Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Connected Spaces

Exhibit through October 2nd

Artist Talk, Sunday, September 11th at 2 pm

The Athenaeum

201 Prince Street

Connections are integral to the human experience. We are connected beings – driven to seek attachment and belonging, community and engagement. During the normal course of a day, our joys and challenges are sustained by connections near and far, physically present and internalized.

Elizabeth Casqueiro, A Sudden Change in Direction (detail), Acrylic and ink on canvas, 40” x 30”

In this exhibition, Elizabeth Casqueiro and Jean Sausele-Knodt explore in different ways the meaning of connection as it pertains to space and sense of being. Casqueiro’s paintings bring together architecture, nature, and culture in a deconstructed, collage-like approach that echoes the universal yearning for connection to the fragmented places we are defined by. Sausele-Knodt addresses the realities of abundance and fragmentation in our world by studying spaces, creating various parts and pieces, and building newly personalized and animated gatherings in her wall relief sculptures.

 Jean Sausele-Knodt, Wishful Thinking, oil on walnut, birch plywood, 19” x 21” x 12”

Both artists strive to create connected spaces as areas of balance and harmony, joy and possibility. Their work presents these common characteristics through a spirited palette, overlapping elements, constructed compositions, and painstaking craftsmanship.

“Orb with Moon,” 41″ x  30″, rust print on archival paper

Chemical Reactions, Rust Create Beautiful Prints in Brian Kirk’s “Natural Reaction

Exhibit dates: September 6–October 7, 2018

Opening reception: Thursday, September 13, 6:30–8:00 pm

The Art League – Studio 21

Torpedo Factory

105 North Union Street

Sculptor and printmaker Brian Kirk courts chemical reactions to create ephemeral, phantom-like prints from rusting metal. A marriage of art and science, Kirk’s rust prints bloom in hues of lush amber, ochre, and apricot. Born of rigid metal, from saw blades to steel wool, the prints that emerge are organic, almost cellular. “Rust used to be my nemesis as a welder—any nicks or scrapes in my steel sculptures had to be repainted to prevent rust. I made peace with rust through this process,” Kirk remarked.

To create his rust prints, Kirk fashions an outdoor printing press by sandwiching a composition of flat metal objects—keys, nails, or his own iron sculptures—between two sheets of thick watercolor paper or linen. Weighted under a marble slab, the metal objects are submerged in a solution of soapy water for several months. A redox reaction occurs, as water and oxygen corrode Kirk’s compositions, leaving behind ghostly imprints in shades of chestnut, sienna, and umber. Kirk remarked that this process is “unpredictable—and that’s what makes it interesting to me.”

Iron oxide particles often pool in rusty halos around the metal objects, softening sharp edges and lending the prints an ethereal quality. Some of his prints, like “Trilogy,” feature vivid washes of cerulean, due to the addition of indigo dye. Like steel, indigo dye is a reactive material, creating its signature blue stain when dye and oxygen mingle.

Kirk’s “Votive Hand” beckons viewers with a single open palm, a radiant white circle pierced through the middle. Reminiscent of religious icons, this fawny brown palm was sculpted with a plasma cutter before undergoing its rusty rebirth. According to Kirk, “Votive Hand” was inspired by a Hopewell Indian artifact: a mica effigy hand found in a burial mound near Chillicothe, Ohio.

As an artist and naturalist, Kirk hopes viewers will join in his wonderment of the natural world, appreciating that everything—water, plants, animals, humans, art, science—is interconnected. “Art doesn’t just happen in a vacuum; it’s a part of living,” Kirk reflected. Just as rust has become a ubiquitous part of our urban landscape, Kirk hopes art, in all forms, remains an essential part of the human experience.

Kirk received his BA in Fine Arts from George Washington University and his Masters in Interdisciplinary Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has received grants to study and teach across the globe, including Beijing, China, and Shizuoka, Japan. His work has been exhibited throughout the DC area, including the Frank Raflo Park Sculpture Trail, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Center, and George Washington University, where he recently held a solo exhibition. Kirk continues to experiment with rust printing techniques, and teaches Metal Sculpture at The Art League school in Alexandria, VA. He also serves as the Fine Arts Department Chair at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, VA.

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