between a rock and a soft place, a group exhibition of 5 regional artists, comes to Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

between a rock and a soft place, a group exhibition of 5 regional artists, comes to Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

On view December 10, 2022 – February 26, 2023 

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents between a rock and a soft place, a group exhibition reframing the concept of rest as more than a reward for work, but as a practice in itself. between a rock and a soft place is on view at Tephra ICA December 10, 2022– February 26, 2023. An opening reception and artist talk will be held on Saturday, December 10 from 5–7pm. 

Guest Curated by Deirdre Darden, between a rock and a soft place features new work by Holly Bass, Adjoa Burrowes, Deborah R. Grayson, Katie O’Keefe, and Britt Sankofa. Bringing together the work of these five regional, contemporary artists, the exhibition opens a conversation about negotiating societal structures that stand between the subject and a life of ease. The exhibition poses a series of questions: Who gets rest and when? What is truly restorative? What permissions do we allow for ourselves to slow down, and how? 

Darden worked with selected artists to develop this group exhibition in which each artist presents new work. In acknowledgment of the many traumas endured individually and collectively over the past two years, between a rock and a soft place explores the concepts of rest and reprieve as a starting point for the artistic process. Seeking diverse perspectives around this topic, Deirdre Darden and Tephra ICA invited artists to respond to the following exhibition prompts: What would your artwork look like if you were well rested? How could you conceive of your practice if all your needs were met? 

“When the pandemic forced me to rest, I realized that it was the essential missing piece of my practice. As independent curators and artists, we’re always thinking of the next deadline while trying to meet the current one. It’s a cyclical life that leaves little time for reprieve,” says Darden. “As I worked with Tephra ICA to develop the theme of the [open] call, I settled on the idea of rest. Research led me to understand this idea of creating art around ‘burnout’ wasn’t just a pandemic trend. Many contemporary artists have started to adjust their subject matter to reflect the need to see people, especially black people, disabled people, and more marginalized folks at ease. Domestic scenes, peering out a window, moments of joy, tending a garden. This is the art of the rest revolution.” 

between a rock and a soft place is the 2023 iteration of the Tephra ICA Mary B. Howard Invitational, a biennial group exhibition featuring the work of five regional contemporary artists. For each iteration of the show, Tephra ICA works with a guest curator to produce the exhibition through an open call for artists. This program values exhibition-making as a meaningful collaboration between artist and curator and a generative process that feeds the development and public presentation of innovative new work. The Invitational is named in memory of Mary B. Howard, an artist, long-time board member, and staunch supporter of Tephra ICA. This exhibition is funded in part by ArtsFairfax. 

Opening Reception and Artist Talk

Saturday, December 10, 5pm 

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A. FREE and open to the public. RSVP in advance here. In addition to the in-person program, the Artist Talk will be livestreamed beginning at 5:30pm and guests are welcome to join via Zoom with this link. Artist Talk is Sponsored by Reston Community Center. 

Pictured at top:

Left:  Deborah R.Grayson, Harriet, 2022 

Right:  Adjoa Burrowes, Garden Imprint 1, 2022 

About Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA)

Tephra ICA is a non-profit, non-collecting institution committed to promoting innovative contemporary art and thinking. Leading with curiosity and care, the organization is a catalyst, generator, and advocate for visual arts. 

Tephra ICA is supported in part by ArtsFairfax, Reston Community Center, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Tephra ICA
2001 Market St #103
Reston, VA

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