Corcoran unveils exhibitions with sculpture, immersive projection – The GW Hatchet

The bronze doors of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design’s Flagg Building Galleries have opened for the gallery’s fall season, flooding the lavish atrium with sunlight and ushering in the return of immersive, large-scale exhibits.

This month, the gallery will open a sculptural exhibition entitled “Renewal” which highlights the restored works of visual artist and sculptor Robert Stackhouse and “Legacy: Fifty Years of Dance on the Edge”, a celebration of the career of Corcoran dance teacher Maida Withers. These two exhibitions are respectively made up of sculptural art and video projections of dance choreography, marking the first of the fall season’s events.

Ghost Dance – a nearly five-foot-tall semi-circular vertical structure made of consecutive slats of industrial-grade reclaimed wood – marks the focal point of Renewal. On the adjacent wall, a display of Stackhouse’s watercolor renderings of the sculpture and detailed instructions for its original construction in 1974 accompany the structure. Stackhouse first unveiled Ghost Dance nearly 40 years ago, drawing inspiration from the 19th century Native American movement among the Nevada Northern Paiute to restore ownership of their land and way of life.

Krishna Rajpara | photo editing assistant

Stackhouse and his wife, Carol Mickett, who are artistic collaborators, unveiled the opening of their exhibit with a reception and talk last week titled “Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, Where We’re Going.” Babette Pendleton, Corcoran exhibition and programming associate, said the tagline sums up the exhibition, which is centered on the restoration of the artwork.

The sculpture explores themes of renewal, rebirth and sustainability through its use of recycled materials and now through its rebirth as part of a new exhibition. The Ghost Dance spiritual movement emerged after European settlers brought a devastating period of illness to the Paiute people of Nevada who wished to cleanse their land of European settlers and maintain its natural beauty.

Pendelton said that after sitting in gallery storage for over a decade, Ghost Dance needed restoration. The visible disrepair of wood and metal screws left Stackhouse and Mickett to decide between modernizing the construction or retaining its original appearance, Stackhouse said.

“The sculpture was not built as a nice piece of furniture,” Stackhouse said. “It was built more like a sketch. So there is no perfection there. Not everything fits. Not everything is the same size. So the question was how much can we change it? »

As viewers enter the gallery, Stackhouse invites them to walk around the structure to experience the “ritual motion” of the architectural piece as light filters through the gaps in the wooden slats. He said the coin’s curvature gives it the shape of an arc when viewed from the side, but simply a horizontal line when viewed from the front.

When selecting pieces to accompany Ghost Dance in the Renewal exhibit, Pendelton said she made an open call to the Washington Sculptors Group, a nonprofit that supports sculptor artists in the district, to find work. which would augment the design of Stackhouse and complement the exhibit. place in the gallery. The result displays a vibrant assortment of sculptural art constructed from driftwood, an old shirt, seashells, cardboard, leftover house paint and repurposed frames that invite the viewer to find the innate artistic nature of common recycled goods.

“Some are very obvious and some are very subtle,” Stackhouse said. “Some I look at and I don’t know what the artist’s intention was, but I can see some things where it’s a very clever use of the connection between what they see and what they’ve done. . So really, I’m happy to see that this sculpture is helping people manage their creative process.

Open Wednesday to Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. until December 3.

Legacy: Fifty years of dancing on the razor’s edge
Friday will mark the opening of Legacy: Fifty Years of Dancing on the Edge, a dynamic exhibition honoring dance teacher Corcoran Withers’ spectacular body of choreographic work through technology, such as projected video archives.

The daunting task of distilling a five-decade career of contributions to the world of dance, with Corcoran included, into a single exhibition was no small feat for Withers and her collaborators. The result is a cohesive production that showcases her lifelong love of dance and her leadership of the Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, a DC-based group that performs original choreography across the United States and around the world.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Schroth

Withers has taught classes in subjects such as choreography, improvisation, and performance art theory and practice at GW since 1965. She said she has worked to expand the curriculum so that it could include space for more dancers who did not fit classical body types and dance styles. expected in the world of classical ballet to pursue undergraduate and master’s studies in dance.

“When I came to the program, I brought the philosophy that dance should be for anyone who wants to do it,” Withers said.

Fifty years later, she has amassed an archive of work that includes over 100 pieces of original choreography commemorated in image or video and aggregated in an online archive. Today in Legacy, she has selected seven pieces to display in their entirety on seven large monitors erected in the gallery’s atrium. In a room adjacent to the atrium, countless other choreographic works have been condensed into short 10-second segments that will be projected in a mosaic of alternating videos spanning the entirety of the walls and ceiling, completely immersing the viewer.

To execute the projections, Withers said he collaborated with local projectionist Robin Bell, known for projecting political statements onto influential buildings in the district, like the display of “Pay Trump scraps here” on the Trump International Hotel during Donald Trump’s four-year presidency. She said they worked together in complementary styles and shared a proclivity for experimenting with light and lasers and incorporating pointed messages about censorship, intersectionality and the environment.

Withers said she was thrilled to see the gallery include a dance exhibit because she doesn’t see dance featured in many museums.

“It’s kind of symbolic for me, to be able to have the University recognize that as an art teacher, there are a lot of different places for a dance career at GW,” Withers said.

Friday’s opening event will feature a panel discussion titled “Dancing in DC – 50 Years…. What Happened?” in which a variety of DC dance experts will talk about their own experiences over the past 50 years of the dance world. A celebration on October 7 at the gallery will include live performances from a number of musicians and dancers who have collaborated with Withers in the past.

Open Wednesday to Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Historical exhibition – open from Sept. 23 to Oct. 23. Projection installation – open from Sept. 23 to Dec. 10.

Erika Filter contributed reporting.

Julia P. Cluff