Archive for October, 2015

Transforming the Cardboard Box for “rise + fall”

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Recently, mixed-media artist Adjoa Burrowes created an installation for the Kramer Gallery exhibition”rise + fall” composed of cardboard boxes and recycled paper-based  materials.  Below, Adjoa discusses her installation at Kramer Gallery and interest in working with repurposed materials.

Adjoa Burrowes:

In the past, my artistic practice consisted of primarily working in 2-D collage. My current work with cardboard boxes, however, was sparked by a cross media class I took at the Corcoran/GWU while working on my Masters. The professor encouraged us to experiment with a variety of media and to fully explore the true nature and meaning of materials. I was drawn to cardboard because it is so commonplace, yet the multiple layers consist of smooth and textured board that intrigued me, as well as the variety of natural tones inherent in the plain boxes.

“A box is basically a geometric shape with the ability to hold, house or conceal something – or not. Initially, my main concern was to transform these plain cardboard boxes into something else and at the same time draw attention to questions of our consumer habits and larger environmental issues.”

One aspect of my installation consist of large floor sculptures created from basic brown cardboard boxes that have been torn, twisted, folded and peeled to reveal multiple layers.My intent was to examine my consumer spending and draw attention to issues of consumerism and waste in western culture. Many questions came to mind as I worked on these pieces including: what do the items you value and consume on a regular basis say about who you are, the society you live in, and our culture? Also as an artist, how can I transform a fairly mundane object into something else?

Each of these brown artifacts was produced from a single cardboard box with the exception of one bright orange floor construction that was made from multiple shoe boxes. The colorful wall-hung sculptures were produced from primarily shoe boxes, either cut or torn into linear constructions. In many, several boxes were combined. Shadows play on the wall behind them. Many have a skeletal feel, reminiscent of an excavation. I tried to maintain the integrity of the object by refraining from using adhesives and fasteners as much as possible.

I worked as a packaging designer for large corporations across the country, including Mattel Toys, Campbell Soup and at one point even Barnum and Bailey Circus. I spent so many years designing detailed, elaborate packaging for a variety of foods and objects of play. I think it’s interesting that now I’m focusing on the opposite – the deconstruction of consumer packaging in my art practice.

rise + fall: new works by Adjoa Burrowes and Lendeh Sherman” will remain on view through December 4th, 2015 at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery.

2015 Emerging Leader Award Winner Jason Loewith

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

At this year’s County Executive’s Awards ceremony, Mr. Ike Leggett will present the 2015 Emerging Leader Award to Jason Loweith, Artistic Director of the Olney Theatre Center. A brilliant producer, director, playwright and dramaturg, Jason has directed the NNPN Rolling World Premiere of Steven Dietz’s Rancho Mirage, Avenue Q as well as the musicals Carousel and the Helen Hayes nominated How to Succeed in Business.  Below, Jason discusses his remarkable career and shares his vision for future of regional theater.

Reserve your ticket today and join us on October 26 at 7pm as we honor Jason and many others, at the 2015 Montgomery County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts in Humanities

Jason Loewith on joining Olney Theatre Center:

I’ve always been a storyteller – from the kid in the family who spins a shaggy-dog story to a young professional with inspiration, pen and paper.  Somewhere along the line I learned I could gather groups of likeminded souls to tell stories for whole communities of people:  one hundred, five hundred, even a thousand at a time.  And if I could do it with enough artfulness and emotional depth, I could share a glimmer of transcendence with those communities.

Producing, for me, is about getting the right creative minds in a room to tell a story, and then sharing it with the audience. So when Olney Theatre Center announced it was looking for a new Artistic Director, I was really intrigued.  I’d run a suburban theater company previously just outside Chicago, and was known in my little world as a bit of a turnaround expert when it came to institutions.  And Olney Theatre Center was in great need of a turnaround.  It was a perfect match of skills and interests and needs.

“Olney Theatre Center has the potential and the energy and the support base to become a mid-Atlantic destination for extraordinary theater performance and education.   We’re the second-largest job creator in Olney, and we’re a theater.”

One day soon, when theater-lovers from around the country plan a visit to the DC region, they’ll go online to check what’s playing at our theater.  And that doesn’t make us unique – each production is, of course, unique – but it makes us an essential part of the national theater fabric.  And on a local level, we become a true cultural center for our neighbors in Montgomery County – a place their children go for classes, their parents go for lectures, their friends go for dance concerts or films, and of course, they all come for theater.  We have the resources in Montgomery County to make it happen, and we have the audience here to make it happen.

Proudest Moments:

Watching audience members burst into tears, night after night, during the finale of A CHORUS LINE, the first show I produced at the theater.  Being thanked by our Master Electrician for bringing the amazing Helen Hayes award-winning play COLOSSAL to the company.  Getting told by artists that they want to work at Olney again, after a long time away, because of the changes we’re making.  But honestly the proudest moment I think was the first Thursday I signed payroll checks… nearly forty full-time staff members, sixteen apprentices, ten National Players, and dozens of part-timers and artists and craftspeople were relying on us for their livelihood, and thanks to our commitment were eking out a living in the arts in this country in the 21st century.

Celebrating National Arts & Humanities Month with Round Up for the Visual Arts!

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

October is National Arts and Humanities Month and we’re celebrating with an exciting initiative called Round Up for the Visual Arts! All month, when you shop at any of PLAZA Artist Materials store locations in Bethesda, Rockville, or Silver Spring you can donate the change from your purchase (or more) to AHCMC!  One hundred percent of the proceeds from this campaign will go to support our grants to individual artists. Last year, Round Up for the Visual Arts! helped Silver Spring-based printmaker Miriam Mörsel Nathan expand an incredible project visually documenting her family before World War II.  Below, Miriam discusses her work and shares how the funding has made a difference.

Miriam Mörsel Nathan:

“My parents came from the Czech Republic. My father was in the Dominican Republic during the war years, my mother joined him after the war and I was born there. My parents spoke Czech and German at home, we ate fried plantains as well as goulash and dumplings. I am a blend of cultures and histories and I tend to think my work has that sensibility– of being a combination, a juxtaposition of many elements that ultimately (and hopefully) become connected and integrated.

We all have a need to make sense of the fragments of our history.  I do this work because I feel it is an imperative to reclaim individuals lost to war and to provide an acknowledgement of lives lived. I have continued to expand a particular body of work for a number of years, the source material being pre-WW II photographs of family members. By transforming the photographs into works on paper and offering narrative, I bring these individuals forward, say their names, give them voice.

Uncle Josef's Wedding Prague 1941 © 2009 Miriam Mörsel Nathan

My process in creating this series has been predominantly through print making. In order to realize this next step of the project, I plan to work with Lily Press in Rockville. AHCMC and Plaza makes this possible through Round Up for the Visual Arts which will subvent studio and master printer fees as well as the cost of materials.

“It is extremely challenging to actualize a vision, to bring forward a project, without financial support. The award provides funding for me to continue to create a visual document of family members and their lives in Europe before and after World War II.”

Marton and Fredy © 2009 Miriam Mörsel Nathan

My vision for this next segment of work is to create a series of prints based on images of my first cousin, Hana, who was a child during the war. Although she did survive the war, for me she has become the bridge for life both before, during and after the war. The images I have of her include those as a child as well as a young woman. Working with her image expands the family archive and brings it closer to present day.

All images ©miriam mörsel nathan