Hypotheses On view in Target Gallery | September 11 – October31, 2021

Juror's Statement | Sue Wrbican

Target Gallery invites artists working in all visual arts to apply for the upcoming group exhibition Hypotheses. This exhibition is all about the process of intellectual experimentation and/or the exploration of new ideas and techniques in an artist’s practice. The goal of this theme is to create a dialogue of work in conversation with each other about embarking outside one’s traditional boundaries of understanding. Whether it be based in cerebral or scientific research or embarking on a new technique or conceptual idea, each work in the exhibition will embody this concept of questioning and discovery.

“The movement of ideas, from one to another, formed what is now this exhibition. As I speculated how each piece might contribute to what was asked of Hypotheses, the process of considering and reconsidering each work’s “message” occasioned questions about our existence. My decisions came about through the certain poetic stirrings the works presented me with, shifting my consciousness from one to the next while they imagined futures, compressed time, considered histories on top of histories with layered vulnerabilities and resilience over accidents. All further experimentations with the unfamiliar. An “outcome” as it were. Hopeful in many ways, but also mindful of loss.

Juror's Statement continued

Exploring the works and reading the statements of each artist I could not help thinking about the shift from 2019 to 2021. Before this we could move through grocery stores and museums without pandemic precautionary measures. And then that movement was suddenly cropped. Trillions of collective thoughts now turn toward what might come after this, what will there be? Most works here created during this time period carried an undertone of changing conditions. Now, in trying to untangle the changes, I wonder how to comprehend lessons for the future. It is a time where many artists, including myself, question what it’s all about, do we go deeper into our comfort of our meditative practices or calibrate in response to the reality of challenging times?

Technology provided us with social tools that anyone with the means can easily learn and employ. Recollecting an era in the not too distant past, when it was declared that the medium was the message and everyone would be famous for 15 minutes I wondered; how much more of it is necessary? How much do we really want? As I wrote this statement US troops were being pulled out of Afghanistan and we witnessed the very real and disturbing imagery of desperate people clinging to airplanes due to their fear of what was to come. It is a difficult reconciliation, this present.

It’s hard to know what the imaginations of artists will project into that future, but the ability to work through hard times and produce work with uncertainty is certainly a privilege. Maybe at some point, technology will be our ancestor and a new being will be programmed with the ability to calibrate peaceful situations instead of the state of this world in 2021.

—Sue Wrbican

About the Juror

Sue Wrbican is an artist interested in intersections of the environment, economics, labor and surrealism. Recent projects explore the work of surrealist artist Kay Sage, resulting in towering sculptures inspired by her paintings. These works include Buoyant Force, now installed in front of the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston, Va., and The Eventual Outcome of an Instant on the grounds of the Seligmann Center in Sugar Loaf, N.Y. Wrbican has presented works in other venues such as Latela Gallery, Greater Reston Art Center, and the Zizek Studies conference at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. Her video Back Roof is part of Miranda July’s Joanie 4 Jackie Archive at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Collaborative works include Scream at the Economy with the Floating Lab Collective and The Frozen Car with Mary Carothers. Wrbican had residencies at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Fla., Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, Ca., and The Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. She teaches in the School of Art at George Mason University. She holds an MFA in potography from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in English writing with a concentration in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh.

Winnie van der Rijn (New York, NY), Hanging On By A Thread/Coming Apart At The Seams, 2020. Thread sewn onto soluble substrate and dissolved. $5000.

“I have been experimenting with soluble substrate for a few years. This alternate American flag was made by stitching on a soluble substrate. I created it during the pandemic lockdown and protests last summer and then dissolved it on my front porch with the help of my children. I started with the question of truth. Is there objective truth? If we wash away the lies what will we find? The activation was a cathartic release, a ritual cleansing. What remains is a husk, evidence of a former self, a ghost of the past with hope for the future and the possibility to move forward. Are we left with enough truth to rebuild?”

—Winnie van der Rijn

Liz Stewart (Washington, DC), Jump In, 2019. Acrylic. $1000.

“The theme of this piece deals with death before life. The Kananga are present and surround the main figure as if they had ushered his soul to rejoin the heavens.”

