Craft and Character: Wasteland, an exhibition of pen and ink on paper by Matthew D. Kiehl, will be on display from Friday, February 8 through Sunday, March 17 in the Margaret W. and Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery, located in the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall & Arts Center at the Alexandria Campus.
The opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, February 9 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Gallery Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and during performances.
In Craft and Character: Wasteland, Kiehl reflects on making artwork beyond merely an external activity. He explains, “In many cultures and religions, arts and crafts have very specific uses, and art must fit within those strict guidelines in order to avoid being superficial.” He is inspired by Buddhist artists who work long hours in order to find enlightenment, Islamic artists who take up craft to communicate peace and the vastness of Allah, and the patience of Irish artists who worked for decades to complete a single copy of the Bible. Matthew affirms, “It is my hope that craft can help us on our way to character, to love, peace, humility, compassion and a genuine forgetfulness of self in the dance of community. My pen and ink drawings are a reminder that true character is born out of a mature response to our loneliness, finitude, and the permanency of our actions (all of which are aspects of working with ink).”
Kiehl creates his drawings free-hand. He does not pre-plan his marks. At the most, he will draft geometry in pencil before he begins. He then fills it in with shapes. Each shape is created so it fits within the community of shapes building one shape off of another. He elaborates, “I often contemplate the “permanency of action” as I place the ink onto the paper. There is no taking it back–each mistake must be confronted, reconciled, and brought through patience, into peace with the whole.” When a drawing is complete Matthew sometimes harshly damages and distresses the paper with ink, fire, wax, tea, coffee. He explains, “This is done in part to fill the negative space with subtlety, to remind the viewer of the paper, but also as a reminder that nothing lasts forever in this world.”
Kiehl became a studio artist at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia in June 2011. He has a degree in studio art from Messiah College in 2009.
The Fisher Art Gallery is located on the upper level of the Schlesinger Center. For more details, go to: http://www.schlesingercenter.com.