A Year In On view in Target Gallery | July 24 – September 5, 2021

Juror’s Statement

“Now over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, a year marked for many by separation, anxiety, opposition, shut-down, stagnation and isolation, as well as being a year of change, growth, upheaval and introspection, the work presented in A Year In represents a small snapshot of how artists are responding to this tumultuous time. The title, A Year In, implies that we are not at the end of anything. Perhaps we’re coming out of it or perhaps we’re in a lull. It seems premature to reflect so soon but a lot has happened and these things tend to add up quickly so we might as well start now.

"The experiences of artists over the last year are not universal. Just like the experiences of non-artists during this time, they are shaped by identity, job security, personality and circumstance. What appears universal is a loss of control. For some, the past year has given space and time for profound reflection and for others it was simply a time for survival. The early days of the pandemic were marked by countless stories of people finally having the time to keep plants alive and dive deep into sourdough starters. Conditioned by capitalism and dealing with profound boredom for the first time, many turned to productivity to cope. Some artists followed suit and turned to the studio but many, or maybe even most, lacked motivation or the ability to physically make work in the way they once had. Contrary to popular belief, long periods of extreme distress are not conducive to the creative process. On top of that, shutdowns caused many to lose access to their studios.

"Work was made at home, collaborating with non-artist cohabitators; work was made in hotels while quarantined; and work was made on and through the computer reflecting the reality that for some, all human interaction was now through the lens of corporate video conferencing software. Things got lonely and when things got lonely… things got weird – and sometimes, a little funny. The majority of the work in this show falls into at least 1 of 4 categories: work that draws attention to the loneliness and isolation of the past year, work that marks a new way of working for the artist, work that involves reconnecting in new ways with people from whom we’ve been estranged and work that calls into question the ways we once lived long ago… back in 2019.

"It's funny curating a show that reflects on a year that still feels so present. At the risk of sounding like a reboot, (another staple of 2020), as I selected the work in this show, I couldn't help but wonder... will we look back on the work we made during this period and shake our heads at how little we understood about what we were experiencing, or has this bizarre time given us the super-human ability to see the Matrix as we dive deeper in out of necessity?”

—Nancy Daly

About the Juror

Nancy Daly is an artist and curator based in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of the Photographic and Electronic Media MFA program at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She lives and works in Washington, D.C., where she teaches photography, visual literacy, 2D design and 3D design at American University and George Mason University.

Mei Wu Lemmon (Laurel, MD), Not Alone 1, 2016. Photograph. $900.

“Goodbye, parting and eternity.”

—Mei Wu Lemmon

Jaqui Falkenheim (Arlington, VA), Zoom World, 2021. Mixed Media: Acrylic, Collage, Pencil, Watercolor Paper Mounted on Wood Panels. $1,200.

Zoom World is a reflection on how 2020 changed the ways we connect with others. For many, Zoom has allowed schools and jobs to continue online, and facilitated our participation in experiences and events we would not have been able to attend otherwise. However, communication through Zoom can feel artificial and distant, and it is difficult to stay present looking at a screen when a lot is happening behind us. This piece is in the form of a polyptych to express how with virtual communication we can feel distant from each other despite logging on at an agreed time and space. The nine sub-sections emulate the windows through which we have seen each other these last fifteen months. The graffiti-like texture reflects the many layers that exist beyond our tidy screens as well as the phrases that became part of our every day since March 2020."

— Jaqui Falkenheim

Meredith Starr (New York, NY) and Dayna Leavitt (London, UK), Are You There....I Couldn't Fall Back, 2021. C-Print. POR

Are You There is a transatlantic collaboration between former roommates Meredith Starr, an interdisciplinary artist in New York, and Dayna Leavitt, a photographer in London, culminating in a series of digital collage works. The series is a creation of escapist imagined space and place. The images are trace evidence of their digital conversations during the pandemic. These layered digital collages were created with images taken during various stages of the lockdown and became an ambiguous reflection of observations that blur where one ends and the other begins. This image focuses on views taken through windows during a year of forced distance and time. Titles for each work are derived from extracts of daily messages between the artists.”