—Liz Stewart

Jayne Matricardi (Fairfax, VA), Wish You Were Here, 2020-2021. Mixed Media: Wood, Canvas, Gesso, Image Transfers. $2000.

Wish You Were Here is an experimental piece, as it is an entirely new form of presentation in my work. I was inspired to recreate my own version of a traditional ‘crankie box’, popular in the mid-1800’s as interactive narratives. In my crankie box, I created a panoramic scroll of ghosted postcards-- memories collected from around the world by my grandfather during his time as a Merchant Marine in World War II. As I transferred the images, I forced a continuous horizon line by revealing only parts of the original image, allowing portions to remain obscured or semi-obscured with the paper backing. In doing so I question the distinction between past and present, and propose an alternative, in which a seamless path is forged from my ancestors to my children.

—Jayne Matricardi

Gregory Logan Dunn (Arlington, VA), Velocity Crowns, 2019. Acrylic on Canvas. $475.

“When we as a civilization advance in areas like technology, these changes affect everything while changing nothing. We have to measure what we as a people have gained versus what is overlooked.

Unseen in a cloud of exhaust from a billionaire’s rocket, he can video chat on his watch as he approaches the threshold of space, but he can’t see a man being beaten to death by cops because they turned the cameras off. The king wears a shiny gold crown and never sees the miner that dies in the darkness.”

—Gregory Logan Dunn

Mia Rollins (Providence, RI), Where It Beams Out to You, 2021. Video Projection on Salt and 3D print installation. NFS.

“I have been asking myself these questions: what does it mean for our systems to glitch, our minds to breakdown, our bodies to age? What is lost in the voids between the physical, digital, and spiritual? How can we grieve what is lost in translation? How might we communicate notions of love, grief, and hope across differences, across species, across planets? And how do we find beauty, even absolution, in entropy? This work explores longing and connection across distance, using the story of how Fitzgerald's I'll Be Seeing You was beamed out to the Opportunity Rover before the Rover was shut off in 2019. It asks the questions: ‘How do you retire a robot? How do you say goodbye when you cannot get the chance to see something one last time?’"

—Mia Rollins

Stephen Nakatani (Virginia Beach, VA), One Vote, One Voice, 2021. Digital Photography. $150.

“The gravity of the recent push for uncompromising, overarching equality for all, signifies a great hypothesis in action - the American Democracy. The artist in me felt an urgency to communicate the work necessary for growth, the severity of need, and the non-permanence of the moment. So, as a landscape photographer, I began searching my surroundings for expressive compositions. The challenge I set for myself was to capture intangible human constructs and actions with only manufactured objects photographed as found. One Vote, One Voice illustrates the value of voting, the power of a citizen’s voice. The past several elections have been proving grounds for the importance of an inclusive and functioning Democracy. Competent candidates and confidence in counts helps, too.”

—Stephen Nakatani

Sasha de Koninck (Boulder, CO), Unlearning the Body from the Garment, 2020. Textile. $200.

Unlearning the Body from the Garment is about unlearning the relationship between the prescribed parts of a garment pattern and their designated body parts. How did an armhole become an armhole? Why does an arm have to go through a sleeve? Where did these relationships come from? How were these relationships created? Why does a garment have the parts that it has? This unlearning is done by working to look at a flat garment pattern as an abstract shape and disregard notions of how it is worn or how it will interact with the human form. The garment pattern is now a flat shape that can create three dimensional forms, but the parts are no longer regarded. Armholes. Neck holes. Fronts. Backs. Busts. Waists. These no longer hold any meaning. The garment pattern is a form for possibility. What is now created can be worn on any body, in any way.

—Sasha de Koninck

Jang Soon Im (Long Island City, New York), November 27, 1982, January 24, 1997, 2020. Pencil, ink, digital printing collage on mulberry paper. $300 (each).

“In my recent work, I selected newspapers from the 1980’s and 90’s appropriating the texts and photographs of articles that mainly show historical events in Korea.”

—Jang Soon Im

Julia Clouser (Baltimore, MD), Sea Gem Vacation, 2018. Archival inkjet prints, wooden shelves. $3,400.

