Collage art that constructs the present & repairs the past at Morton Fine Art

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Collage art that constructs the present & repairs the past at Morton Fine Art
GA Gardner. So You, 2014. 42 x 65 in. Mixed media on mylar.

WASHINGTON, DC.- Morton Fine Art is presenting Creating a New Whole, a group exhibition of collage artwork by Michael Andrew Booker, Lizette Chirrime, GA Gardner, Hiromitsu Kuroo, Lisa Myers Bulmash, Amber Robles-Gordon and Prina Shah. Ranging in techniques, approaches and materials—from quilting, tapestry, fabric, paint and appropriated mass media—the artists in Creating a New Whole exemplify collage’s invitation to what Myers Bulmash has recognized as “a process of purposefully taking things out of context.” Constructing new contexts, forms and wholes, these artists’ practices are frequently as generative as much as they are reparative, seeking to draw connections to what was absent or ignored in their elements’ original context(s). Creating a New Whole, will be on view until February 4, 2023 at Morton’s Washington, D.C. space (52 O St NW #302).

Continuing quilting techniques practiced by their respective ancestors, Booker, Chirrime, Gardner and Shah work with resonant materials that speak to the past while enabling the past to speak to the present. Kenya-based, Shah’s personally charged materials include paper, saree, bindis and block printing which she vividly combines using textures, colors and forms, the sum total creating new narratives and perspectives for her inner voice. DC-based Booker is influenced by the coded and colorful history of quilts, referencing them as sign markers, shields, portals and gateways to help secure safe passage to a parallel utopic, afro-futuristic community, what the artist has called “Afrotopia.” Intensely layering marks of fineliner pen, color pencil, collage and fabric, Booker conjures complex, multidimensional figurative works, his figures and forms cohereing together out of countless small acts.

Mozambican artist Chirrime sources scrap materials from her environment and immediate communities, using fabric, burlap, rope, paint, beads, leather and more to produce dynamic collages that speak to African womanhood, and more broadly, the human condition. Slicing and collaging Western printed media, Trinidad and Tobago-based Gardner appropriates both content and practice, “creating false images and out-of-context narratives” that ironically and seductively mirror the Western world’s misrepresentation of people of color. Likewise taking a critical, redemptive eye to Western mass media, Myers Bulmash’s “Not Geo” series, a cutting play on National Geographic’s nickname, seeks to rehabilitate and restore to dignity the publication’s now notorious rendering of Africans and other non-Western people.

Overall, a sense of construction charges the works in Creating a New Whole, whether that be the notion of renovating the present and past or extending out of the frame into sculptural dimensions. The latter can be seen in the sculptural geometric-like works of Robles-Gordon (pieces the artist recognizes as “temples, places of spiritual practice” and which reference her larger textile installations) and Kuroo, inspired by the tradition of origami in his native Japan, whose thickly layered applications of paint and canvas exist on the boundary between painting and three-dimensional art.

Abidingly constructive in spite of their rigorous interventions, the works in Creating a New Whole end up with more than they started with as a matter of process.

Michael Andrew Booker (b. USA) is a mixed media artist originally from Jackson, Mississippi who currently resides in Maryland. He received his BFA in Studio Art – Painting from Mississippi State University in 2008, and received his MFA in Studio Art from University of Maryland in 2012. He has exhibited in various galleries across Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Maine, Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. His work has been acquired by the David C. Driskell Center in College Park, MD. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Art at Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring.

Booker has been represented by Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC since 2019.

Lisa Myers Bulmash (b. USA) is a collage and book artist who works primarily in acrylics, paper and found objects. Informally trained, Myers Bulmash began her career making handmade cards. After her father’s death in 2006, the artist felt compelled to take more personal risks in her creative life. Questions of identity, trust and the imperfect memory now drive most of her work. The artist aims to nudge the viewer into recognizing our shared stories, especially those narratives that are usually experienced in isolation.

Myers Bulmash exhibits her work in group and solo shows throughout the Seattle metro area. On the East Coast, Myers Bulmash has been represented by Morton Fine Art Gallery in Washington, DC since 2020.

Lizette Chirrime (b. Mozambique) creates intricate fabric collages on canvas that are at once celebratory and soul-stirring, as the artist flirts between figuration and abstraction to develop a unique—and distinctly African—visual language. Stitching together printed fabrics, beads, and other familiar objects in Southern Africa, Chirrime transforms simple materials into autobiographical and narrative tableaux freighted with deeply felt emotion and patterns of meaning. Many of her collages center maternal figures and stories of African motherhood, honoring their millennia-long legacy of strength and grace and positing their representation as a symbolic device.

