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Sculptor Kendall Buster is bringing the exhibitions “Seed” and “Solstice” to the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston (courtesy Tephra ICA)

A solo exhibition by sculptor and microbiologist Kendall Buster will descend on Reston’s Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art on Dec. 9.

The exhibit, SEED, is presented in conjunction with Buster’s SOLSTICE, which will be on view at The Kreeger Museum in D.C. An opening reception and artist talk will be held at Tephra ICA (12001 Market Street, Suite 103) on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 6-8 p.m.

The exhibits will be on display through Feb. 25.

Both exhibits were curated by Tephra ICA Executive Director Jaynelle Hazard and belong to a series of three shows organized to mark the 50th anniversary of Tephra, a nonprofit previously known as the Greater Reston Arts Center.

In a press release, Tephra says the exhibits are fitting anniversary tributes because they emphasize “the significance of place while examining themes of life, future, and innovation.”

“We’re so pleased for this first-time partnership with The Kreeger Museum, through their guest artist program The Collaborative, to uplift and celebrate the work of D.C. art star Kendall Buster,” Hazard said in a statement. “Tephra ICA deeply values partnership and collaboration to help thoughtfully contextualize an artist’s work in the canon and it’s wonderful to work with institution that shares these values.”

Here’s more from Tephra on Buster’s work:

Trained as a microbiologist, Kendall Buster’s work suggests ideas of budding, merging, and hybridization, using abstract forms and high-tech materials to create objects that expand what we know of natural and made environments. Her practice examines the microscopic and the monumental, from works that allude to intimate, botanical illustrations to architectural drawings to life-size biomorphic vessels. With the gallery often assuming the role of a laboratory, Buster’s work interrogates the edges of free expression and posits new ways of thinking about what can and cannot be expressed.

SEED features a large-scale sculpture called “Radial Spin.” The exhibit — which was last on display in 1997 in Berlin, Germany — has accessible spaces and envelopes the viewer, intending to challenge viewers’ sense of perception.

SOLSTICE features “Model City (Constraint),” which uses “geometric abstraction” and modernist architecture to suggest an “unpopulated cityscape that seems filled with talking shadows.”

Buster received a bachelor’s degree from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in D.C. and a master’s in sculpture from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at American University’s Katzen Museum and the Kemper Museum in Kansas City.

The exhibit “Choosing to Portage” is currently on display at Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston (photo by Vivian Doering)

More changes may be on the horizon for Reston’s Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, following a brand and name change in recent years.

The institute — which was founded in 1974 as the Greater Reston Arts Center by local artists and residents — is actively fundraising for a new home in Reston as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

“Armed with a clear vision of the type of space we will need to house Tephra ICA for the next 50 years, the funds we raise today will help us begin the design and procurement process when the site for that new home is identified,” Sofia Blom, Tephra’s senior manager of gallery and communications, told FFXnow by email.

The institute has launched a “Tephra ICA at 50” capital campaign to raise $300,000.

According to Blom, Tephra hasn’t determined what it will do with the current space in Reston Town Center once it moves to a new location. The existing facility at 12001 Market Street, Suite 103, is owned by the gallery and was secured 20 years ago through a condition, or proffer, from town center developer Boston Properties.

The current facility requires improvements like exterior signage to prominently identify the space, along with enhanced visibility, accessibility accommodations, and information technology and audio visual upgrades to accommodate digital, film and media artwork, according to Tephra.

“We have been creative in pushing our current facility beyond its limits to present the ambitious exhibitions and programs we have hosted the past several years,” Blom wrote. “But to reach remaining unfulfilled goals, we eventually will need a new and expanded facility that offers capacity/capability we cannot secure in our current space.”

In the long term, Tephra hopes to secure accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, a national organization that provides resources and serves as an advocacy group for museums and their workers.

To achieve that milestone, Tephra ICA will need to get a centralized, 24-hour temperature and humidity control system, UV-filtered window systems and an automated light level system that Blom says are not possible in the current space.

The timeline of the project depends on the outcome of the fundraising campaign. Discussions are underway with developers on securing a possible new space.

