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New at AU Museum: Argentine Glass and ‘Locally Sourced’ Art and More

By Rebecca Basu

Chronicles of War, Faces

Chronicles of War, Faces. Phyllis Plattner, 2012. Oil and gold leaf on linen on panel, 49 x 60 in. Courtesy of artist.

Winter exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center open Jan. 24, 2015 and close March 15.

Identidad showcases the work of Argentine glassmaker Silvia Levenson, featuring 116 intricate pieces of cast glass baby clothing, an homage to the social movement of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The grandmothers lead a campaign to reunite missing grandchildren with their families following the Dirty War, a dark chapter in the country's history. In March 1976, after the overthrow of President Isabel Perón, a military dictatorship took hold for seven years. Many young pregnant women, believed to be political dissidents, were kidnapped, tortured and killed. Their children disappeared after birth and were later stripped of their identities and given up for adoption.

Levenson, who was 19 in 1976 and pregnant with her daughter, but not kidnapped, identifies as a survivor. She channels that identity and her emotional connection to the grandmothers to push the bounds of her skills as a glassmaker and produce the refined glass works of Identidad. "I feel that glass is the ideal medium for conveying this mixed feeling of beauty, fragility and tensions that represents our human condition," Levenson said.

Locally Sourced is the first exhibit in the four-part series "Do You Know Where Your Art Comes From?" curated by Victoria Reis, executive & artistic director of Transformer, a D.C.-based non-profit that promotes emerging artists. The exhibit, which features more than 300 small works in a variety of mediums, showcases the work of artists supported by Community Supported Art (CSA) and Flat File programs. Selected artists utilized silk, paint, sculpture, digital prints, collage, and other means. This exhibition will span the 2nd floor of the American University Museum. See more at

Phyllis Plattner: Gods of War! is a painted meditation appropriating images of war and religion to contrast the opposing drives of violence and peace. Plattner draws upon images of war from art history and photojournalism to capture the rationale of those who wage battles in God's name. This solo exhibition features monumental, highly narrative altarpieces from Plattner's Legends and Chronicles of War series.

Photoworks: Presence of Place brings together works of the past and present by members of the Photoworks community at Glen Echo Park in Washington, D.C., including faculty and students who have distinguished themselves by the quality and integrity of their art. Photoworks is a collaboration of artists started 40 years ago by four young photographers with a shared mission of seeing, shooting and printing images of lasting beauty and artistic integrity in their daily work. AU Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen curated the exhibit, which is in memory of Elsie Hull Sprague, an artist who received an M.A. in Film from AU's School of Communication.

Dean Byington: Building Without Shadows is a collection of paintings composed of a dense profusion of original and appropriated images. Pieces reflect the 1950s and 1960s art culture of the San Francisco Bay Area, where Byington has lived and worked since the mid-1980s. His work recalls surrealist collage and the assemblage and psychedelic aesthetic of that time to envelope the viewer in an enigmatic narrative that hovers between history, mythology, sociopolitical observations and autobiography.