“My practice rotates around themes of perception, memory, and place. I work to understand how we perceive or fail to perceive moments in their natural context, and how this can expose the tension between the familiar fading away and the unfamiliar appearing. My recent work uses imagery appropriated from my grandfather’s standard 8mm family films shot in Florida throughout the 1960s and 70s. These films were shot on a camera that unexpectedly exposed the film outside of its standardized frame, creating moments existing only in the film’s margins. By appropriating the space where the image has bled out of the frame, I am also creating a space for overlooked moments to be noticed within projects that require the labor of reading images.”

—Julia Clouser

Jeff Che Yeh (Providence, RI) Yingheng Huang (Providence, RI), all I have to do is, 2021. Video. NFS.

“A collaborative video created with my partner, where we explore labor politics through performance and pig-related media. We started to be interested in the pig after re-watching several pig-related cartoons—ones that we were fed with while growing up. In these anthropomorphic cartoons, pigs are oftentimes stand-ins for laboring bodies, bodies that are dis-assemble into productive parts. For example, in Three Little Pigs, the only way for pigs to withstand the wolf is to devote themselves to labor— building houses. We resonate with pigs partly because of the way laboring has congested our everyday lives and partly because our bodies are also organized by capitalist society through its advocacy for productivity and uniformity. This video manifests the process of us learning and thinking about our relationship to capital, and we see it as an attempt to thwart assimilation by creating chaos.”

—Jeff Che Yeh

Anne Yoncha (Ada, OK), Succession, A Visual Score (in collaboration with composer Shari Feldman and cellist Julia Marks), 2019. Digital overlay mixed media drawing on top of MIDI biodata recorded from an eastern red cedar (red) and mixed prairie grasses directly below its canopy (blue). NFS.

“Because of increased human settlement and changes in fire regimes, eastern red cedar (though native) is increasingly outcompeting mixed prairie grasses in the Ogallala, NE area. The tree is a pioneer species indicative of the beginning of forest succession. This shift from grassland to forest poses a particular problem for species such as the Sand Hill crane, since the Big Bend area of the Platte River (near Ogallala) is a pinch point in its migration path. Succession depicts mixed prairie grasses found on site at Cedar Point Biological Station within the shape of one large cedar. I recorded two minutes of MIDI biodata of prairie grass (shown in the blue digital overlay) and red cedar (shown in red) from the same location, using a galvanometer sensor. The biodata is then sonified with a multi-track cello recording.”

—Anne Yoncha

Barg Upender (Potomac, MD), Zoom Farewell, 2021. Acrylic on Canvas. $2000.

“There was no goodbye. The nurse held up an iPhone in the ER. One by one the family joined the zoom video with a heavy heart to witness the last breath. There was some hope we saw movement on the silent screen. There were no words, there were no hugs, there was no comfort. There was no goodbye. In loving memory of Madhusudan Bhatt, March One, Two Thousand Twenty One.”

—Barg Upender

Mira Hecht (Chevy Chase, MD), Fracture, 2021. Watercolor and Graphite. $1800.

“During these past few months I've been exploring fractured space in my paper pieces. This differs quite a bit from the pictorial space long explored in my oil paintings. I devised a technique of painting the whole piece, then tearing off the borders and reversing them on the edges of the center piece. Once placed where I want them, the center and four borders are attached to another piece of Arches paper.

So much in all our lives has been disrupted that disjointing and breaking up the pictorial space in my work feels both necessary and appropriate.”

—Mira Hecht

Samantha Holmes (New York, NY), Equilibrium V, 2021. Marble, Mother’s hair. $3,200.

“Hair has the weight-for-weight strength of steel. Yet we equate hair with femininity and fragility, forgetting that this femininity can mean strength, too – a strength that resides in its very flexibility, in being able to bear much more than it appears. A strength that doesn’t show itself in solidity, but in softness. I have just begun work on a new series of minimalist sculptures in which three-dimensional forms of cement or stone are held in careful equilibrium by individual strands of human hair. Collected during the period of hair loss following the birth of my child in 2019–a common bi-product of soaring hormone levels during pregnancy–these hairs speak to the uncanny union of strength and delicacy that is the maternal body, as well as to the deeper psychological and conceptual challenges of motherhood: the ever-shifting equilibrium of self and other.”