After receiving a three-month residency at Greatmore Studios in Cape Town in 2005, Chirrime spent the next 16 years of her practice in South Africa. In 2021, she made a return to her home country of Mozambique, where she now lives and continues to create.

She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2021.

GA Gardner (b. 1969, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) uses print media content to create an intimate viewpoint of his intercultural experience. Through the lens of his Caribbean heritage, he dissects, covers up, reveals, layers, and re-contextualizes the material in the print publications he uses, to construct pieces that specifically discuss issues of politics, race, culture, and identity.

The publications are a natural fit for Gardner, as they offer random vibrant color palettes, much like that of a typical Caribbean environment, and a great mixture of text and professionally photographed images. However the colors are universal and allow a conceptual approach to finding the common ground among all cultures. The artist combines these media depictions and information with natural paper and synthetic materials to aid in his message. By deconstructing the images into strips, or bits of torn paper, and assigning new overlays of unifying colors to the materials, Gardner erodes the original content at various levels often reducing them to shades with traces of random colors. The image that was once a bold headline new banner, or the newest eye catching product now struggles to be seen; muted, it now plays a secondary role to layers of paint and other mediums. The resulting serendipitous visual construction is an unsystematic reconfiguration and re-purposing to discuss culture, heritage and the symbolism of color.

He has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2012.

Hiromitsu Kuroo (b. Japan) is a Japanese collage painter working in the tradition of origami. In his work, the canvas serves as the paper, and the gentle manipulation of its surface conveys intricate textural landscapes. The multiple layers of colors in his folded canvases are revealed by sanding the canvas surface. Interested in the juxtaposition and vitality of collaged pieces of canvas, he uses them to accentuate other emerging shapes in his compositions.

Kuroo earned both a BFA and MFA from Tohoku University of Art & Design and has had solo exhibitions at the New York based Tenri Cultural Institute, Gloria Kennedy Gallery, MIKIMOTO NY, Makari and Bronx Community College, as well as the Tokyo-based Gallery Yamaguchi and G-Art Gallery. He was awarded Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants in 2010 and 2019, Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant in 2022 and the artist residency program for The Golden Foundation in 2019. In 2020, he was interviewed for Forbes Magazine. He has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2022.

Amber Robles-Gordon (b. Puerto Rico) completed her Masters of Fine Arts from Howard University in November 2011, where she has received annual awards and accolades for her artwork. Her exhibitions and artwork has been reviewed and/or featured in many esteemed publications including the Washington Post, the Miami Herald, Huffington Post and Callaloo Art & Culture in the African Diaspora.

Robles-Gordon was commissioned to create temporary and permanent public art installations for numerous art fairs and agencies such as the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DCCAH; Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (NVFAA); Humanities Council of Washington, D.C.; Howard University, James C. Porter Colloquium; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; the Washington Projects for the Arts; Salisbury University; Martha’s Table; DC Department of General Services and Democracy Fund.

Additionally, she has been commissioned to teach workshops, give commentary and present about her artwork by the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum; Luther College; WETA Television; Al Jazeera; WPFW 89.3 fm; WAMU | American University Radio; The Kojo Nnamdi Show; Howard University, James A. Porter Colloquium; David C. Driskell Center; the Phillips Collection; the African American Museum in Philadelphia; McDaniel College; Salisbury University; Harvey B. Gantt Center; American University and National Museum of African American History and Culture. Her solo exhibition, Successions: Traversing US Colonialism, curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, was hosted by the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in 2021. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2016.

Prina Shah (b. 1973, Kenya) is a contemporary artist currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. Born in Kenya to Indian parents, Shah also grew up partially in the U.K.; her artistic work embraces the indeterminacy of her national identity, including a fascination with the formation of selfhood as it relates to a specific cultural context. In a creative practice spanning mixed media—including sculpture, painting, glasswork and less traditional materials such as human hair—Shah’s art challenges the notions of individualized identity within a communal whole. Shah uses meditation as the impetus and foundation of her work, drawing the viewer into a personal narrative and inviting the participant to share in her visual journey of interconnection as she explores what it means to be one among many.

Shah’s work has been included in numerous national and international exhibitions and has been acquired by the permanent collections of Finland’s Poikilo Kouvola Art Museum and the I&M Bank Collective in Kenya, as well as numerous private collections. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2022.

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