What an extraordinary way to begin 2016! This month I was blessed to be able to fulfil one of my dreams as a traveler: to make a pilgrimage to the ancient, holy city of Varanasi in India. This trip was made possible through the generosity of the Lighton International Artist Exchange Program and the hospitality of Varanasi's Kriti Gallery, which hosts artists from all over the world. For three weeks, my research focused on devotional communities and the pluralistic nature of religious expression in this sacred center. I also had the great privilege of visiting a number of handloom weaving workshops that specialise in preserving the traditional Banarasi sari. Woven by Muslims of Central Asian lineage, the Banarasi brocade is truly the queen of saris and a textile rich in sacred symbolism, cultural significance and design ingenuity. One of the highlights of my visit was making contact with the workshop of master weaver Hasin Mohammed. Structured as a traditional joint family workshop, they take tremendous pride in preserving and transmitting heritage design sensibility and handloom weaving practice. Some of their current sari designs can be traced back through at least 6 generations of family workshop activity; many others echo classic Banarasi sari types that one can see in the historical textile collection of Varanasi's Barat Khala Bhavan. Like an economic wildfire, globalisation and machine weaving have rapidly endangered the livelihood of handloom weavers throughout India. The Hasin Mohammed workshop is a moving example of how weavers and other artisans are finding ways to navigate these challenges through the intelligence and resilience of traditional practice.
This autumn and winter I have the privilege of being the inaugural artist-in-residence at the New City Arts Initiative's brand new studio space in downtown Charlottesville. The studio residency opened in connection with NCA's new permanent gallery space. The studio will be open during gallery hours and special events. If you're in the neighborhood, stop in and say hello!
This summer it has been my great privilege to participate in artist residencies at Cill Rialaig in rural County Kerry, Ireland, and the Millay Colony in upstate New York. I look forward to sharing pictures of my new projects soon!
I am very excited to be one of eight artists selected to receive a LIAEP grant for international travel in 2015-2016! I will be using the grant to conduct research in the ancient holy city of Varanasi in India.
The awardees were selected from applicants representing a wide range of artistic mediums. Applications were made from foreign countries and from across the United States. The 2015 LIAEP Award recipients represent ceramics, painting, performance, digital media and textiles and will use the grant support to take advantage of a stimulating range of work and study opportunities. Jurors for the 2015 cycle include founder Linda Lighton; Rose Dergan, Gagosian Gallery, NY; Danny Orrendorf, Threewalls Gallery, Chicago; Christopher Leitch, artist, Kansas City, MO.
On view September 28 - December 14, 2014 / Opening reception: Saturday, September 27
Since 1965, the Weatherspoon Art Museum's Art on Paper exhibition has charted a history of contemporary art through outstanding works on paper. For Art on Paper 2014, curator of exhibitions Xandra Eden invited fewer artists than in the past to provide audiences the opportunity to have a more in-depth understanding of each artist’s work. The exhibition includes thirty-four emerging and established artists who have created unique works using paper as their primary medium. Through the ongoing commitment of xpedx (formerly the Dillard Paper Company) and The Dillard Fund, the Weatherspoon has been able to acquire works from each Art on Paper exhibition for the Dillard Collection, which today numbers nearly 600 works. Acquisitions have included work by some of art’s seminal practitioners, such as Eva Hesse, Frank Stella, and Louise Bourgeois.
Miguel A. Aragon (Brooklyn, NY), Joell Baxter (Brooklyn, NY), Nancy Blum (Hoboken, NJ), Sandra Cinto (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Susan Collis (London, UK), Lucy Fradkin (Staten Island, NY), Ewan Gibbs (Oxfordshire, UK), Laura Tanner Graham (Covington, LA), Margaret Griffith (Los Angeles, CA), Antonia Gurkovska (Chicago, IL & Sofia, Bulgaria), Travis Head (Blacksburg, VA), Harriet Hoover (Greensboro, NC), Candy Jernigan (1952-1991), Glenn Kaino (Los Angeles, CA), JC Lenochan (New York, NY), John Maggio (Greensboro, NC), Pratap Morey (Mumbai, India), Thomas Nozkowski (New York, NY), William J. O'Brien (Chicago, IL), Gelah Penn (Brooklyn, NY), Lamar Peterson (Minneapolis, MN), Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz (Charlottesville, VA), Kim Piotrowski (Riverside, IL), Lily Prince (New York, NY), Jon Rappleye (Jersey City, NJ), elin o'Hara slavick (Chapel Hill, NC), Leah Sobsey (Chapel Hill, NC), Damian Stamer (Brooklyn, NY and Hillsborough, NC), Christopher Thomas (Climax, NC), Kako Ueda (Brooklyn, NY), Robert Wiens (Picton, Canada), Ashley Yeo Yakka (Singapore), Myung Gyun You (Busan, Korea & Philadelphia, PA), Balint Zsako (New York, NY).
On view September 12 - October 11, 2014 / Opening reception: Friday, September 12
Tracy Williams, Ltd. is pleased to announce Ghosts of the Great Highway, Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz’s third exhibition with the gallery. Taking archaeology and the interior life of artifacts as points of departure, the works assembled in the exhibition reflect the artist’s peripatetic movements between cultural landscapes and modes of representation. Since 2009 her practice has become increasingly seasonal and nomadic, responding to the circumstances of her frequent travels through South Asia, Europe and the American west. Juxtaposing monumental works with intimate, manuscript-sized paintings on paper, the exhibition presents a first look at new possibilities emerging within Pheobus Mumtaz’s oeuvre.
Moving fluidly between abstraction and allegory, Pheobus Mumtaz’s graphic language is steeped in mythological and cosmological analogies. Her recent work meditates on the metaphysical symbolism of travel and the fact that every passage--spatial, temporal or ontological--is a confrontation with the ever-present reality of death.
Many of the artist’s recent works take inspiration from burial sites discovered along the historic Silk Road that once stretched from China to the Mediterranean. Travelers, a new series of drawings composed on surfaces of watermarked handmade paper and handwoven tussar silk, suggest fragmentary textile relics and abstracted human traces. A frieze-like companion work, Longboat, presents an enormous pictographic vessel evocative of ship burials uncovered in ancient Britain and Scandinavia.
On a more intimate scale, Pheobus Mumtaz employs materials and techniques culled from the traditions of sacred book arts. Constellations, a suite of 11 paintings selected from a larger ongoing series, depicts prayer beads using 24-karat illuminator’s gold on burnished handmade indigo paper. Like luminous artifacts, the beads are arranged in graceful shapes that recall guiding stars, calligraphic letterforms and cyclical paths through space.
Born in Maryland in 1982, Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz attended Yale University (2004) and completed her MFA at Columbia’s School of the Arts (2008). Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including recent solo exhibitions at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai, India (2014); Tracy Williams, Ltd., New York, NY (2012, 2009); La Caja Blanca, Palma de Mallorca, Spain (2012); and Bellwether, New York, NY (2009). Many of the works in the exhibition were made possible through the support of the Santa Fe Art Institute, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. A selection from her new project, Constellations, will be included in the upcoming Art on Paper 2014: The 43rd Exhibition at the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. She currently lives and works between Charlottesville, Virginia and Lahore, Pakistan.