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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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A portion of artwork by Kat Thomson in the “Forecast” exhibit (via Tephra ICA)

The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston will peer into the future with its latest exhibit.

Featuring an all-female roster of artists, “Forecast” collects 22 images and text works that are meant to “speak to our collective futures,” the institute proclaims.

“Far from a singular vision, these predictions span the range from willing the utopic into existence to raising the alarm bells about what may be to come,” Tephra ICA said in a news release.

The exhibit, which runs from Nov. 3 through Jan. 22, features predictions — dubbed “Buoyant Oracles” — created by female artists in response to Sue Wrbican’s public sculpture “Buoyant Force,” located in Reston Town Square Park.

“From Asha Santee’s vision of a black queer woman as president to Laure Drogoul’s cryptic, ‘Yes..No..Goodbye..,’ or Nina Q. Allen’s plea, ‘I want you to live…don’t sink in sadness,’ these forecasts are unapologetically emotional,” Tephra said.

“Buoyant Oracle” is an interactive feature activated by scanning a QR code. It allows viewers to chat with “Buoyant Force” and receive a reading of paired poetry and images. The installation also features an evolving cast of guest oracles and narratives.

An opening reception is planned for Friday (Nov. 4) from 6-8 p.m.

The full list of featured artists is below:

  • Rahne Alexander
  • Nina Q. Allen
  • Laure Drogoul
  • Cheryl Edwards
  • Heloisa Escudero
  • Maggie Gourlay
  • Mira Hecht
  • Kay Hwang
  • Veronica Jackson
  • Isabel Manalo
  • Zia Palmer
  • Judith Pratt
  • Asha Santee
  • Kat Thompson
  • Jessica Valoris
  • Naoko Wowsugi
  • Jessica Kallista
  • Maria Karametou
  • Ceci Cole McInturff
  • Meeting Ground (Susan Main and MJ Neuberg)
  • Lisa Rosenstein
  • Nicole Salimbene
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Artist Dominic Chambers’s exhibit opens on Sept. 10 (via Tephra)

(Updated at 11:40 a.m. on 8/30/2022) Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston will feature the first-ever solo exhibition of figurative painter Dominic Chambers next month.

The exhibit, “What Makes the Earth Shake,” takes its inspiration from literature — especially the genre of magical realism and the symbolism of the veil. The exhibit, which runs from Sept. 10 through Nov. 20, highlights the “surreal conditions pervading black life.”

“The veil, a product of racial injustice serving as a metaphorical lens through which black bodies are observed and experienced, appear throughout the artist’s work such akin the large swatch of color that obscure the figures,” event organizers said.

Chambers was born in 1993 in St. Louis and works in New Haven, Connecticut. His work features vibrant paintings that explore art historical models, color field theory, contemporary concerns about race, identity and the importance of leisure.

Here’s more from Tephra on Chambers’ background:

Chambers’ work can be found in a number of private and public collections, including the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Miami, NY; Green Family Foundation, Dallas, TX; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; and Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL. He is represented by Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York, NY and Luce Gallery in Torino, Italy.

An opening reception and artist talk is planned on Sept. 10 from 6-8 p.m. The institute’s executive director and curator, Jaynelle Hazard, will also attend the artist talk and opening reception. RSVPs are also encouraged via email at rsvp@tephraica.org.

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The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art’s bi-annual exhibit will feature the work of Britt Sankofa and four other artists (via Tephra ICA)

Five regional contemporary artists will highlight Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art‘s bi-annual Mary B. Howard Invitational.

The group exhibition — slated to take place at the institute’s Reston Town Center gallery from Dec. 10 through Feb. 26 — features the work of regional artists selected through a months-long application process.

“In acknowledge of the many traumas that have been endured individually and collectively over the past two years, this exhibition will explore the concepts of rest and reprise as a starting point for the artistic process,” event organizers said.

Guest curator Dierdre Darden will work with the selected artists to develop their work.

Holly Bass — a visual artist, writer and director — will explore unspoken social codes surrounding gender, class and race. Adjoa Burrowes, a county resident, works with sculptures, prints and paintings to explore themes of personal and cultural identity.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Deborah Grayson uses photographs from the early 20th century as source material. Katie O’Keefe, who lives in Baltimore and has been combating chronic lyme chronic disease, uses threads to explore her own dexterity.

