BRENTWOOD – It has been said that mastering a skill comes with time. This applies to all things, including the ability to master art. The opening reception of “Boundless: Aging and Creativity,” an exhibition curated by students from the University of Maryland, College Park was held April 2 at the Brentwood Arts Exchange. Under the […]
BRENTWOOD – It has been said that mastering a skill comes with time.
This applies to all things, including the ability to master art.
The opening reception of “Boundless: Aging and Creativity,” an exhibition curated by students from the University of Maryland, College Park was held April 2 at the Brentwood Arts Exchange.
Under the guidance of University of Maryland’s arts history and archaeology professor, Jason Kuo, and Phil Davis, the director of Brentwood Arts Exchange, eight students had the opportunity to curate an exhibition that celebrates artists Bertrand Mao, Alonzo Davis, Dorothy Fall and Valerie Watson. All four of these Maryland-based artists have had diverse, but successful career paths.
Davis explained he and Kuo came up with the idea of having an independent studies class in curatorial practices for students to learn how to create an art exhibition and allow them to have hands-on experience.
“Dr. Kuo was researching the art that artists make in the older years of their life,” Davis said. “So I said, ‘let’s have the students work on that.’ It makes sense because the students are younger. They’re like 18, 19, 20-years-old, and have them working with senior citizens who are artists to cross those boundaries and think about that stage in your life.
“Hopefully we’ll all get there and what does it mean to be that age and making art? So that’s the idea. We don’t have an answer for that, but it’s about interacting with the artist while they’re exploring and learning.”
All of the artists said they drew their inspirations from a variation of sources.
Mao, a Chinese ink brush painter and calligrapher based in Rockville, said his work was inspired by nature such as flowers and landscapes. He used a calligraphy brush to create his work, which is a part of Asian culture.
“Anything that is nature is beautiful,” Mao said. “I paint nature. I don’t paint the high rise Empire State Building. I don’t like to paint that. I like to paint high mountains and trees.”
Davis, 74, based in Hyattsville, has been making art since elementary school. He talked about his journey starting off as a painter and then doing different forms of art, such as mixed media and sculptures. He also talked about how he began using bamboo in his work since the late 1990s.
“I actually had done a series of paintings at a place called the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts,” Davis said. “I had finished and went outside and saw some bamboo on the ground and decided to just see if I could add it to what I do.”
Davis explained art is his voice and his way of expression and his work has been inspired by his experiences traveling.
“I travel and occasionally some political things pop up that I want to react to,” Davis said. “Also my work is inspired by cultural experiences that I’ve had in this country and traveling around the world.”
Fall also said her work is inspired by her travels. She once lived in Cambodia and has traveled to Southeast Asia, as well as many other places. Her work in the exhibition focuses on trees.
“I always felt the trees had a living quality,” Fall said. “Sometimes I thought, maybe they’re looking at me or guarding me, so I started with some photos I had taken of trees from Costa Rica. I went on a trip there and I was fascinated by them. I interpreted them and I bought a role of paper and cut out a big space and I just basically started drawing.”
For Watson, the inspiration for work came from people she knew. A few of her paintings in the exhibition were portraits of American Indians. She also explained how she could relate to the title of the show.
“I’m all for it,” Watson said. “Boundaries or being bound, I’ll have nothing of it. I want to keep moving forward. I want the freedom to move and in the direction it will be an artistic move, but I shouldn’t be held back in anyway and when my birthday is shouldn’t matter.”
She also said her work represents the idea of being boundless and not holding back.
“You know what, I don’t hold back on color,” Watson said. “I like it when it kind of screams. Saturated color and watercolor, layers of transparent colors on top of other color, you get this luminous quality.”
University of Maryland student Ruoyu Zhu talked about what she learned from her experience being a part of curating the exhibition.
“I learned a lot, like how to communicate with artists and how to interview them,” Zhu said. “How to talk with them, learning the experience, and their ideas and how they would like their pieces to be showed.”
Davis discussed how he felt when he saw the final product of the exhibition.
“It makes you want to retire,” Davis said. “To be there with them. All of the artists in the show have had careers. They all kept making art their whole life. Now they’re in a part of their life where they get to focus on their creativity and the art blossoms.
“These four artists, they’re all in a phase in their life where they have a lot of experience and now they’re all able to focus on their art and when I see the show that comes out. Their artwork has continued to grow and improve.”