The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art will Feature Installations with Environmental Tension in Winter/Spring Exhibitions

Courtney Mattison, Our Changing Seas III, 2014.  Glazed stoneware and porcelain, 10 x 14 x 2 feet, Courtesy of the Artist.  Photograph by Arthur Evans.
Courtney Mattison, Our Changing Seas III, 2014. Glazed stoneware and porcelain, 10 x 14 x 2 feet, Courtesy of the Artist. Photograph by Arthur Evans.
(Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art)
  • Crystal Wagner, Bio Interloper Grand Rapids, 2014.  Courtesy of the Artist.

    Crystal Wagner, Bio Interloper Grand Rapids, 2014. Courtesy of the Artist.

    Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Crystal Wagner, Surface Tension, 2015.  Courtesy of the Artist.

    Crystal Wagner, Surface Tension, 2015. Courtesy of the Artist.

    Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) December 14, 2015 — The galleries at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) will morph into landscapes cascading with intricately built structures by two poignant female artists; Courtney Mattison and Crystal Wagner, along with a spectrum of creative talent from across the Commonwealth in MOCA’s Winter/Spring Exhibitions: January 30-April 17, 2016.

Courtney Mattison is an artist and ocean advocate with a background in marine conservation ecology who references her firsthand knowledge of coral reefs to intricately hand-craft complex ceramic works that celebrate the fragile beauty of endangered reef ecosystems. In Courtney Mattison: Sea Change, ceramic artworks incorporate colors, textures, and forms of marine invertebrates while highlighting the effects of climate change. Some corals fade to white, representing coral bleaching. In one installation, anemones, sponges, and corals spill down the wall, exploring the ominous effects of sea level rise on human and ocean life. Mattison believes that art has the power to motivate change in ways scientific data cannot.

Lynnhaven River Now (LRN) will assist MOCA in creating hands-on activities about oyster beds in ARTlab (MOCA’s interactive gallery) to accompany Mattison’s exhibition. “Oysters grow very similarly to coral reefs and both are threatened by ocean acidification,” said Alison Byrne, director of exhibitions and education at MOCA. “Since coral reefs are found in tropical oceans near the equator, we thought exploring a local endangered aquaculture would provide a great stage for education and community activism.”

Artist Crystal Wagner’s installations are vast, swirling maelstroms of color and texture formed from manufactured objects, such as dollar store tablecloths and straws. Wagner weaves them onto a wire armature where they take on a life of their own. In Crystal Wagner: Surface Tension these structures evolve from their own mundane beginnings and begin to resemble waves, amoebas, algae, fungus or perhaps viruses. A selection of Wagner’s small sculptural pieces, or “terrariums” will also accompany this exhibition. These deep, wood shadow boxes house delicate, vibrantly colored cut paper sculptures that appear kinetic.

A diverse array of Virginia artists will be on display in MOCA’s annual juried exhibition, NEW WAVES 2016. Over 280 artists from across the Commonwealth submitted work (another record submission). This year’s guest juror is Jan Tumlir, an art-writer and professor based in Los Angeles. He is a founding editor of the local art journal X-TRA, and his articles appear regularly in Artforum and Flash Art. Guests to the exhibition can vote for their favorite work from the selected 28 artists for the People’s Choice award.

MOCA’s Community Gallery will feature John Rudel: Absorb, Resist Edit and Seek an exploration in painting. Parts left behind when constructing a useful object, such as a washing machine are what Norfolk-based artist John Rudel uses as the foundation for these found-art creations.

A series of contemporary animated shorts celebrating filmmakers who include water as a significant role will complement this exhibition round. Just Add Water will loop daily in MOCA’s Price Auditorium; free with museum admission.

MOCA invites the public to celebrate the opening of their Winter/Spring Exhibitions on Friday, January 29th, from 6:30-9:30pm with fine fare from Catering Concepts; Creative Catering of Virginia; Gourmet Bake Shoppe; North End Catering, Sweetwater Cuisine; Chef by Design Catering Co., live music by BJ & JB, and a cash bar. Awards will be presented to NEW WAVES 2016 artists by juror Jan Tumlir, including Best in Show. Exhibiting artists Courtney Mattison and Crystal Wagner will also give gallery talks. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at www.VirginiaMOCA.org or at the door. MOCA members plus one guest are free. Memberships can be purchased and applied toward admission at the reception.

For more information about MOCA’s Winter/Spring Exhibitions and associated programming, including an Artist Talk and Master Class with Courtney Mattison, please visit the museum’s website: www.VirginiaMOCA.org.

About MOCA: The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Virginia Beach, is a non-profit that exists to foster awareness, exploration and understanding of the significant art of our time. MOCA is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). As Virginia's only museum dedicated solely to the exhibition of contemporary art, MOCA encourages visitors to discover and explore art and to engage in hands-on art experiences. www.VirginiaMOCA.org.

About Courtney Mattison: Born and raised in San Francisco, Courtney Mattison received an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Marine Ecology and Ceramic Sculpture from Skidmore College in 2008. She received a Master of Arts in Environmental Studies from Brown University with coursework at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. Mattison has exhibited her work nationally including at the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY, the headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

About Crystal Wagner: Crystal Wagner lives and works in Harrisburg, PA. She received her MFA from the University of Tennessee and her BFA from the Atlanta College of Art.  Her exhibition schedule includes growing large-scale installations all over the United States. Past installations include Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (Grand Rapids, MI), National Museum of Singapore, Singapore and in Times Square, NYC. Wagner is a recipient of the 2015 Pollock-Krasner Grant. She is represented by Hashimoto Contemporary, San Francisco, CA.

About John Rudel: Batten Associate Professor of Art at Virginia Wesleyan College, Rudel also serves as Curator of Exhibitions. Rudel was awarded the Batten Professorship in 2014. He has exhibited his work across the country in venues including the Georgia Museum of Art (Athens, GA), the University of Miami Art Museum (Oxford, OH), the Lauren Rodgers Museum (Laurel, MS), the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (Brooklyn, NY), and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (Virginia Beach, VA).

About Jan Tumlir: Art-writer and professor based in Los Angeles, Tumlir is a founding editor of the local art journal X-TRA, and his articles appear regularly in Artforum and Flash Art. He has written catalog essays for such artists as Bas Jan Ader, Uta Barth, John Divola, James Welling, Jorge Pardo and Cyprien Gaillard. A member of the MFA faculty at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA this year Tumlir is visiting Washington University in St. Louis as the Wallace Herndon Smith Distinguished Professor of Art. Tumlir’s latest book, The Magic Circle, On The Beatles, Pop Art, Art-Rock and Records has just been released by Onomatopee.

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