum, and the Farjam Collection (UAE). Her work has been reviewed and written about in The New York Times, ArtNews and in various art books such as Talinn Grigor, Contemporary Iranian Art: From the Street to the Studio (Reaktion, 2014), Different Sames, New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art (Thames & Hudson 2009), and others.



Exhibitions Spring SOLOS 2018 | Main & Lower Level Galleries April 14 – June 2, 2018 Negar Ahkami: Fantasy Will Set You Free | Wyatt Resident Artists Gallery

April 14 – June 2, 2018

Events Spring SOLOS 2018 Opening Reception & Resident Open Studios

April 14, 6 - 9 pm Rated Art 2018

May 12, 8 - 11 pm Spring SOLOS 2018 Gallery Talk & Closing Reception

June 2, 1 - 3 pm

Classes & Workshops Weekly Classes for Kids, Teens, & Adults

April 23 – June 13

Fantastic Fiber for Ages 7-10

April 25 – June 13

Wonderful Watercolor

April 23 – June 11

Summer Camps for Ages 4-18

June 25 – August 31

Advance registration is required For more information about our classes and to register online visit us at Back Pages: Phaan Howng, In The Twilight Glow I See Them (detail) 18 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.


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