Art and the Ecstatic
For thousands of years, humans have created art expressing their thoughts on creation, spirituality, and the divine. Visual art serves as a tool to witness and share feelings that cannot always be expressed in language. Like much of artistic expression, the ecstatic space has been dominated by men. What does it mean for women to document creation and divinity? As witnesses to the divine and creators of life and art, how can women illuminate spirituality? Join us for a conversation featuring mixed media artist Asha Elana Casey, multidisciplinary artist Oletha DeVane, and fiber and mixed-media artist Consuelo Jimenez Underwood as they discuss their work documenting the divine.
Asha Elana Casey is a mixed media artist living and working in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and a native Washingtonian. She earned her BFA from the Corcoran School of Art at George Washington University. From childhood, she has always been fascinated with stories and personal narratives. Her current body of work is an extension of that thread. It centers godliness and self-preservation unique to African American spiritual culture. Casey’s exhibitions include shows at George Washington University, the Katzen Arts Center, and Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center. She has also been awarded the Anderson Ranch Residency. Her work has been covered by the Washington Post, City Paper, NBC, and Brightest Young Things.
Oletha DeVane is a multidisciplinary artist who explores diverse political and social identities as well as cultural interpretations. Her work is in permanent museum collections and has been exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; Museum of the Bible, New York; Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.; Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore; Dixon Gallery & Garden, Memphis; and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
DeVane was the director of Tuttle Gallery and former head of visual arts at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland. In 2007, she was a recipient of the Rollins-Luetkemeyer Chair for Distinguished Teaching. She is also the recipient of a Rubys Grant (2017), two Art Matters grants (2017 and 2019), a Trawick Prize (2019), and the Anonymous Was A Woman Grant (2021). She was commissioned for the public artwork Memorial to Those Enslaved and Freed (2022) at McDonogh School and the Lexington Market Public Artwork in Baltimore City (2022). Her retrospective exhibition Spectrum of Light and Spirit opened September 22, 2022, at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).
Consuelo Jimenez Underwood was born in Sacramento, California, the daughter of migrant agricultural workers, a Chicano mother and a father of Huichol Indian descent. Her work ranges from delicate miniature tapestries to monumental fiber and mixed-media installations juxtaposing the natural beauty and ecological destruction along the U.S./Mexico border. Underwood has exhibited and lectured nationally and internationally for more than 30 years. Her work is part of the permanent collections of museums such as the Smithsonian American Museum of Art; Museum of Arts & Design, New York; the National Hispanic Center for the Arts, Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Mexican Museum, San Francisco; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; and the Oakland Museum of California. She was awarded the 2017 Master Artist Grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures and was elected to the Council of Fellows of the American Craft Council in 2018. She was also a 2021 recipient of the James Renwick Alliance for Craft Masters of the Medium Award.
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