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Late Fall Exhibits at AU Museum Open

By Rebecca Basu

Blue Parrot Tulip Hybrid 3

Micheline Klagsbrun. Ink and color pencil on vellum. Courtesy the artist.

Late fall exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center open Saturday, Nov. 7 and close Saturday, Dec. 13.

Titus Kaphar's ambitious installation, The Vesper Project, is a sculptural statement that weaves the artist's own work into the walls of a 19th-century American house. The Vesper Project is a culmination of an intense five-year engagement with the lost storylines of the Vesper family. In the artist's musings, the members of the Vesper family and their histories are intertwined with Kaphar's autobiographical details, and layered with widely accepted cultural triggers of identity. 

Period architecture, gilt frames, a vintage typewriter, a neglected wardrobe and old photographs act as seemingly recognizable elements, but Kaphar insinuates doubt and transports the viewer into a disrupted mental state. As the house fractures, so does the viewer's experience. This exhibition, the first showing in Washington, D.C., is presented as part of the AU Department of Art's Visiting Artists Program and is sponsored by the Burger Collection.

In another installation, artists Francis Cape and Harmony Hammond teamed up for Angle of Repose. It features Cape's work called "Foreclosure," a scatter of evicted hand-crafted furniture coalescing around a depleted bed, and Hammond's large near-monochrome "Flesh Fold" paintings, with their skin pulled back to reveal a rawness underneath, and two smaller mixed-media works suggesting a rupture in the domestic environment. "Angle of repose" is a term used by engineers to describe the steepest angle to which a material can be piled without collapsing. The works of sculptor Cape and painter Hammond reflect on the precariousness—financial, political, social and emotional—of our lives.

Susanne Kessler: Jerusalem. German-born artist Kessler has created a work unique to the AU Museum, a combination of drawing, installation, and mixed media inspired by the city map of Jerusalem. Kessler explores how the city has transcended international conflict and war between religions as a spiritual location for three monotheistic religions, referring back to a common root and the beauty and wisdom of the three.  

Washington, D.C., Artists on Display

Joseph White: Paintings and Watercolors 1963-2008 is a retrospective showcasing the diversity of Joseph White's work, including large-scale representational paintings, works on paper and his current paintings based on his post-it drawings.

Beverly Ress: The World is a Narrow Bridge features an exhibit of representational colored pencil drawings cut into, folded, and manipulated, so that they sometimes have a sculptural quality. The exhibit pairs with another drawing exhibit, Micheline Klagsbrun: FREE FALL FLOW, featuring the artist's most recent body of work, ranging from ink and pencil drawings on vellum of various scale to large canvases and three-dimensional wall hangings and sculptural forms.

Two Designers and Their Art: Michael Graham and Marc Pekala. The artists, trained as graphic designers, have taken their visual training in applied art and used it as the foundation of their personal artistic explorations. The exhibit consists of drawings, paintings, collage and digital prints.