—Samantha Holmes

Julia Paul (Blacksburg, VA), Squirrel in Greenhouse/California, 2021. Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas. $2000.

“This work is from the series Disaster, which are works based on photographs of disaster events or their aftermath, which are used as a reference for the basic compositional structure then overlaid with personal imagery that explores loss and growth. Each of the disaster images provide access to moments that have not been widely seen before our era of ubiquitous photography. The images contain subjects that are beautiful and traumatic, essential and horrific. The framework of the disaster imagery is eventually both revised and obliterated with my original imagery and transformed with new meaning, often with remnants of the original image remaining. This process refers more broadly to the way trauma forces a basis of disruption, which can lead to an evolution of renewal and replacement that is built upon it.”

—Julia Paul

Joshua Unikel (Houston, TX), Homing II, 2019. Screenprint and digital print on archival paper. $2000.

Homing II hypothesizes that language and letterforms are always already full of history and ambivalence, meaning and materiality. Combining approaches from graphic design and Concrete Poetry, Homing II examines the lineage and tensions of Cyrillic, both as a language created by two emigrants and as a language that itself emigrated to over one third of the world.”

—Joshua Unikel

Thea Clark (Greensboro, NC), Untitled 1, 2021. Mixed Media. $1270.

“As an object maker this work represents a new direction of wall mounted mixed media on paper works. Data in the form of storm system isobars, flood plain maps, as well as fabric, and paper are woven, knotted, sewn, printed, and painted.”

—Thea Clark

Tamao Nakayama (Woodbridge, VA), Sea Ice #2, 2021. Acrylic paint, polyester film. $375.

“This series of paintings began with materials. I dropped a clear plastic painters-palette one day, and it landed upside down. I was struck by the beauty of the layers of color showing through from the water-like surface. I said to myself, ‘This should be developed, not thrown away.’

A depiction of icy water would bring the best out of these materials, so I spent the winter staring at the river near my home. I tested different materials to simulate the ice and developed a recipe for paint that mimicked cracked surfaces. I needed to paint the front first and the background last, and it took much experimentation to make that happen. Materials inspire me to innovate, and these materials inspired me to create new techniques.”

—Tamao Nakayama

Fanni Somogyi (Baltimore, MD), Cross Species Connections, 2021. Bronze, steel, flocking. $2100.

“This sculpture is part of a new body of work comprising of the repetition of a cast gourd and additional elements that are ‘converging’ with the vegetable. The series began as thought exercises and conceptual research into the coexistence of critters and thinking about ways sustainable living. Cross Species Connections speculates about the metamorphosis of a gourd and a spider, giving agency to the plant. While plants are often seen as passive, I have given this vegetable legs to walk off with and an antenna. Imagining this ‘alien’ being pushes one to consider other beings and what other forms of life may be in the universe.”

—Fanni Somogyi

Dave Kube (Lancaster, PA), CE01, 2019. Photography sculpture. $500.

“Our understanding of the world operates at various levels of illusion. Photo theory calls us to question the validity of things we see and understand through looking at photographs. Scientific theories suggest we are possibly just computer programs being run by some advanced civilization or just a 2D hologram that we perceive to be a 3D world. Queer theory shows us how gender and sexuality are socially constructed concepts informed by structures of power, history, and repetition. In each of these instances, we are called to be better critical observers of the reality we have been conditioned to understand. This work brings together these ideas of illusion and theory. The boundaries of traditional photography are digitally altered and stretched into 3D forms that act as a gateway to nontraditional worlds that make space for marginalized communities. They resist assimilation and ask us to question the world we know and understand.”

—Dave Kube

Adam Bradley (Washington, DC), Desiccated Spiders, 2021. Ceramic. $650.

“These ceramic hands were inspired by a friend’s description of how he felt after his COVID vaccine shot. He said he woke up curled up with all his limbs drawn in like a dying spider. I wanted to make something that held tension and frustration. Ceramics is a new media for me and I am still learning the process. It was a media I could work with at home and bring back to the college to fire when opened.”

—Adam Bradley

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.