“We are currently planting seeds and preparing for the future but we are several years away from moving into a new facility,” Blom said.

Eleanor Mahin Thorp’s “Remnants of a Blue Ridge Basement” painting, set to appear in the new exhibit “Metopic Ridge” (courtesy Tephra ICA)

(Updated at 1:45 p.m. on 11/3/2023) The Blue Ridge mountains are the focus of the latest exhibit at the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston.

The exhibit “Metopic Ridge” by Eleanor Mahin Thorp, an artist and educator, features paintings of the mountains that explore stability and change.

An opening reception and artist talk is slated for Friday (Nov. 3) from 6-8 p.m. at Tephra ICA at Signature (11850 Freedom Drive). The exhibit ends on Feb. 4.

Here’s more from Tephra on the scope of the exhibit:

Through her discerning gaze rocks are more than geological entities; Instead, they metamorphose into vessels of history and human connection. Drawing inspiration from the fascinating transformations depicted in Persian miniatures, Thorp traces the hidden figures and forms in the rocks. Her paintings reveal the duality of rocks’ existence as both a firm witness to time and a medium for that which is intangible.

Thorp, who works in Richmond, approaches her work through the lense of Persian animism and constructs images of stone faces by searching for figures in rock. She received master’s degree in fine arts from Virginia Commonwealth University and is a 2023-2025 visual arts fellow with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

“It is often said that the world is built by the way you see things around you. Thorp’s painting asks us to contemplate the layers of reality that exist beyond the surface – the palpable, the invisible, and the divine,” said Sandy Cheng, 2023 ArtTable curatorial fellow at Tephra ICA and the exhibit’s curator.

The exhibit is being presented in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Visual Arts Fellowship program.

(Correction: There was no members-only preview for “Metopic Ridge” as initially stated in this article. The exhibit is free and open to the general public.)

The exhibit is located at Tephra’s satellite gallery in the Signature apartment building. Visitors are welcome Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The “Choosing to Portage” exhibit features the work of five artists (courtesy Ashley M. Freeby)

A new exhibit at the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston delves into the metaphor of portage — the act of carrying a boat or goods over land between two bodies of water.

Created by five artists — Ashley Freeby, Noella Garcia, Jeff Huckleberry, Jackie Milad and Michael Rakowitz — the exhibit “Choosing to Portage” will open on Sept. 8 with an artist talk from 6-8 p.m. It’s the second in a series of three exhibitions that mark the institute’s 50th anniversary.

According to Tephra, the included artworks investigate issues like the “absurdities of white masculinity, the erasure of indigenous cultures, police killings of Black men, the visibility of Iraqi culture in the US, the ravages of war, and the need for public acts of grieving.”

“The featured artists wield agency as they navigate the turbulent waters of contemporary identity,” Tephra wrote in a press release. “In doing so, they forge paths for us to embrace the complexity of cultural heritage and embody our collective inheritance as simultaneously burden, responsibility, and empowerment.”

Here’s more from the institute on what’s in the exhibit:

In material and imagery, the artworks index the lived experience of cultural heritage. Gallery visitors will first encounter a meticulously made quilt of bold pink, black, white, and blue squares made by Ashley M. Freeby’s grandmother; and around the corner is Freeby’ Attempt #1 to Remake Grandma’s Square Quilt in which the squares do not quite line up. Imported jars of date syrup – some full some empty – and a glass cutting board emblazoned with a logo using the colors of the Iraqi flag are among the objects set on a table as part of Michael Rakowitz’s Enemies and Kitchens installation.

Other objects are in vitrines, such as Noelle Garcia’s Revolver (Cowboy Gun), a beaded recreation of the classic gun in sparkly silver and lavender glass beads, drawing critical attention to how Western museums, in the legacy of colonization, have represented indigenous cultures.

Photo documentation selected from Jeff Huckleberry’s performances over the last 20 years, show the artist toiling with the “tools of the trade”: lumber, power tools, cheap beer, coffee grounds, and paint.

