Lost Europe: On the Edge of Memories invites viewers to contemplate pre-war Ukraine ways of living now altered and upended by war. Mounted throughout the museum’s third floor, the exhibit will showcase 75 black and white photographs, on display for the first time in a museum in the United States. The photographs span nearly three decades of predominantly rural Ukrainian life, from shortly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, to 2018.
As the Czech photographers Karel Cudlín, Jan Dobrovský and Martin Wágner experienced societal, political and economic upheaval as their own country transitioned to democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union, they sought to document the similar experiences of everyday life of Ukrainians during this time.
“All three artists are genuinely interested in Ukraine, and their documentary work has a deep human quality,” said curator Milena Kalinovska. “Their motivation was to capture something authentic, particular. These lyrical photographs, although straightforward and accurate, have ageless intensity and acknowledge deep historical context with lingering traces left.”
Karel Cudlín, born in 1960, trained in photography at the Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He worked as a photojournalist and was one of Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel’s official photographers. An award-winning artist, Cudlín is known for black and white documentary photographs.
Jan Dobrovský also born in 1960, saw his family persecuted by the Czechoslovak Communist regime. He became a dissident for human rights and was involved in publishing art and literature in samizdat (forbidden manual reproduction and distribution of censored and underground publications.) Formerly a journalist for the underground of Lidové noviny newspaper, he returned to black and white documentary photography full time in 2000. He is a co-founder of the group 400 ASA, a collective of Czech Republic documentarian photographers active worldwide.
Born in Prague in 1980, Martin Wágner attended the Prague School of Photography and graduated from the Institute of Creative Photography in 2013. Russia and Ukraine have been the focus of his intensive travels and work. Wágner has won several prizes and has exhibited at home and abroad.
Lost Europe: On the Edge of Memories will be on display until Dec. 10. More details about public events associated with the exhibit, including a symposium, artist’s talk and poetry reading, will be available by summer at american.edu/museum.
Exhibits on view through August 13:
Blue and Gray: This Era of Exile is a collaborative project by contemporary Amharic poet and artist Kebedech Tekleab and poet E. Ethelbert Miller that explores the human conditions of migration and displacement through art and poetry. Poet and visual artist Kebedech Tekleab was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She fled the military dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam and arrived in Washington, D.C. in 1989. She enrolled in Howard University where she earned both her Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees by 1995.
E. Ethelbert Miller was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1950. He attended Howard University and received a bachelor’s degree in African American studies in 1972. A self-described “literary activist,” Miller has received numerous awards for his writing and social justice work. Miller also has taught at schools in the area including AU and George Mason Univerisy. Curated by Prof. David Keplinger, award-winning poet and professor in AU’s Dept. of Literature.
Pilar Albarracín: Take a Knife and Open My Heart at AU Museum is the artist’s first solo show in the United States. One of the most prominent Spanish artists of her generation, Albarracín creates work in video, performance, installation, drawing, photography and craft that combines social engagement with formal aesthetics. With a selection of iconic video works and performances from 1990 to 2018, the artist browses and questions the construction of women’s identity based in the world of male supremacy and its inherent social structure. The exhibition also will feature “Ceiling of Offerings,” made of flamenco dresses hanging from a ceiling. Exhibit supported by the Embassy of Spain in the United States, Acción Cultural Española AC/E, art collector Tony Podesta, and the Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina.
At One with the Elements is artist Leigh Wen’s first exhibit in Washington, D.C. and explores Wen’s bond with nature through a vibrant array of oil paintings, mixed media collages, porcelain sculptures, and thematic dresses. From the immersive majesty of her mountain, sea, air, and firescapes, to her superscale flowers portraits, she draws on her dual identity as a Taiwanese American, while conjuring the sublime and encouraging reflection and a harmonious world view.
View from Within features a retrospective of glass art by photographer-turned-glass artist Rhoda Baer. Working in the technique of color laminated and carved optical glass, Baer has been refining her process since turning her talents to glass in 2005 after visiting a glass studio and becoming drawn to the medium.
Rupert Garcia and the Chicano Art Movement: Prints and Posters from the Corcoran Legacy Collection features more than 20 prints by the activist-artist from the museum’s Corcoran Legacy Collection, and the exhibit serves as an introduction to the Chicano Art Movement. One of the world’s most acclaimed Chicano artists, Garcia, born in 1941 in California, is known for showcasing social issues for which he fought. After participating in a 1968 student strike in San Francisco, he became aware of the artist’s role as a social activist. During this time, he shifted from easel painting to printmaking, creating images concerning racism, the Chicano movement, the struggle of the immigrant farm worker, and the poisoning of the environment.
MUSEUM INFORMATION, HOURS, LOCATION: The American University Museum is a three-story public museum and sculpture garden located within the university’s Katzen Arts Center. The region’s largest university facility for exhibiting art, the museum has a permanent collection that highlights the donors’ holdings and AU’s Corcoran Legacy Collection, Watkins Collection, and Rothfeld Collection. Rotating exhibitions emphasize regional, national, and international contemporary art. The Katzen Arts Center, named for Washington-area benefactors Dr. and Mrs. Cyrus Katzen, brings all the visual and performing arts programs at AU into one space.
Designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts, the Katzen includes the museum, the Abramson Family Recital Hall, the Studio Theatre, a dance studio, an electronics studio, artists’ studios, rehearsal space, and classrooms. For more information, call 202-885-1300 or look on the Web at www.american.edu/cas/museum. Follow the museum on Facebook (facebook.com/AmericanUniversityMuseum), on Twitter (@AUMuseum_Katzen), or on Instagram (AUMuseum_Katzen).