The Torpedo Factory Art Center presents the work of artists Donna Lee Gallo, Pamela E. Underhill, and Veronica Melendez for our 2019 Summer Seasonal Art Installations. The Summer Seasonal Art Installations exhibition was curated by Anne Burton, Gallery Director at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, MD, and Gabrielle Tillenburg, Visual Arts Coordinator at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD. The goal of the seasonal art installations is to activate public space for visitors with site-specific and immersive public art. We rotate exhibitions throughout the year to keep the artwork fresh and constantly evolving.
On view from June 9
Circle of Energy is an installation featuring healing sticks by Donna Lee Gallo and talking sticks by Pamela E. Underhill.
According to traditional African and Native American cultural arts for healing, a particular ritual is said to take place when a loved one passes in the tribe. During the ceremonial rites, the body of the deceased is burned; their bones and blood are painted and hung from a tree along with natural objects; they are prayed upon by the community to help heal the loss of the beloved. Donna Lee Gallo’s study in the indigenous culture and its method for healing has led her to creating healing sticks that symbolize one’s connection to the earth and with one another.
Pamela E. Underhill’s study focuses on Shamanic Practices of the Peruvian Shamans and Cherokee Healers. Both cultures share an ancient prophecy that when the earth begins to perish, the indigenous healers from all over the world will begin the teachings to all who listen. Underhill’s Talking Sticks represent the community that listens; the idea is that when a person talks, the rest is silent until it is their turn to hold the stick and speak.
Circle of Energy represents healing, community, and one’s connection to the earth. Through the use of ephemeral objects found in nature, the “power sticks” honor diverse cultures, strength of oneness, and the spirit of passed loved ones.
About the Curator
Anne Burton is a curator, exhibit designer and graphic designer. She is currently the Gallery Director at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, MD and was previously the Exhibitions Coordinator at VisArts in Rockville, MD. Burton has more than 20 years of experience in exhibit design and graphic design, including nine years working in-house for Special Olympics at their international headquarters. For more than 10 years she taught design courses as an adjunct at area colleges, including the Corcoran College of Art + Design, American University, and Montgomery College. Burton completed the graduate program at The Basel School of Design in Basel, Switzerland and earned her BFA at Trinity College in Washington, DC.
On view from July 13
Art installations by Veronica Melendez
Local artist Veronica Melendez’s Summer Installation features images from her photography series, Federal City, exploring the continual development and resulting gentrification in the Capital Region, in a new site-specific format. Melendez’s images of signs often seen wrapping fences bordering construction sites in D.C has only been exhibited on paper until now. Printed on the same mesh material she photographs, the work takes on new life as the industrial space of the Torpedo Factory becomes visible through the opaque material. Also taking on new life, illustrations from Melendez’s Iconic series are for the first time transformed into three-dimensional sculptures. Referencing canned Goya beans and bagged Maseca, a widely used cornmeal that has recently been discovered to contain traces of toxic Monsanto weedkiller, the installations contemplate the importance of tiendas latinas and Latinx food within the diaspora, and the effects of industrialization on Latinx communities. The structures allude to both ancient Mayan pyramids and store displays, exploring historical usage of corn and beans, the relationship between food and city, and the aesthetics and culture of tiendas latinas. Together in the industrial setting of the Torpedo Factory, the works examine the space and history Latinx communities hold within the Capital Region and how urban shifts affect them.
Veronica Melendez is an artist based out of Washington D.C. She received her MFA from the University of Hartford and BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. From illustrations of iconic household products to photographs documenting the diaspora of Central Americans within the D.C. metro area, her work is greatly influenced by her Latinx upbringing. Having been raised in D.C within one of the largest Central American communities in the United States her work gives a platform to a voice that is often marginalized and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of culture and representation in art. Veronica also co-runs La Horchata Zine – a seasonal magazine featuring artists with Central American ancestry.
About the Curator
Gabrielle Tillenburg holds a B.F.A. in Film from the University of Central Florida. Producing film screenings and coordinating a multimedia exhibition led her to pursue a career in arts administration. A DMV native, she returned to the District and has worked as the Visual Arts Coordinator at the Mansion at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD for the past four years where in addition to developing exhibition-related events and education opportunities, she programs exhibitions featuring emerging to mid-career artists. Outside of Strathmore, she has worked with Adah Rose Gallery at Pulse Miami, independently curated exhibitions including Soft Serve at Willow Street Gallery, and participated as a reviewer for Willow Street Gallery’s public Portfolio Review program. Inspired by artists whose work share perspectives sometimes absent in dominant cultural narratives, she seeks the powerful community engagement that occurs when these works are shared widely.
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