With jewel tones, bright yellows, pinks, and lush greens, and even some rainbows, the vivid colors in Choosing to Portage provide a sense of vitality and persistence to the work of building a better world out of the one we have inherited.

The exhibit is on display through Nov. 18. It will be accompanied by “a diverse set of public lectures and workshops,” including an indigenous beading workshop led by Noelle Garcia and a closing performance by artist Jeff Huckleberry.

Located in Suite 103 at 12001 Market Street in Reston Town Center, the institute is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Artist Charles Phillippe Jean-Pierre’s work is inspired by his Haitian American heritage (courtesy Tephra ICA)

The work of a Haitian American artist who explores historical and contemporary imagination will expand horizons at Reston Town Center, starting this week.

“Flare,” an exhibit by Charles Phillipe Jean-Pierre will be on display at Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art‘s satellite gallery in the Signature apartments (11850 Freedom Drive) from Thursday (June 29) through Oct. 15.

An exploration of how memory, color and light shape imagination, his mixed-media paintings aim to shed light on the lack of synergy between social perceptions and reality.

The Signature gallery, which is dedicated to regional artists, is a perfect location for the exhibition, Tephra ICA Associate Curator Hannah Barco says.

“I see it as a wonderful opportunity to look across an artist’s practice and find connections between the different ways an artist is making work,” Barco said. “Jean-Pierre’s upcoming exhibition is another great example of this, and I am so excited to see how the conversation unfolds around his abstract painting, his mono-print collage portraits, and his new series of photographs of found objects that he has painted black.”

According to Tephra, Jean-Pierre is a Haitian American artist who was raised in Chicago. His other work has explored the intersection of community, spirituality and socio-political systems. He is also an adjunct professor at American University and a U.S. State Department Art in Embassies Artist.

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the lobby of the Signature apartments. An opening reception and talk with the artist will be held there this Thursday at 6 p.m.

Here’s more from Tephra on Jean-Pierre’s background:

His works are featured the U.S. Embassy in Benin, Malawi, and Niger. He also serves as a guest curator for exhibitions at The Embassy of Haiti. He has been featured in three Smithsonian exhibitions and was a Barack Obama invitee to the White House to speak on the role of the arts in youth justice. In 2021, he was an invited featured artist for the 2021 Atlantic Festival.

His collaborations include: Alvin Ailey, Boys & Girls Club, DC Commission on the Arts, International Monetary Fund, Inter-American Development Bank, Minnesota State Arts Board, Something In Water Music Festival, and West Elm, among many others. His works have been featured in The Atlantic, Black Enterprise, BET, Ebony Magazine, NBC, Netflix, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Jean-Pierre’s public art has been featured in South Africa, New York, Chicago, DC, Istanbul, Panama, Port-au-Prince, London, and Paris. Jean-Pierre holds a Master of Arts from Howard University, and his atelier & Galerie D’Art is located in Washington, DC.

Emerging Visions is on display through July (courtesy Tephra ICA)

The work of local school students will be on display in the latest exhibit at the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) in Reston

Part of a partnership with local schools that’s in its fifth year, the “Emerging Visions” exhibit will feature work created in response to an exhibit put on by artist Dominic Chambers last fall.

Titled “What Makes the Earth Shake,” Chambers’s exhibition featured vibrant paintings that focused on contemporary concerns related to race, identity, leisure, color field theory and gestural abstraction.

‘Through the Emerging Visions program, Tephra ICA extends its mission beyond the gallery walls, creating opportunities for students to engage with contemporary art in the classroom,” Tephra ICA wrote in a statement. “Students and educators are invited to participate in this unique, ongoing program designed around Tephra ICA exhibitions or projects.”

Every year, Tephra works with Fairfax County Public Schools art educators on classroom materials with themes and supporting concepts that can be integrated into their curricula for all students. Lesson plans are designed by art educators and Tephra ICA staff.

This year’s exhibit features work by students from Cunningham Park Elementary School in Vienna, Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, and Justice High School in Lake Barcroft.

The program is free and open to all. This year’s exhibit is on view from June 17 through July 15 at Tephra, which is located at 12001 Market Street, Suite 103.

