April 19 – 28, 2016

Communions/Repositories explores the individual struggles faced by artists Donna Cooper Hurt and Michaela Pilar Brown as they work to navigate issues of identity, sexuality, and notions of femininity through their artwork. The artists’ use of their physical selves in combinations with space and objects creates a timely and personal discussion on race, sexuality, and the woman’s body.

This exhibition is organized by independent curator and founder of 300 Arts project, Jonell Logan.

Performance, Artists’ Talk & Closing Reception: Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m.

Artist Statement: Michaela Pilar Brown

My installations, collage and photographs address issues attendant to the black body. I use nontraditional materials and their juxtaposition to each other, and/or dissimilar objects, to make statements about the body and its relationship to larger cultural themes of age, gender, race, sexuality, history and violence.

I consider memory, myth, ritual, desire and the spaces the body occupies within these vignettes. The narratives move between past, present and surreal projections of the future, sometimes occupying these spaces simultaneously.

I explore the ritualized use of materials, objects, and architectural spaces, often queering their size, orientation or form to blur the line between memory, dream and experience, plotting the relationship between normative considerations of the body and its function in specified spaces.  I use racially identified signifiers to twist and turn mythologies about the body and the spaces that it occupies. The environments I create are disruptive, yet elegant.

Artist Statement: Donna Cooper Hurt

River Place is where it began. It’s a place in Virginia on the Roanoke River and also the name of a series of work dealing with the domestic space of a generational family farm.

I have always had issues with domestic space and have historically felt trapped and restricted in it. When the old family farm was bequeathed to me I decided to use the space as a catalyst to address issues of the body, history and memory.

Wanting to be uninhibited by social constraints, free to dissolve boundaries and break taboos, it became imperative for me to disrobe and acknowledge a different story of the space. Part of the work is claiming the space as my own, sinking into deep acceptance of my body and its maturity, and using the body to meditate and help me process and interpret the history and memories of the place. These memories are not just my conscious memories of growing up there but are my cellular memories of ancestors and lives lived in this space. I believe that objects have a “charge” and retain memories or energy of those that used them. Because of the this, objects in the house and around the farm become props in my performances.

After working in the farm house and out houses (corncrib, barn, etc) I started working in the landscape. This is where a huge shift took place for me personally and with the work. Being in the land, I had to acknowledge a more extensive history than that of my European ancestors. The memory and history of the land belonged to Native Americans and African Americans who all lived and walked on the same dirt on which I was walking.

My body became a conduit in transforming the invisible to the visible through building an ephemeral sculpture in the space and then allowing my body to dance/perform with the sculpture in the space. The resulting photographs exist as diptychs or triptychs and set up each frame to be in dialogue with the other, much like movie stills. The separation in the photographic frame is also symbolic of the dialogue taking place between my body and the earth.

The photograph is a document of a performance and ephemeral sculpture built from the natural resources in the space, but it also becomes a constructed narrative where my body becomes the protagonist that takes its gestural cues from the land and earlier lives lived there. While the narrative is new, it harkens or pulls from more ancient cultures where I am attempting to access the innate, wild intelligence of the body.


Thursday - Sunday
11 am - 5 pm
and Wednesday by appointment