—Meredith Starr, Dayna Leavitt

Amanda Hodes (Blackburg, VA), A Stream of Data Scrapes the Earth and Casts Me Through, 2021. Video with Audio. NFS

A Stream of Data Scrapes the Earth and Casts Me Through is a video piece composed of Google Earth walks in the locales of every person that I Zoomed with during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adopting the popular lockdown practice of walking, it meditates on the relationship between embodiment, place, and connection. Can closeness be simulated through our digital specters? What is the threshold between caretaking and surveillance? Through the sanitized, capitalistic medium of Google Earth, the piece searches for fraught connection—emotionally, physically, and digitally.”

—Amanda Hodes

Ron Longsdorf (Savannah, GA), Staying Fenced In, 2020. Polystyrene, Synthetic Grass, Synthetic Rope, Polymer Clay, Paint. $2,800

“An odd proportioned fence surrounds a scale model home with a lift gate. The model home has a pseudo skin surface feeling exposed and vulnerable.”

—Ron Longsdorf

Weina Li (New York, NY) Bus Station, 2021. Acrylic, glass, laminated glass. $1200

“To express shared life experience in Bus Station, I asked myself what are the things that always stay in my memory, even when I’m unconscious, because that must be some really strong feelings that are shared by all human beings. This bus station is one of the scenarios I found. To me a broken bus station expresses people’s desire for intimacy, and the impossibility of reaching it. Because they are both built and broken by humans."

—Weina Li

Kelli Rae Adams (Danville, VA), Is There Anybody Out There?, 2021. Digital Print. $5278

“This distorted wall calendar page marks the span of time between the WHO's declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic and the CDC's revised mask mandate for vaccinated individuals here in the US. Clearly the pandemic is far from over, both at home and abroad. The intention of this work, therefore, is merely to visualize the period when my own life was acutely impacted by the constraints of the pandemic and to acknowledge that this same stretch of months—give or take a few days or weeks on either end—was a time of deeply altered existence for countless others, as well.”

—Kelli Rae Adams

Juan Hinojosa (Woodside, NY), Two of Hearts, 2020. Mixed Media on PVC. $2,500

“Before COVID I didn't realize how lonely I was without my cat Missy, who I lost the year before. She was glorious. During the last twelve months I spent a lot of my days alone in my apartment talking to her as if she was still there. It felt therapeutic in some way to make these sculptures out of found materials and loneliness. With NY being the epicenter of the pandemic, I retreated into my home and I was forced to come to grips with a number of issues I have been putting off. Lucky for me I am a hoarder and I was able to make artwork during the last 12 months.”

—Juan Hinojosa

Betty Vera (North Adams, MA), Breathing, 2020. Jacquard Tapestry, Hand-Colored and Hand-Embroidered. $9000.

“Saturated with red, the color of fire and blood, Breathing is an abstract image of an oxygen tube. Symbolizing the universal need to breathe, the tube references both the deadly COVID pandemic and the tragic murder of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man in custody pleading, 'I can't breathe!' as a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.”

—Betty Vera

George Lorio (Rockville, MD), Split, 2021. Found Bark Attached to a Constructed Plywood Armature. $7000.

“Nature’s resource of trees is the source for oxygen, air pollution mitigation, carbon capture, limitation of soil erosion and city cooling via the arboreal canopy. These are by-products of photosynthesis: climate restoration through the normal life cycle of trees. I am presently using twigs and bark from neighboring gardens and parks to construct fictions of trees, stumps and logs; they are not renderings but reinterpretations of living forms. Constructing a sculpture alluding to a living tree with these waste pieces (relics) is a form of incantation-a poetic activity. An antidote to contemporary land development which appears to care more for denuding the landscape of trees in favor of barren parking lots and massive concrete and glass structures which are impervious to seed penetration and promotes tree removal.”

—George Lorio

Katy McCarthy (Napa, CA), Handle with Care, 2021. Wax, Cardboard Boxes, Packing Materials, Two-channel Digital Video. POR.

“I made soft wax casts of the parts of my body that have been injured or experience pain and shipped them to my mom, a chiropractor in California. Over FaceTime, my mom conducted a remote bodywork session where she manipulated and massaged my waxen body parts. The manipulated wax casts are shown here. I was thinking about what it means to be in a long-distance relationship with my mother. I wanted to cultivate ways of being physically present while we are apart. Sending surrogate body parts to my mom was an attempt to satisfy this need.”

—Katy McCarthy

Jake Foster (Philadelphia, PA), Webcam Aesthetics: BRB, Webcam Aesthetics: Steam and Stains, 2020. Inkjet Print, Digital Screenshots. $700 (each).