An opening reception that is open to the public is slated for Saturday, June 17 from 4-6 p.m.

A rendering of the Tephra ICA Arts Festival at Reston Town Center (courtesy Hoesy Corona)

The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Arts (Tephra ICA) annual arts festival will return to Reston Town Center on May 20 through 21.

The event — formerly known as the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival — brings together more than 200 contemporary artists and artisans from around the country to present artwork in front of audiences.

This year, more than 200 artists from 32 states across the U.S. and Canada will take part in the event.

“This community event is an incredible opportunity to have direct contact with great contemporary artists and artisans,” Tephra ICA Associate Curator and Festival Director Hannah Barco said. “One doesn’t often get a chance to meet the artist while looking at their work, and that’s what this event is all about. Then when you decide to bring that work home, you’re not just making a purchase, you’re continuing a relationship with that artist.”

Hoesy Corona, a Baltimore-based queer Latino artist, will perform a site-specific artwork that explores the immigrant experience. It is presented by Reston Community Center.

This year’s festival will also feature the launch of Reston Town Center Association’s annual Reston Concerts on the Town series, which was canceled last year because the town center’s pavilion was undergoing renovations.

“There is something for everyone at the Tephra ICA Arts Festival. Artwork in more than 10 mediums, live performances, family friendly art activities, and more,” Jaynelle Hazard, executive director and curator of Tephra ICA, said in a statement. “This year, we’re thrilled for the addition of a free, public concert…The concert will take place on Saturday evening, and we look forward to welcoming new audiences to the event.”

Here’s the planned schedule of events for the festival:

Saturday, May 20

  • Artist Booths: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Family Art Park: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. | Sponsored by Microsoft
  • Hoesy Corona Performances: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. | Presented by Reston Community Center
  • Festival Cocktail Hour and Award Ceremony: 6:30 p.m. | Sponsored by the Hyatt
  • Reston Concerts on the Town: Dance Candy! 7:30 p.m. | Presented by Reston Town Center Association

Sunday, May 21

  • Artist Booths: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Family Art Park: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Hoesy Corona Performances: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
The exhibit marks the 50th anniversary of Tephra (Photo corutesy Cognate Collective)

A new exhibit opening this week at Reston’s Tephra Institute for Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) celebrates the richness and complexity of the immigrant experience.

Partly powered by a partnership with the Mexican Cultural Institute of Mexico’s embassy in the U.S., the exhibit “Hacia la Vida/Toward Life” features work from artists of Mexican descent: Baltimore-based Hoesy Corono and the California duo Cognate Collective.

The exhibit, which opens on Saturday (March 11), aims to create a new framework to understand the position of immigrants. Registration for the free event is open online.

“There is a fearlessness in this exhibition that I find so compelling,” Tephra ICA Associate Curator & Festival Director Hannah Barco said. “Just as these artists do not shy away from the daunting political issues of immigration and climate change, they are not afraid to be bold, colorful, and vibrant; and to work with the quotidian, the simple objects, and materials around them. They are not afraid to follow their joy.”

The exhibit is the first of three planned to mark the 50th anniversary of Tephra, which launched in 1974 as the Greater Reston Arts Center.

This is Tephra’s first time partnering with the Mexican Cultural Institute. It will host workshops with the artist team during the exhibit.

“The Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington, DC is committed to enriching the relationship between Mexico and the United States and we are very excited to partner for the first time with Tephra ICA for this program celebrating life, art, and its 50th anniversary,” said Min. Ix-Nic Iruegas Peón, executive director of the Mexican Cultural Institute.

Corona will headline a performance at this year’s Tephra ICA Arts Festivalformerly known as the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival — on May 20 and 21.

The festival, which is presented by Reston Community Center (RCC), will feature an artistic performance that explores migration and displacement caused by climate change.

“RCC is delighted to present a riveting and spectacular performing arts experience in combination with this exceptional Festival,” RCC Board Chair Beverly Cosham. “We look forward to immersing ourselves in beauty and thought-provoking creativity at Reston Town Center.”