Finally, the exhibit will feature the work of Britt Sankofa, a filmmaker and installation artist from the District who uses film and video to explore her African American heritage, according to Tephra.

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The Baltimore-based artist will exhibit her work at the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art’s Signature gallery this week (via Danni O’Brien)

A new exhibit that strips the functionality of instructional diagrams or objects is coming this week to Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art‘s satellite gallery in Reston Town Center.

Baltimore-based artist Danni O’Brien will bring her work, “Cross Sections,” for display at the Signature Apartments at 11850 Freedom Drive from Thursday (July 14) through Oct. 11. An in-person reception and talk with the artist is set for Thursday, August 4 at 6 p.m. in the building’s courtyard.

Some of O’Brien’s work is inspired by recent political discourse, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade.

“The tensions and contradictions that play out abstractly in these works become poignant in the context of our current political discourse,” Hannah Barco, curator of the exhibition, said. “For example, in O’Brien’s most recently completed work, Homemade Barriers, the diagram is sourced from the book ‘Contraception Naturally!’ where the embedded objects include silicone foods trays and a brush used for baby care.”

O’Brien’s work is rooted in play, queerness and irreverence. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, with shows at the Arlington Arts Center, Hillyer Arts Space, Latela Curatorial, Current Space, Terrault, School 33 Art Center, and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.

Here’s more from Tephra on the artistic elements of the exhibit:

In Cross Sections, interdisciplinary artist Danni O’Brien (she/they) has built each artwork around a lifted instructional diagram or a found object, carefully stripping away their original functions. O’Brien uses the act of decontextualization deliberately, creating wall hung constructions that become disconcertingly familiar, yet they resist recognition. Within the visceral surfaces and quasi-bodily forms, the compositional logic of systems and mechanisms prevail. And in each work lies the energy of an imminent break–something that is roiling but withheld, constrained but about to break through.

To RSVP for the artist talk, email rsvp@tephraica.org.

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Peraton owns a class of robots that have appeared in several movies (via Peraton)

Robots that have graced the screens of Hollywood will appear at the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art’s annual arts festival in Reston this year from May 20-22.

The technology, which is owned by event sponsor Peraton, is called Remotec robot systems and has appeared in “The Hurt Locker,” “CSI” and “Seinfield.” The robot also provided the sound for the title robot in Pixar’s “WALL-E.”

“With more than 6,000 of our employees in the DC metro area, it’s important for Peraton to support initiatives like the Festival across the communities in which we live and work,” said Matt McQueen, Peraton’s Chief Communications and Engagement Officer. “Tephra ICA promotes innovation, creativity, and the impact art can have on the way we think, act, and grow. In a world where boundaries are blurring between traditional and non-traditional security concerns, it is important to support those who encourage us to think creatively, and the arts is a wonderful vehicle for spurring the imagination.”

Peraton Remotec is a mobile robot system used especially for hazardous duty operations. It was acquired by the company through the purchase of Northrop Grumman’s integrated mission support and IT solutions business.

The company plans to display its robot system and provide opportunities for festival-goers to interact with the technology.

Jaynelle Hazard, Tephra’s executive director and curator, said Peraton’s support as title sponsor has been “invaluable.”

“Peraton’s commitment to and championship of veteran and servicemember artists aligns with our mission and the important ways we are expanding our reach within the field and into the community,” she wrote in a statement.

This year, more than 200 artists will travel from 30 states and two international locations to exhibit their work at the festival. It was formerly known as the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival.

Performances are planned throughout the weekend. This year, the Trisha Brown Dance Company, a contemporary dance company dedicated to the work of founding artistic director and choreographer Trisha Brown, is also scheduled to perform. The performance is presented by Reston Community Center.

“Our excitement is growing in anticipation of this event where we will fill the streets with artwork and people, celebrating the resilience of artistic practice and creating opportunities for visitors to bring artwork home,” said Tephra’s new Associate Curator and Festival Director, Hannah Barco.

Photo via Peraton

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