If variety is the spice of life, the latest exhibit at McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) is the artistic equivalent of a pot of extra-hot chili.
“Continuum: Artists Teaching Artists” features everything from paintings, paper sculptures, cast-glass creations and linoleum-cut prints to clay figures of animals, stop-motion video and an intricately patterned cut-paper wall hanging mirrored by a similar design in sand on the floor.
The exhibit, which opened Sept. 16 and runs through Nov. 10, features a dizzying array of artworks created by 18 educators from local colleges and teaching institutes, including George Mason University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Northern Virginia Community College, University of Maryland, Maryland Institute College of Art and Washington Glass School.
The show features works by artists David Carlson, Patrick Craig, Robert Devers, Kate Fitzpatrick, Helen Frederick, Janis Goodman, Rene Gower, Michael Janis, Maria Karametou, Steven Prince, John Ruppert, Foon Sham, Judy Southerland, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Stephanie Williams, Sue Wrbican and Peter Winant.
Erwin Timmers, who is affiliated with the Washington Glass School, provided several works incorporating recycled glass that he cast in plaster molds. His “Sitemap 2.0” is massive circular wall sculpture that thrusts out LED-backlighted blocks of green glass impressed with the shapes of quotidian items such as Styrofoam peanuts and the bottoms of plastic beverage bottles.
Recycled glass is a bit tricky to work with, said Timmers, who tries to take advantage of the material’s imperfections.
“There’s no manual,” he said. “You don’t get instructions with it. There’s a lot of experimentation involved.”
Kate Fitzpatrick’s long, unframed, acrylic-on-canvas artwork “Boundless” depicts wispy white lines rising upward on a black background.
“It’s representative of a kind of wordless landscape,” said Fitzpatrick, who was a Fulbright scholar. “It’s a reductive process where you’re scratching away at the surface of the canvas and then capturing the debris or detritus off of the canvas . . . Sgraffito is the technical name.”
Among Patrick Craig’s contributions is “Spiker,” a colorful acrylic-on-canvas painting showing a spiky object that resembles a rocket ship or perhaps a clump of ginger.
Tim Tate’s glass-and-mixed-media work “Purple Berry Endless Mirror” depicts a pair of revolvers reflected infinitely using mirrors.
Many of Helen Frederick’s paper-based abstract paintings and wall hangings have red as a unifying color. One, “Rameshwarem,” refers to a temple in southern India.
“When you go there, you have to bathe in the ocean and then you go into the temple and bathe 13 times with parables,” she said. “You go out and get out of your old clothes and put on dry clothes. All of the old clothes go to the poor. I’ve never experienced anything like that in our culture.”
The exhibit is about honoring the region’s artists, teachers and mentors who are dedicated both to teaching and creating their own bodies of work, said Nancy Sausser, MPA’s curator and artistic director, during a Sept. 22 reception for the artists.
“They bring so much – training other artists, pursuing their own work and teaching by example as well as by imparting information and wisdom,” she said. “Obviously, a lot of artists teach. It’s a good way to have financial security while you make your work, but it doesn’t always work out that well. Sometimes the pressures and the time constraints of teaching make it hard for artists to keep their work going and sometimes the teaching gets left behind as the work blooms.”
The Mid-Atlantic region has many artists/teachers and Sausser said she wished she could have included more of them in this exhibit.
“We might have to do this again at some point,” she said.
The Emerson Gallery portion of the exhibit is open Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Artworks displayed in the Atrium Gallery may be viewed during the McLean Community Center’s regular operating hours: Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. until midnight, Saturday from 9 a.m. until midnight and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
MPA, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is located at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave. MPA also will post the exhibition online and hold an artists’ talk on Oct. 13 (details yet to come). For more information, visit www.mpaart.org.