Cognate Collective primarily develops research projects, public interventions and experimental teaching programs with communities across the U.S. and Mexico border.

A workshop with the collective is slated for March 11 from 11-12:30 p.m. at the Mexican Cultural Institute in D.C. A date for the workshop with Corona has not yet been announced.

An artist talk and opening reception is slated for March 11 from 5-7 p.m. at Tephra ICA (12001 Market Street, Suite 103). Visitors will active the installation by lighting a candle and reciting an incantation to express solidarity with migrants. Cognate Collective will lead the interactive performance.

Hillary Waters Fayle’s work focuses on leaves and humanity (courtesy Tephra ICA)

A new exhibit featuring intricate embroidery on leaves is set to open soon at Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art‘s satellite gallery in Reston Town Center.

Artist Hillary Waters Fayle’s work, “Remnants and Echoes,” will open tomorrow (Friday) at 6 p.m. at the Signature apartment building’s ground-floor gallery. There will be a members-only preview from 5:30-6 p.m. with the institute’s curatorial staff.

The exhibit features samples from two of Fayle’s series: Stitched Botanicals, that includes intricate embroidery on individual leaves, and “Portraits of Place,” which includes botanical samples and large mandala-inspired arrangements of the samples.

Here’s more from Tephra on the exhibit:

This exhibition shows examples from these two series and takes a broader look at the variety of modes of making that comprise her practice, including cyanotypes, collage work, patterns cut into leaves, hand-drawn quilt squares, and composition studies sewn from fabric scraps – many of which have not previously been shown publicly. Through this survey of material processes, Remnants and Echoes traces the artist’s exploration of naturally occurring patterns and savors the revelatory potential of her deliberately slow pace.

The exhibit is free and open to all. Visitors are welcome to the building at 111850 Freedom Drive on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fayle is an assistant professor and directs the fiber program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work focuses on bringing elements of humanity and the physical world together.

“We all have a deep historical and lived experience with cloth- powerful and ever present. Plants and cloth both represent specific and symbolic connections to place, time, people and memory,” Fayle said.

Tephra ICA’s new exhibit “Between a rock and a hard place” features five regional artists (via Tephra ICA/Deborah R. Grayson)

A new group exhibit organized by Reston’s Tephra Institute of Contemporary Arts is set to open this weekend.

Between a rock and a soft place” aims to reframe the concept of rest as a practice on its own and irrespective of the concept of work, a press release said. An opening reception is slated for tomorrow (Saturday) from 5-7 p.m.

In the exhibit, five regional, contemporary artists — Holly Bass, Adjoa Burrowes, Deborah R. Grayson, Katie O’Keefe, and Britt Sankofa — reflect on the structures that stand between the subject and a life of ease, exploring topics such as who gets rest and when, what is restorative, and how do individuals allow themselves to slow down.

Each artist was asked to response to exhibition prompts that explored what being well-rested looks like from different perspectives.

Here’s what the exhibit’s guest curator, Deirdre Darden, said about the theme and process:

When the pandemic forced me to rest, I realized that it was the essential missing piece of my practice. As independent curators and artists, we’re always thinking of the next deadline while trying to meet the current one. It’s a cyclical life that leaves little time for reprieve. As I worked with Tephra ICA to develop the theme of the [open] call, I settled on the idea of rest. Research led me to understand this idea of creating art around ‘burnout’ wasn’t just a pandemic trend. Many contemporary artists have started to adjust their subject matter to reflect the need to see people, especially black people, disabled people, and more marginalized folks at ease. Domestic scenes, peering out a window, moments of joy, tending a garden. This is the art of the rest revolution.

The exhibit is a product of the institute’s Mary B. Howard Invitational, a biennial program that supports collaborative exhibition-making and “the development and public presentation of innovative new work,” per the exhibit website. It was named after an artist and longtime board member and is funded in part by ArtsFairfax.

The presentation is free and open to all. RSVPs are encouraged in advance online.

The exhibit is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery will be closed on Dec. 13-15, 24, and 31.


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