Stretch Cut Talk Pull – 2016 Bresler Residents

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Kaplan Gallery

Mei Mei Chang, Amy Hughes Braden, Jay Hendrick

Kaplan Gallery, VisArts (2nd floor)

January 20 – February 19, 2017


Opening Reception:

Friday, January 27, 7 – 9 PM


Panel Discussion: Sunday, February 12, 2:00 PM – Moderated by Laura Roulet and W. C. Richardson

The 2016 VisArts Bresler Resident artists discuss the projects that they engaged in during their residency.

For more info or to RSVP click HERE


Stretch, Cut, Talk, Pull features paintings, drawings, and collaborative projects made by 2016 VisArts Bresler Resident artists Mei Mei Chang, Amy Hughes Braden, and Jay Hendrick. These artists were selected to spend four months in a studio at VisArts making new work. The 2016 VisArts Bresler Residency called for artists whose primary studio practice focuses on painting or drawing. The residency offers artists the time and space to create a new body of work, evolve an existing body of work, or develop a project in a stimulating, supportive environment. The results are three studio investigations that question what painting and drawing are, how they can be made, and how they fit into the historical context surrounding these two activities.


Drawing rests at the core of Mei Mei Chang’s practice even when her work expands into inventive mixed media installations and soundscapes. She has been exploring the confluence of inner thought and feeling with external stimuli. During her residency at VisArts she initiated a community drawing project in addition to developing new mind-map paintings and drawings. Chang asked people to bring her an object that made them feel a strong emotion (anger, joy, fear, or sadness). She asked each person to tell her about the object, recorded their story, and made a drawing in response. Some people made a drawing along with Chang. Often the participants had little or no experience drawing, but when it came to making a visual expression of their story, the drawing just emerged. “This became a new way of making a drawing,” said Chang. “It was a real honor to listen to these incredible stories from a variety of lives. The objects, our conversations, and the drawings all became “the drawing,” a way of pulling a line out from an individual’s experience and tangling it into my experience.”


Jay Hendrick has been experimenting with ways to make a painting through a process he calls “stretch and restretch.”  He decides how large a painting is going to be and then using stretcher bars that are often too small for the overall canvas, stretches a portion of the canvas, makes a painting, and then moves the stretcher bars to another spot. The final painting is an amalgamation of many paintings. Jay Hendrick also thought about how to involve the local community of painters with his studio residency. He asked painters Pat Goslee, Mei Mei Chang, Kathryn McDonnel, Matt Pinney, Becca Kallem, Amy Hughes Braden to collaborate with him on paintings. Hendrick  gave each of these artists his paintings to work on. When the paintings came back to his studio, Hendrick worked on them again. Questions of authorship and intention are central to his investigation as well as curiosity.  “I paint to learn,” says Hendrick. “The painting resembles a living thing. To paint is to understand paint in the same way that to live is to understand how to live.” The flexible, inventive ways that Hendrick approaches painting may reflect a direct relationship to his small town Texas upbringing. How to resist and challenge conditioned responses are operational challenges behind his investigation of painting. The grid acts as a stabilizing system that can be poked, prodded, and dissolved. The canvas can be folded, stretched again, draped, or thrown on the floor.  There can be one artist or two or more making one painting. “Each time, I have to deal with what came before,” Hendrick says. This holds true for both painting and life.  


Amy Hughes Braden uses painting to talk about things that she has trouble talking about. She says that she is concerned with the “density of painting”; how “it is the good way to be angry” and also “worldly.” Her paintings are visual, visceral platforms for a mash up of influences including feminism, personal history, current events, and art historical imagery. Partial figures or environments, words, thick and thin paint, and loud color appear often. Braden cuts pieces out of her paintings and stacks multiple paintings so that some parts are visible and other parts are covered. The paintings can be shifted and rearranged. Pieces of other paintings are attached to new paintings. They are assemblage in nature and suggest mutable states. Because the holes expose the stretcher bars (the skeleton of the painting), the paintings take on a risky violent character. The wall or scene behind the painting seeps in, strangely warping space, and challenging traditional classical concerns with creating an illusion. Braden’s paintings exist in a tipsy position as an incomplete thought or body that fluxes between repair and ruin.


The 2017 VisArts Bresler Residency accepted three artists whose primary studio practice focuses on social practice, community arts, and/or performance. Artists Maria-Theresa Fernandez, Krista Caballero, and Katie Kehoe were selected by jury to be the 2017 VisArts Bresler Residents.


About the artists:

Mei Mei Chang received her Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Ohio University in 2002. As a mixed media and installation artist, Mei Mei explores various media to bridge her internal and external worlds. She is a lifelong student of the human psyche, fascinated by the mind’s ability to focus on details great and small without limits. Using her internal symbols, she creates rich visual images that are both highly personal and accessible to all.


Amy Hughes Braden is an artist based in Washington, D.C. She recently traveled to Rome with through the non-profit Transformer, as a part of DC’s Sister Cities grant program. In 2015 she participated in Transformer’s Exercises for Emerging Artists program (E12), in collaboration with the Design Studio for Social Intervention from Boston. She created a social lab which explored what it means to be a feminist, and the resulting piece “Mrs. Alex Braden” was then exhibited at The Katzen Center. Braden shows work regularly in the DC/Baltimore area in both DIY and commercial spaces, as well as nationally. In 2014, Civilian Art Projects presented her solo exhibition, “Are You Gonna Eat That?” Braden is a current member of the art subscription service, Project Dispatch, a past member of the DCAC supported collective, Sparkplug 4, and a graduate of the Corcoran College of Art and Design.  Her work was recently exhibited at School 33 in Baltimore, in a show curated by Cynthia Connolly. Beginning in January 2017 Amy will be the Artist-in-Residence at the Cafritz Foundation Arts Center at Montgomery College.


Jay Hendrick (born Lubbock, Texas) lives and works in Fairfax, Virginia. His work has been shown in the United States, England, and Japan. He was featured in New American Painting 106. He received a Bachelor of Applied Studies and Bachelor of Fine Art from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. Hendrick received a Masters of Fine Art from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He teaches at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia. In 2017 he will exhibit his work at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn, New York and will be a resident artist at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia.


About the Fleur and Charles Bresler Residency:   This residency provides a unique opportunity for a dynamic individual artist or collaborative artist team to create a new body of work, evolve an existing body of work, or develop a project in a stimulating, supportive environment. Studio space is provided free of charge. The residency encourages interaction, dialogue, and exploration both within the VisArts artist community and the larger Rockville community as well. The residency offers the gift of time and space to three artists and/or collaborative artist teams each year to experiment and realize new work. Each year the current Bresler Resident Artists present their work in a three-person exhibition at VisArts. Bresler Residency application information is available at:


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