The Features

King Me: An Interview with Laura Elkins

KING ME, Studies in the Uncivilized World, Installation View. Photo courtesy The Fridge.

Tucked back in an alley off of 8th Street in Eastern Market, The Fridge is an unimposing gallery space; and perhaps it’s that quiet intimacy that makes it such an interesting location for KING ME: Studies in the Uncivilized World – a show about authority and domination.

Showcasing works by DC artists, KING ME is at once political and quirky. It deals with power struggles over everything from gay marriage to consumerism and uses a variety of media, including thread, film, acrylic, and Tyvek.

Highlights include Seleshi Feseha’s obsessively-crafted thread collages, Stanley Squirewell’s striking use of mixed media, and numerous pieces by Laura Elkins, whose first lady self-portraits particularly stand out.

I sat down with Elkins to talk about some of her work on display at KING ME, and the inspiration behind it.

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The Features, The Hill, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Evolve Urban Arts Project

Evolve at the Pierce School. Photo courtesy Eric Hope.

Evolve at the Pierce School. Photo courtesy Eric Hope.

Arts organizations tend to get hit the hardest in times of economic distress or, let’s face it, the current weather crisis. When galleries and theaters have to shutter their doors for even one night, it can be devastating. So consider this your PSA for Arts today: once we’re out of this mess, hit a play, see an exhibit, get out there and help the arts as much as you can. They’re really going to need it.

And there are so many worthy arts centers here in DC that go beyond the typical; we are truly lucky! One such unassuming place is Evolve Urban Arts Project in the H Street Arts District, with a special mission to promote local artists. Basically, says curator Eric Hope, “I’m trying to take some chances and give exposure to up-and-coming artists.” The recent exhibit by Dana Ellyn in December was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, and upcoming shows look to match that intensity. Let’s take a closer look at one of DC’s pioneering galleries.

Evolve Urban Arts Project came about when Chris Swanson and Jeff Printz bought the Pierce School in 2000 and renovated it to include a home for themselves and several loft units. A few years later, they started arts exhibits in the main foyer and throughout the public spaces of the building. Curator Eric Hope came on board in April 2009 and saw the potential to expand their profile in the DC arts community. The only steadfast rule, strongly encouraged by Swanson, is the promotion of local talent, and the exhibition space is free to the artists.

“Lowkey really describes us,” Eric explains, “I’m happy to have the freedom to work with artists who push boundaries and take chances.”

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