Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art presents Dominic Chambers: What Makes the Earth Shake

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art presents Dominic Chambers: What Makes the Earth Shake

On View September 10 – November 20, 2022

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents What Makes the Earth Shake, an exhibition of work by proliferate, figurative painter Dominic Chambers, on view September 10 – November 20, 2022, at Tephra ICA. An in-person opening reception and artist talk will be held on Saturday, September 10, 6pm – 8pm.

Chambers (b. 1993 St. Louis, MO; lives and works in New Haven, CT) creates vibrant paintings that simultaneously engage art historical models, such as color field theory and gestural abstraction, along with contemporary concerns around race, identity, and the necessity for leisure. This is the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. “Dominic Chambers’ practice is vivid, poetic, and imbued with a spirit of restoration,” says Tephra ICA Executive Director and Curator. “We’re thrilled to share his work with the region.”

The exhibition takes its title from James Baldwin’s 1962 Letter to My Nephew, where Baldwin describes black life as being a reality constructed and sustained by the white imagination. The text references that, consequently, black people have had to traverse a haunting social and psychological landscape in the pursuit of freedom, equality, and self-actualization. The works by Dominic Chambers in What Makes the Earth Shakehighlight the surreal conditions pervading black life. Surrealism manifests on the periphery of a seemingly ordinary experience, where racial undertones are the shadows of conversation.

“Too often, the black body has been located in our imaginations as one incapable of rest,” Chambers explains. “Often when we imagine what the black body is doing, it is usually an act of labor, rebellion, or resistance.

Born at Night (Africanus in Black)
Remembrance Veil
Some Other Place
Well, Well, Well (Chiffon in Green)
Dark Skin of a Summer Shade
Send it On (A Love Letter to Love)
The Sweetest Thing
Window Gaze (Ghost Hand)

The paintings in the exhibition insist on destabilizing the laborer, rebel, and insurgent roles for black people and assert the importance of authorship over one’s own reality. Forging images of the black body, undisturbed, in radiant fields of color, Chambers foregrounds the black subject and color-field painting as harmonious companions. He proposes crucial spaces for contemplation within which his subjects can forge and reforge relationships with their minds, bodies, and souls.

Chambers received a BFA from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and an MFA from Yale University School of Art. His work can be found in a number of private and public collections, including the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Miami, FL; Green Family Foundation, Dallas, TX; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; and Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL. He is represented by Lehmann Maupin in New York, NY and Luce Gallery in Torino, Italy.

What Makes the Earth Shake will include an online viewing room, a narrated virtual tour, and a series of public programs. Tephra ICA is located at 12001 Market Street #103, Reston, Virginia and is open Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm.

Opening Reception and Artist Talk

Saturday, September 10
6pm – 8pm

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A. FREE and open to the public. RSVP in advance at rsvp@tephraica.org. This program is generously sponsored by Reston Community Center.

All images provided by Tephra ICA

Pictured at top: Step into the Shade

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. 


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