Gallery plan b celebrated the opening of Persona Grata, a showcase of figurative works in painting, photography and sculpture by both local and non-local artists.
By Monica Raymunt
The exhibit, on display at gallery plan b until April 11, includes the works of Timothy Johnson, Shelley Laffal, Keith Clark, Gordon Binder, Chad States, Robert Dodge, Melissa Widerkehr, Andrew Criss, Joshua Hughes, and Massimo Righini, with each piece offering a uniquely personal perspective on the construction of gender and identity in and through art.
All of the pieces in the exhibit offer a unique voice in the conversation on human identity. The works of both Andrew Criss and Chad States offer commentary on the intersection of contemporary identity with technology: States’ Masculinity Series showcases photographs of people found on Craigs’ List who consider themselves masculine, while Criss’s oil paintings of online profile pictures plays with the “masquerade of identity” and the idea of “exposing and hiding [oneself] at the same time.”
Some of the works, like those of Tim Johnson and Shelley Laffal, showcased a more light-hearted or whimsical approach to identity, be it in their real or imagined subject. In a candid conversation with me, Johnson revealed the importance of humor in all of his work, while Laffal offered that “the narrative is what propels the imagery” in the pieces she features.
Gordon Binder shares that his pieces are more about “the moment, the street scene,” and the observer’s identity that exists through those street scenes. Keith Clark’s three main pieces on display constitute “defining moments” of his life and what it means to “come to terms with yourself and who you are.” In contrast, Joshua Hughes, who argues that “art should be about people responding to it,” notes that he is not so much concerned with how his identity resides within his art, but rather how the viewer’s identity is changed by interacting with it.
Gallery plan b considers itself a “grass roots kind of operation” and prides itself on presenting “an eclectic mix of artwork from established and emerging artists.” Judging by the turn out at exhibit opening, the gallery has a vibrant community supporting its endeavors and will continue to bring provocative works to the northwest area of the District.