The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA), formerly known as the Greater Reston Arts Center in Reston, Virginia, recently rebranded itself to distinguish the organization as a leader in contemporary visual art while highlighting that the institute is a non-collecting institution interested in promoting innovative contemporary art and thinking.
As part of the rebrand launch, Tephra ICA introduced virtual programs related to the recent exhibition “Mary B. Howard Invitational: An Excellent Thought About a Quality Idea.” As Jaynelle Hazard, executive director of Tephra ICA, explains, the biannual Mary B. Howard Invitational exhibit, which opened in late November, was conceived as an opportunity to work with guest curators in allowing artists to create new work in response to a specific prompt. The selected artists receive curatorial guidance and are compensated to create that work over a period of several months.
“An Excellent Thought About A Quality Idea” was the prompt developed by Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud, founders of ‘sindikit, in alignment with the ‘sindikit project’s commitment to supporting studio research and experimentation with an emphasis on gender, sexuality and race.
“In this exhibition, over 70 artists submitted proposals and five were selected to investigate and develop concepts that expanded their genre or explored ideas in a completely new medium,” Hazard says. “The featured artists Rahne Alexander, Matthew Mann, Omolara Williams McCallister, Zia Palmer and Mojdeh Rezaeipour represent a broad range of disciplines and varied practices.”
Although the pandemic changed the experience around the artwork, the organization’s staff, guest curators and artists found it important to still install the work in the gallery space.
“The small but mighty team at Tephra ICA presented the exhibition virtually through a robust online viewing room and a video walk through,” says Erica Harrison, associate curator and festival director of Tephra ICA.
These experiences include artist interviews and virtual programs, which allow the audience to learn more about the work and engage in a dialogue with artists, curators and outside perspectives offered by guest speakers.
Artist Mojdeh Rezaeipour was born in Iran and immigrated to the U.S. with her family at the age of 12. For “An Excellent Thought About A Quality Idea,” Rezaeipour revisited a collection of her drawings created from ages four to nine and brought them to life through analog, collage, stop-motion animation, installation, time-lapse movement and projection mapping.
“The resulting work is a colorful world born out of the primary creative expressions of my younger self in a nonlinear collaboration across time and space,” Rezaeipour says. “Throughout the duration of this exhibition, this world will go through a series of transformations as I occasionally add to, interact with, animate and document its evolving visual language and layer new elements into the videos. I view this piece and this process as a simultaneous poem, prayer and puzzle.”
In addition to its current exhibit, Tephra ICA is also gearing up for new works at Signature, located at the Signature apartment building in Reston. This innovative satellite gallery space presents a year-round schedule of exhibitions featuring work by local and regional artists, provided in partnership with Boston Properties and Bozzuto.
On February 11, the institute’s new exhibit “Fleeting Moments,” featuring D.C.-based multimedia artist Amanda Outcalt, will be on view through April 20. In the exhibit, Outcalt explores social and psychological connections to momentary experiences.
As Hazard explains, Outcalt’s intensive process of combining intaglio printmaking and the embellishment of works on paper results in a narrative that appears playful at the outset but carries significant weight.
“Outcalt’s visual vocabulary is informed by personal struggles with natural pregnancy loss and infertility, as well as difficulties related to memory recall,” Hazard says. “The anthropomorphized animals reflect emotions, such as anxiety, contentment and longing. Outcalt’s distinctive compositions and diverse use of media reflect optimism, growth and an eagerness to return to normal during this extraordinary moment.”
Tephra ICA offers public programs that encourage the interconnectivity of art and ideas. Setting the stage for meaningful dialogue, these events engage artists, art practitioners, historians and other experts in creative fields globally. All programs are free and open to the public.
Email [email protected] for Zoom invitations to upcoming programs: January 28 at 6 p.m. for Creative Response with Rob Ferrell, artist organizer and archivist, who will be responding to the work by Omolara Williams McCallister, and February 6 at 6 p.m. for Insights dialogue with “Mary B. Howard Invitational: An Excellent Thought About A Quality Idea” curators Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud.
Although access to the Signature building is currently limited to residents only, Tephra ICA is pleased to present an online viewing room and an upcoming artist talk with Amanda via Zoom on February 11 at 6 p.m. sponsored by Reston Community Center. RSVP in advance at [email protected] for Zoom link and password. More information is available at www.tephraica.org.
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