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Sculpture Installation Comes Alive on Floor of Athenaeum Gallery

"In and Between" Opening Reception Sunday, 4-6 p.m. - Eight Extraordinary Sculptors

Gallery Director Twig Murray, Sculptor Jacqui Crocetta, Executive Director Veronica Szalus, and Sculptor Ira Tattelman look at sculpture examples together while installing the show/all photos by Laura Plaia, unless otherwise noted

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Athenaeum Gallery opened its doors Monday morning, January 9th, to its artists for the upcoming show as a sculpture installation took on a life of its own. “In and Between”, an all-sculpture show, debuted Thursday with the theme of “Thresholds” for the beginning of the new year. 

It features floor and wall-mounted art as well as site-specific installations that take advantage of the Gallery’s space that is flooded with natural light. Eight artists were invited to explore and interpret their own concept of a threshold. They began setting up their displays on the floor of the Gallery, a first for the well-known art home. While there have traditionally been wall displays only, the building gained fresh energy as the art came alive throughout the interior.

Steve Wanna and Zofie King discuss layout for the installation

“It’s fantastic to see actual work on the floor,” said Steve Wanna, the show’s curator, who had initially seen only photos and hand sketches of the artists’ works.

Several months ago Veronica Szalus, Gallery Executive Director, who produced this exhibit, had reached out to him to curate a show. And so, the process began for Wanna, first coming up with a significant theme for the year’s beginning. 

Curator Steve Wanna/photo-Steve Wanna website

“The theme of ‘In and Between’ and dealing with thresholds – the sort of things we assume are one thing and can be something else, maybe other ports, ideas, or worlds,” shared Wanna. The artist search was by invitation only, and between himself and Szalus, they compiled a list of extraordinary sculptors. The chosen artists are Lynda Andrews-Barry, Jacqui Crocetta, Pierre Davis, Zofie King, Kirsty Little, Sarah Stefana Smith, Ira Tattelman, and Gloria Vasquez Chapa.

“I can totally stand behind the shows. I hang them myself along with Pierre and Veronica. I can defend the work we show 100%,” said Gallery Director Twig Murray, in speaking of her passionate belief in every Gallery exhibit. She has been curating pro bono at the Gallery for several years.

Pierre Davis stands beside ‘tree prosthesis”

“It’s the element of a discarded tree that has found life and is able to grow and come up with its new ways to live,” explained artist Pierre Davis, about his sculpture “tree prosthesis”. 

He had found the wood 15 years ago on the side of the road that fell off a landscaping truck. The piece has aged to a soft muted white tone. He added cherry wood pieces and the buds, one of which is a holder for a light bulb, which denotes the light within being a positive source. The two-toned clear and yellow umbrellas express that the tree continues to provide cover in absence of leaves, maintaining its purpose in life to protect. The base is made of a random pattern of plywood. 

“It was fun finding the umbrellas at Latino markets, just driving around doing a little adventure into the world,” said Davis. When standing underneath the umbrella “branches”, you can look up and see the sky the same way you would by peering through a living tree’s branches of leaves. 

Jacqui Crocetta, whose sculpture, “Revealing the Invisible: My Cloak of Privilege”, felt a palpable energy and excitement in the air as the morning progressed.

“frayed” by Jacqui Crocetta. Her hand is reflected in the glass as she unwraps her installation.

The piece ‘frayed’, according to the Crocetta was interpreted as follows.

“The precarious and dynamic state of our democracy is a threshold that has extended over time. In “frayed,” the textured collagraph print of the flag is faded, the stars barely discernible. The double-sided torch suggests the potential for distinctly different outcomes. Some of the threats to democracy that I am reflecting on are: the refusal of election deniers to accept election results; the insurrection; voter suppression; and the disconnect between public opinion and government policy set by those in power (such as recent Supreme Court decisions). I ask myself, ‘what will it take to overcome the polarization and distrust that is fueling our country’s decline?'” said Crocetta.

Jacqui Crocetta’s sculpture, “Revealing the Invisible: My Cloak of Privilege”
Jacqui Crocetta assembles “Revealing the Invisible: My Cloak of Privilege” with Ira Tattelman “Moving into Frame” in the foreground

“I think it’s fantastic that this story bridges people together and shows them what happens behind the scenes when art is being installed,” said Crocetta.  “This space – the historical building within the setting of Alexandria – is gorgeous. When the works come into this space, we don’t quite yet know how the pieces are going to fit together, but soon there is a dialogue among the pieces which takes place. The context makes a real difference.”

Ira Tattelman’s “Moving into Frame”
Zofie King setting up “Final Thoughts”

“In architecture, thresholds can connect spaces in deliberate and inventive ways, but they are often mere afterthoughts resolved by things like a simple door. We use the term to describe a state of potential or transition from something present to something unknown, a precipice that can be exciting and terrifying,” said Wanna

Sun rays cast light upon a track leading to Ira Tattelman’s “Moving into Frame”

“At times we think of thresholds as temporary spaces or states that we pass through, often quickly, on our way from one thing to something else—the emphasis is on the current and next states. What if they could be reimagined as frontiers, temporary resting places that can hold us as we take in a current position and survey what is about to emerge?” asked Wanna.

The opening reception is this Sunday, January 15th, from 4-6 p.m., and the Artist Talk will be held Sunday, February 5, at 2 p.m. The public is invited to come be part of this immersive experience at The Athenaeum Gallery, which runs January 12 – February 5. 

[SEE ALSO: Ukrainian Family Flees War and Chooses Alexandria as New Home]

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