Webcam Aesthetics is an ongoing project which documents the interiors of webcam studios, spaces where sex workers livestream shows on the internet via webcam. By using screenshots and screen recordings as a photographic, documentary art practice during the model’s momentary absence, the images depict the space as seen by the viewer: mediated by the internet. The project now spans both a year before and after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the importance and meaning of the erotic webcam experience changed for me while in quarantine. Like much of the world, I stayed at home and connected with others online. Erotic webcamming became a mode of survival, a way of experiencing sexual intimacy with others and exploring my queer desire. As the pandemic progressed, Webcam Aesthetics documented erotic webcamming through its exponential growth. Additionally, my past experience as a webcam model makes this archival work a form of autoethnography.”

—Jake Foster

Sarah K. Williams (Brooklyn, NY), Dependable Shapes, 2020. Video. NFS.

Dependable Shapes explores imbalances between obligation, productivity, and human connection, seen directly through the lens of this past year. Through a progression of mundane gestures, a pair of dedicated workers depend on each other for basic needs in order to complete the task at hand. As roles shift between the supporter and the supported, communication breaks down and focus dissolves. In times of extreme uncertainty, how do our responsibilities towards one another both disrupt and strengthen our capacity for productivity? What does it mean to be truly self-sufficient, and is it even possible? How can communication effectively adapt to evolving relationships and conditions? What does it mean to 'take care?'”

—Sarah K. Williams

Manuela Mourao (Virginia Beach, VA), Primed, 2020. Assemblage. POR.

Primed is a 3D piece for which I repurposed a black metal bird cage and locked inside it a series of cardboard boxes from Amazon Prime, the ubiquitous delivery and streaming service. The cage of course alludes to the literal enclosure and isolation of quarantine; its black bars evoking the sinister aspect of prison—in this case, a metaphorical mental confinement or ideological conditioning that alienates us from our communities and imprisons us in our sheltered individuality. The boxes with their famous PRIME logo allude to two of the main systems that facilitate this alienation: consumerism and entertainment. Primed wants us to reflect on the ease with which we can exist in this state of alienation, and how comfortable such a prison may appear.”

—Manuela Mourao

Christian Hastad (Hillsdale, NY), Husky Puppy, 2021. Acrylic on Stretched Canvas. $4000.

Husky Puppy reflects on the performative aspect of virtual engagement as well as the increasingly blurred aesthetic of digital spaces. Through the use of airbrushed acrylic paint, Husky Puppy illustrates a clean, playful virtual character traveling through a flat, void environment. As Zoom meetings and online engagements became the primary method of interaction during the pandemic, an ever-present sensation of the flattening of everyday life occurred. Our new environment of social connection morphed into a room with a blank white wall as a backdrop. As actors, we were flattened into virtual icons of our former selves, no longer able to differentiate simulated experiences in the void of video calls from the dynamic reality of physical encounter.”

—Christian Hastad

Abby Zhang (Brooklyn, NY), I Never Cared For You, 2021. Wall Paint, Oil on Paper, Pencil on Paper, Polymer Clay, Food Package, Inkjet Print, Gouache on Paper, Kitchen Sponge, Red Pepper Flakes. POR.

I Never Cared For You is a wall installation with things I have collected and made during the time I spent in the isolation hotel in NYC after I got COVID. The work focuses on the experience throughout the month of isolating and getting back to normal life, as well as reconsidering the meaning of 'care.'”

—Abby Zhang

Mark Armbruster (Baltimore, MD), 82 rolls, 397 days, 2021. Archival Pigment Print. $1400.

“At the beginning of the pandemic we witnessed the hoarding of toilet paper, and the resulting shortages. This behavior struck me as odd, and I wondered how much do I really need? How much do my partner and I use? So, we began counting and saving the cores. What started as a way to understand and make sense of our own use and needs, ultimately turned into a device used to record and relate to the pandemic as a shared experience. A way of marking time, and progress. Like the pandemic, I wasn’t sure when this collection would end. As we entered 2021 and news of the vaccine and a new administration began to offer some hope to us I decided this collection would be photographed when my partner and I were fully vaccinated. The black tape on the shelves mark our first and second vaccination’s.”

—Mark Armbruster

About Target Gallery

Target Gallery is the contemporary exhibition space of Torpedo Factory Art Center, managed by the City of Alexandria's Office of the Arts, a division of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities.