WPA Celebrates 40 Years of Creativity with Inaugural Exhibit Honoring Washington Produced Artists

The inaugural exhibition in the new space will serve as a proud recognition of local artists who created significant works in conjunction with WPA early in their careers and who have since built esteemed reputations. Washington Produced Artists will feature work by longtime D.C. metro-area resident artists William Christenberry, Jim Sanborn, Joyce J. Scott and Dan Steinhilber, with a mobile public art project created by Workingman Collective, a video installation by Michelle Lisa Herman, and an opening night performance collaboration by Maida Withers and Brian Kane.

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS

William Christenberry showed photography, sculpture and even neon with WPA throughout the 1980s as well as serving on the Board of Directors from 1980-1986. The image of the District presented in his rarely exhibited, photographic series of Washington storefronts from 1970-72 stands in stark contrast to today’s cityscape. Most of the facades he captured with a Brownie camera are long gone, but for both new and old residents, they recover a historic authenticity.

Jim Sanborn constructed massive outdoor installations for the WPA’s “Washington Art Site” projects from 1980-1983. In this exhibition, he presents an installation from “Without Provenance: the Making of Contemporary Antiquity,” a provocative new series of sculptures and text exploring the widespread looting and forgery in Khmer antiquities, permitted by the collusion of the marketplace.

Joyce J. Scott, a lifelong Baltimorean, exhibited at the WPA in the early 1980s, and was included in the important exhibition Alternatives by Black Artists (1980) curated by Keith Morrison. Widely recognized for her exquisite craftsmanship and bold themes addressing race and gender, WPA will show several examples of her beaded and glass works incorporating African sculpture.

Dan Steinhilber, was sponsored by the WPA in a 2010 residency at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York. Known for unexpected uses of unconventional materials, he will create a new work channeling brightly colored liquids in a liquid landscape, reminiscent of the Washington Color School paintings. 

The ever-changing, ever-engaging Workingman Collective first disrupted the District space in 1983 in the form of a collective called “Dog Dream Project.” With the participatory, parade-like mapping project, “Twine,” the working men and women will revisit all former WPA homes in chronological order, accompanied by drummers and anyone else eager to revisit the past and purposely walk into the present.

Michelle Lisa Herman will exhibit a newly commissioned version of her 2014 installation, Mirror Mirror, which will feature WPA artists and curators spanning the forty-year history of the organization. Herman is an interdisciplinary WPA member artist who lives and works in Washington, DC. She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2008 with a BFA in general fine art and art history.

Maida Withers participated in the inaugural exhibition of the WPA in April 1975. She served on the Board of Directors for many years, and remains a revered institution in the Washington dance and performance community. Maida Withers Dance Construction Company perform Anonyty - live interactions, blurring the lines between the real and the virtual, a collaboration of Brian Kane, visual artist, and Maida Withers to celebrate the WPA November opening. 

ABOUT THE CURATOR

Laura Roulet is an independent curator and writer, specializing in contemporary and Latin American art. She was one of five international curators chosen for the citywide public art project, 5 x 5, a major initiative sponsored by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities in 2012. She has organized exhibitions in Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. including at the Art Museum of the Americas, the Mexican Cultural Institute, Artisphere, Hillyer Art Space, Project 4, Fusebox and the DC Art Center. Recent exhibits include the National Drawing Invitational (Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR), CSA: 40 Years of Community-Sourced Art (Arlington Arts Center, VA), Frances Gallardo: Meteorology (Target Gallery), Sculpting Outside the Lines, an outdoor sculpture exhibit in Foggy Bottom and Medios y ambientes in Mexico City. She is currently the mentoring curator for VisArts in Rockville, MD and is organizing Come Back to Rockville!, a participatory, public art.



Special thanks to the City Fund for their support of Washington Produced Artists.

Washington Project For the Arts Inc. is supported by the City Fund, which works to make the District of Columbia a more healthy, stable, and vibrant place to live for all its residents. The City Fund is administered by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.

Dates

November 14 – December 19, 2015

Location

Washington Project for the Arts
2124 8th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Opening reception

November 14, 2015, 6–9pm

Photo gallery

courtesy of Tony Hitchock
courtesy of Tony Hitchock
Maida Withers Dance Construction Company performs "Anonyty," a collaboration between Maida Withers and Brian Kane. Photo courtesy Tony Hitchcock
Maida Withers Dance Construction Company performs "Anonyty," a collaboration between Maida Withers and Brian Kane. Photo courtesy Tony Hitchcock
Photo courtesy of Tony Hitchock
WPA staff. Photo courtesy Tony Hitchcock
Photo courtesy of Tony Hitchock
Photo courtesy of Tony Hitchock
Maida Withers Dance Construction Company performs "Anonyty," a collaboration between Maida Withers and Brian Kane. Photo courtesy Tony Hitchcock
Photo courtesy of Tony Hitchock