August 4-27, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, August 4, 6-9pm
Melanie Gritzka-del Villar (DC)
Gritzka del Villar’s practice is shaped by her ongoing search for harmony out of disparate cultural and environmental elements. This translates into a sensibility towards cast away or overlooked objects as holders of fleeting meaning and of latent possibilities for alternative narratives.
In 2016, Gritzka del Villar attended a month-long artist residency in the city of Puebla in Mexico to explore the evidence of trade routes between Mexico and her home country, the Philippines. For two and a half centuries, Mexico and the Philippines were under Spanish domination. During this period (1565 to 1815), huge vessels would navigate the Pacific, from the port of Acapulco (Mexico) to Manila (the Philippines). The complete trade route transported cargo such as silver, silk, porcelain, and spices, from Seville in Spain to the Mexican port of Veracruz, overland through strategically positioned cities such as Puebla, to the port of Acapulco, on to Manila and back. This colossal enterprise ensured a rich intermingling and assimilation of customs, traditions, language and aesthetics. The works presented in this exhibition show the artist’s reflections on a shared past in relation to the Spanish colonial expansion in the Pacific.
Gritzka del Villar uses found objects, photographs, stories and maps as springboard to transcend historical facts and to delve in the poetic possibilities of events. Driftwood fragments collected on the shores of Philippine islands are juxtaposed with photographic plaster transfers portraying wall textures from the old town of Puebla. The gel transfers of old maritime maps representing the galleons’ voyage across the Pacific provide a metaphor for the inherent instability of cartography as historical construction. The artist has infused the maps with fictional anecdotes, giving a personal touch to the otherwise anonymous diagrams.
Then there’s the Mexican popular legend of the “China Poblana”. The myth is based on the historical figure of an Asian woman (Indian? Filipina?) called “Mirrha” who was shipped to Mexico in 1620 and baptised as “Catarina de San Juan”. She lived in Puebla as a servant and gradually morphed into the popular symbol of Mexican femininity as “La China Poblana” in the 19th century. By reenacting the myth using her own choice of characters, Gritzka del Villar expands on existing popular narratives and stereotypes and hints at the constant evolution of cultural constructs.
Through her exhibition “Re-tracing Roots / Routes” Gritzka del Villar renders a divergent, more personal perspective on the era of the Spanish Galleon trade, allowing her to reimagine her own identity which surges between Europe, Mexico and the Philippines.
Melanie Gritzka del Villar, born 1982 of German-Philippine parents, has lived, worked and stud-ied in Germany, Spain, England, Thailand, and the Philippines. She holds a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Staffordshire University, UK, as well as an MA in Art History from The Open University, UK. Gritzka del Villar has exhibited in numerous venues internationally. She is currently based in Washington D.C.
juried by Mary Early
Featuring work from artists across the United States, CREATE/CHANGE is an all-media, juried exhibition featuring work that examines the idea of the artist as citizen. Artists who, through their work, reimagine the traditional notions of art-making, and who contribute to society either through the transformative power of their artistic abilities, or through proactive social engagement with the arts, advancing equity, empathy, sustainability, and social justice through art and culture.
Selected artists: Sobia Ahmad (MD), Kamal Al Mansour (CA), Gary Duehr (MA), Jimmy Fike (AZ), Jonathan Clyde Frey (PA), Michal Gavish (DC), Kay Gordon (NY), Mia Halton (MD), Katie Hargrave (TN), Linda Hesh (VA), Cathy Immordino (CA), Andrea Limauro (MD), Diane N’Diaye (MD), Lauren Peterson (GA), Paul Shortt (DC), Ann Stoddard (MD), Caitlin Vitalo (PA)
About the juror: Mary Early is the director of HEMPHILL Fine Arts, a Washington, DC gallery founded in 1993. The gallery presents exhibitions of modern and contemporary art at its primary location as well as a special exhibitions at Carroll Square Gallery, and temporary projects at 1700 L Street. She serves on the boards of Hamiltonian Artists and Washington Sculptors Group and is a co-chair of the Bennington College Alumni Cooperative, DC Chapter. She has a particular interest in public art and community engagement, as well as the materials and processes of contemporary sculpture. Early studied visual art, film and video at Bennington College and has exhibited at the United States Botanic Garden, Washington Project for the Arts, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA, the Austrian Cultural Forum, Washington DC, Galerie Im Ersten, Vienna, Austria, and Schloss Salem, Salem, Germany, among other regional and national galleries. She will exhibit at Kunstlerbund Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany in May 2017; also in 2017 Early will complete a large-scale installation of beeswax lines at the American University Art Museum, Washington, DC.
Inside each of us exists infinite worlds, and the purpose of this show is to examine these various dimensions at a physical and conceptual level. Alexandra Chiou is intrigued by the physical contrasts in the landscape – light and dark, desert and water, barrenness yet abundance. She is amazed by the amount of life and the unexpected lushness found in the American Southwest. For instance, stumbling upon blooms in the crevices of rough terrain, or spotting magical rock formations with mysterious patterns that look man-made yet are natural. Just like the complex and multilayered land around us, we ourselves are filled with many dimensions and perspectives. A fusion of East and West has shaped Chiou’s way of thinking. Some of her pieces also delve into the duality of memory and landscape. In one of her works about personal journeys, water symbolizes an overwhelming unknown, but also progress and movement forward. Branches and roots, while both symbolize growth, represent an interesting contrast between nature and nurture. With this show, Infinite Worlds, Chiou hopes to create pieces that share her investigations of the external environment, reflections on the inner self, and a personal intersection of landscape and memory.
Alexandra Chiou is a visual artist and avid explorer inspired by the natural world and the linkages we share with our surrounding environment. In her most recent works, she explores infinite worlds—both real and imagined, conceptual and physical. She draws from the quiet beauty of the desert and looks inward to examine the dualities of the human experience. Chiou graduated from the University of Virginia in 2011 where she studied Studio Art and Commerce. Her work has been exhibited in a number of galleries across Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC including Hillyer Art Space, the Mansion at Strathmore, Adah Rose Gallery and Anacostia Arts Center. Her work has also been featured in The Washingtonian and the CBS 6 Virginia This Morning show. She previously served as a Fine Artist-in-Residence at the Strathmore in Bethesda, MD in 2015 and recently completed a summer residency at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles, CA.