Artists abroad: Dawn Holder in D.C., Virmarie DePoyster in Rome | Rock Candy

Artists abroad: Dawn Holder in D.C., Virmarie DePoyster in Rome

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"Monoculture," Dawn Holder.
  • "Monoculture," Dawn Holder.

Dawn Holder's ceramic installation "Monoculture," made up of hundreds of porcelain blades of grass, is part of the National Museum of Women in the Arts' exhibition, "Organic Matters — Women to Watch 2015," a show of work by emerging artists expressing "women's relationship with nature," NMWA says in a press release.

The subject was chosen, NMWA Director Susan Fisher says, because the connection between women and nature is "fraught with gendered stereotypes and discriminatory assumptions," beliefs the show attempts to turn "upside-down."
 
The international show features work by 13 women, including artists from the U.S., France, Britain, Italy and Chile. NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor selected Holder's work, which the NMWA release says "obliquely references humans’ detrimental manipulation of nature through her manicured porcelain 'lawn.' " In an interview published on the NMWA website, "5 Questions With Dawn Holder," the artist says she has become interested in the idea of the "necropastoral, a term explored at length by poet and critic Joyelle McSweeney."

Holder is an assistant professor of art at the University of the Ozarks at Clarksville. "Monoculture" will tour Arkansas next year.

"Land of Opportunity," Virmarie dePoyster.
  • "Land of Opportunity," Virmarie dePoyster.

Even farther afield will be works by Virmarie DePoyster, whose exhibition "Revelation: New Works by Virmarie DePoyster" opens Sept. 1 at the Tri-Mission Art Gallery in the U.S. Embassy in Rome. Her artist's statement:

I was fifteen and my life was about to change in every conceivable way. The next day, we were moving to America. The humidity of the tropical night clung to me as a chorus of tree frogs sang in the darkness surrounding our rural farm on the outskirts of Vega Baja. My sisters and I, barefooted in long faded dresses with slicked back hair, dirty feet, and tired eyes, sat on twin beds poring over our color-filled books. Spanish words filled the pages of my children’s Bible and the bold colors of its illustrations blasted my vision, bringing the characters to life inside my head. Raised in a strict religious household, I was only allowed to read religious materials. The familiarity of these images and text comforted me, yet I longed for the freedom to question the meaning of those Bible stories and to explore the wisdom they imparted. Those words and images molded my view of the world and ultimately influenced all that I create. Little did I know, on that muggy Puerto Rican night long ago, one chapter of my life was closing and another was about to begin. I wouldn’t see my children’s Bible again, but I would carry its influence with me, and it would resurface in my new life, in my new home, all these years later.

In these works, words manifest as layers of my past that shape my current human experience; I explore issues of spirituality, identity, and human connection within the context of the natural world, the source of my passion and inspiration. Each piece has as its base layer printed words that have been lifted from the Bible or other sources that are personally meaningful. As always, color is a technique, a tool, and a language I use to emphasize an overall mood. Abstracting the subject matter, manipulating shapes, and incorporating texture that evokes an emotional response unify these paintings, however diverse. At first glance, it may be these elements that capture the viewer’s eye, but with closer observation, the words arise from the background and therein the deepest layer of each piece, both literally and symbolically, is revealed. 


DePoyster's work is finding its way to Rome because of her connection with a friend who is a collector of her work and who works at the embassy. She and her husband, David, will travel to Rome for the opening. The show runs through September. The image above, "Land of Opportunity," "addresses issues of immigrant women in the U.S. workforce," DePoyster told me in an email. 


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