VisArts Announces Group Exhibition, “Conjurers: Artists Imbue the Ordinary”

July 27, 2016 News

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond announces a group exhibition, “Conjurers: Artists Imbue the Ordinary,” which features the work of Vanessa German, Marcus Kenney and Shawne Major.

“Conjurers” opens at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond on Friday, Sept. 16. Vanessa German will take the floor with a performance piece at 5:30 p.m., and an opening reception will follow from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition runs through Dec. 23.

The three artists showcased in “Conjurers” use everyday objects to create collaged and assembled works of art that address issues relating to identity and gender, class and geography, history and memory as well as the passage of time.

The artists adopt discarded and often mundane materials such as buttons, beads, tools, toys and tchotchkes, to create sculptures, paintings and works on paper that become greater than the sum of their parts.

“By using such ordinary materials, each of these artists demand we pay close attention,” said Stefanie Fedor, executive director of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. “We want to know what to make of the worlds from which these materials come.”

Vanessa German lives and works in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pa. called Homewood, which journalist Rachel Maddow called “America’s Most Dangerous Neighborhood” in a two-part series on gun violence. German responds to the chaos around her by using household and found objects to create sculptural figures, or “power dolls,” inspired in part by minkisi, West African ceremonial power figures. Each sculpture is imbued with its own symbolic meaning derived from the materials from which it is made, and each conveys its own message of empowerment, self love and acceptance.

In addition to being a sculptor, German is also a performance artist and activist who founded Art House, a safe place where children from her neighborhood can come and make art. She has recently had solo exhibitions at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn. and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Marcus Kenney was born in rural Louisiana and is now based in Savannah, Ga. where he earned an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is known for collaged paintings that incorporate hundreds of stickers and labels, as well as fabricated sculptures that rely on vintage taxidermy. His work has been exhibited in New York, London, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Paris, New Orleans and St. Louis.

Shawne Major was born in New Iberia, Louisiana and resides in Opelousas, Louisiana. She uses found and collected everyday objects to create what she calls “mixed media abstract drawings.” Using fabric as a canvas, Major pins and sews these objects onto the surface; many of her pieces are so intricate they take up to six months to complete. Her work has appeared in exhibitions at the Callan Contemporary in New Orleans, La., Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, Ill., Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta, Ga. and Irvine Contemporary in Washington, D.C. among other locations.

“Conjurers” is guest curated by Melissa Messina.