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Open Hours: Laura Irene - Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) - Tiempo de Reflexionar (A Time to Reflect) / Caroline MacKinnon - Muse / Larry Gomez - Geostracts

Saturday October 27

Open Hours 4-7pm

Laura Irene is a Mexican American artist, curator, writer and art critic. As an artist, Laura strives to reach not only those that appreciate an encapsulating texture, but especially to those that never thought to accept beauty in such a simple manner. Laura works in beeswax, dirt, paper and wood. Her goal is to bring together the natural elements as a form of art that evokes a change of mind and challenges the space in which it exists. As a curator, Laura works to challenge institutions to review how they interact with marginalized communities and artists of color. She creates a space for artists and herself to be seen and heard in a thoughtful and contemplative environment. As a writer, Laura challenges others to think about the space that they take up. She gives a voice to those that are marginalized and challenges society to think differently about their responsibility as human beings. As an art critic, Laura writes about artists of color underrepresented in the media in the hopes that her voice will create a more authentic and truer version of their truth.

Curator's Statement:

Day of the Dead signifies a time in which communities come together to remember their loved ones – the ways in which that is done varies across traditional lines. To an uneducated public, it has become synonymous with Mexico seen only as candied skulls and skeleton painted faces that is often confused with an offensive Halloween costume. Not only is it experienced differently across Mexico but it is also celebrated throughout Latin America dating back to pre-colonization. This exhibit aims to reclaim this holiday that has been gentrified, repackaged as décor, and sold in party stores across the USA. Our culture, identity and experiences are not for sale. This exhibit encourages the Rhizome community to discern, contemplate, mourn, and remember in order to process, heal and contribute at ones comfort level.

The walls will be transformed into a space for writing the names of those who have passed away as a way to remember our loved ones and the names of those that society aims to have forgotten. Portions of the wall will be dedicated to those who have been murdered by police in 2019, to include those whose deaths continue to empower marginalized communities in North America. In addition the names of Ayotzinapa 43 students that went missing in Mexico in 2014 all presumed murdered by authorities. This continues to not only be a horrific act but also highlights the USA's silence in the media. The physical writing down of names is a powerful exercise in itself... In addition to the wall of names, the public can record their own thoughts and in turn listen to those who have left their words for others. There will also be a hanging installation of "skin" by Laura Irene for the public to reflect in for as long or as little as needed.

In addition and coinciding with the Day of the Dead holiday across Latin America, the public will be invited to build an altar with the artist the evening of October 30th. This altar will be a homage to cultural influences and in honor of ancestors that have passed on. It will be prepared by anyone that wishes to participate as a way to collectively dig into their roots and present a space that gives a unique view of death through life by bringing items from their own culture/life to decorate the altar with. You do not have to bring items to participate, as it is about the community building together. On that following Sunday, November 3rd, the public is invited back to Rhizome at 8pm for a candlelight ceremony around the altar. All are welcome join in this communal experience and are encouraged to participate based on level of comfort. Visitors are invited to bring a photo of a loved one who have passed away to share with the community on that night. Image credit: Rob Stokes

Caroline MacKinnon’s interest in the natural world is apparent in her biomorphic ceramic forms that evoke the bodies of sea creatures, hulls of seed pods and husks of shiny cocoons. For the last three years, Caroline has been teaching handbuilding classes to adults and children at the Takoma Park Community Center as well as to ESOL students (English for Speakers of Other Languages) in local elementary schools. The Canadian-born ceramist grew up in Western New York, studied English and Art History in Montreal and lived in Mexico for several years where she wrote about the arts for English-language publications. She is also an English as a second language teacher and uses art in the classroom whenever possible. "The glazed ceramic sculptures in “Muse” echo forms that exist in nature without directly representing natural objects. I’m not attempting to mimic nature but seek ways for my pieces to relate to it. I offset shiny and matte glazes on a piece, for example, to create contrast like the outer hull of a pomegranate and its sparkling innards. I have always been an amateur naturalist and a collector, building Wunderkammers - or cabinets of curiosity - with materials gathered on walks on the beach and in the woods. Through this exhibit, visitors will feel like they are building a Wunderkammer from inside."

Larry Gomez is a painter, writer, and musician who uses a multi-disciplinary approach to explore themes in philosophy, traditional knowledge, technology and ecology. He is the author of Digital Dreamings and The Nomads' Labyrinth and the conceptual album Mayan Odyssey: A 2012 Suite. He lives with his family in Alexandria, VA.

"I paint not to represent but to bring something to life. By engaging the body to paint across a surface, I try to feel terrestrial patterns that balance land and sea. The colors and patterns are neither an emotional “inner” state nor a representation of the external world. They are an expression of being immersed in a world, an attempt to cross the impenetrable wall of inner and outer worlds and find oneself a body that thinks through movement, colors and sound. Geostracts are paintings that attempt to think the earth - to listen to the echo of caves, scrape the erosions of the coast and draw the flows of watersheds. They are part of a series of paintings made between 2015 – present. They explore these themes through the medium of oil on canvas. The idea of this series came about through experimenting with knife techniques and working with different textures and layering in oil. Through the painting process, a concept was born rooted in the earth."