Patrice Renee Washington: Tendril February 16th to June 9, 2024 INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART AT VCU 601 W. Broad Street Richmond, VA 23220
The Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU (ICA at VCU) is pleased to announce Tendril, a solo exhibition presenting primarily ceramic works by artist Patrice Renee Washington. Although diverse in scale (from monumental to miniature) and iconography (from power to peril), the works in this exhibition share a common concern: revealing how opposing meanings can coalesce into singular cultural symbols. Tendril is on view from February 16 to June 9, 2024. The ICA at VCU will hold an opening reception on February 16 from 6 to 9 p.m., celebrating Tendril and the opening of two other exhibitions as part of its Spring program: Traces of Ecstasy and MURRMUR: Blurs and Senses.
Washington’s freestanding vessels pay tribute to historical Central African nkisi sculptures—hollowed figures filled with medicinal herbs and sacred substances to empower them to protect people and communities. The exhibition title, Tendril, a climbing plant in a spiral, is partly inspired by Washington’s curling ringlets in her hair. Inlaid in heavily glazed and polished surfaces of her sculptures, Washington’s cylindrical forms illustrate braiding styles such as cornrows, braids, locks, weaves, Bantu knots, and crowns. Symbols of strength are symbols of vulnerability at the same time.
Crossing time and space, Washington examines a different sort of cultural signifier of power in her delftware-inspired tile paintings, which rework the white European delft tradition to center the experience of Black subjects and examine the construction and negation of Black identity. Washington uses the multilayered symbol of the watermelon—a central image in this exhibition, crucial to Washington’s investment in reclaiming historical narratives related to Black life in the United States, particularly in the American South. In her work, the sliced watermelon and its seed stand as signs of perseverance and achievement as well as of the racist associations made between the fruit and African American farmers.
In Tendril, Washington reveals how certain identity-defining energies, affects, meanings, and forms, persisting through histories and across continents, converge in the complex cultural symbols that she works in clay. Tendril is curated by ICA CuratorAmber Esseiva.
Patrice Renee Washington: Tendril opens from February 16th until June 9th, 2024 at the INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART AT VCU
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