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Curated by Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud of
| ‘sindikit | and Greater Reston Arts Center

Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) presents the Mary B. Howard Invitational: An Excellent Thought About a Quality Idea, a group exhibition featuring work by Rahne Alexander, Matthew Mann, Omolara Williams McCallister, Zia Palmer, and Mojdeh Rezaeipour. The artists were selected by Guest Curators Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud, co-founders of | ‘sindikit |, and Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) Associate Curator Erica Harrison to revisit an older artwork and to redevelop the work into a new project.

In alignment with the ‘sindikit project’s commitment to supporting studio research and experimentation with an emphasis on gender, sexuality, and race, artists were invited to submit a proposal for the exhibition using the title, An Excellent Thought About a Quality Idea, as a prompt. Based on the prompt, the artists have investigated, explored, and developed concepts, receiving feedback from the curators along the way, to expand their genre and materials or explore their ideas in a completely new medium.

The exhibition is named in memory of Mary B. Howard, an artist, long-time board member, and staunch supporter of the Greater Reston Arts Center. 

View the exhibition online, here.

About Guest Curators Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud of | ‘sindikit 

The ‘sindikit project is a creative, self-funded endeavor that emphasizes and extends collaborative practices as artists and educators. Their interest in the intersections of art, community, and education makes it crucial to work both in and outside of the University system. ‘sindikit is a platform that includes artist projects and creative community conversations between cultural activators, visual artists, and their co-conspirators. The ‘sindikit project was founded with an interest in discussing socio-political and cultural issues that affect art and artists.



“In times of uncertainty, or between projects, I have periodically resorted to painting depictions of the sea in tumult. I began painting the Rogue Wave series in 2017 during a period of personal uncertainty that, in hindsight, seems quaint compared to the current moment. The title of the series is taken from a seldom observed and unpredictable ocean wave phenomenon that produces gargantuan waves capable of swallowing ships. Stylistically, the paintings marry a few longtime interests of mine: Zen brush painting, Abstract Expressionism, and 17th and 18th century maritime disaster paintings from England and the Netherlands. The Rogue Wave paintings employ the visual language of gestural abstraction to depict improbable, cartoon-like waveforms.”


Rogue Wave (Zlötuhb), 2020
Oil and acrylic on Plywood
107.75  x 96 inches 

“The painting takes its name from the ship that was sailed in J.A. Mitchell’s 1889 novella The Last American. The Last American is one of the first things that I read at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it struck me as particularly relevant. Set in the 30th century, it is the story of the rediscovery of America nine hundred years after its collapse by Persian explorers. As they travel, they tell stories about Americans being disloyal to one another, but having steadfast allegiances to money and material acquisition. These traits, exacerbated by plagues, climate change and greed, cause the undoing of America in the 1990s. The unseen cataclysms leading to the downfall of America in The Last Americanparallel the crises that we face today and are similar to rogue waves, a convergence of forces capable of incredible destruction.”




“For this exhibition, I have revisited a collection of my drawings from ages 4–9 and brought them to life through analog collage stop motion animation, installation, time-lapse movement, and projection mapping. The resulting work is a colorful world born out of the primary creative expressions of my younger self in a nonlinear collaboration across time and space.“


Top: Childhood drawing, 1990s
Bottom: Untitled, video still, 2020

“I was born in Iran and immigrated to the U.S. with my family at the age of twelve. My artistic practice began with explorations of identity and belonging rooted in immigrant and diasporic experiences.”


not yet titled, 2020
Mixed media and video installation
Dimensions variable

“I create mixed media works, site specific installations, and films that incorporate existing bodies of my 2D, sculptural, and video work as a part of their immersive vocabularies. These works often incorporate movement, color, light and shadow, natural elements, and my own body, in addition to objects and relics that carry a story or a sense of place. I start with however little I know, and clue by clue, a work unravels. Through this unraveling, and piece by piece, I create spaces to invite audiences inside of my own learning and allow them to engage with it in a playful way. I am devoted to and a student of this process.”


not yet titled, 2020
Mixed media and video installation
Dimensions variable

“Throughout the duration of this exhibition, this world will go through a series of transformations as I occasionally add to, interact with, animate, and document its evolving visual language and layer new elements into the videos. I view this piece – and this process – as simultaneously poem, prayer, puzzle.”




I Am The End Of The Patriarchy And So Can You
(detail), 2020

Silk, commercial and homemade inks, and poplar dowels
72 inches x 48 inches

“I Am The End Of The Patriarchy And So Can You is a manifesto of sorts, comprised of catalyzing concepts and conclusions that have driven me as an artist, citizen, and woman. In most cases, a manifesto is written for the author first, and this is no exception. I Am The End Of The Patriarchy And So Can You is an early 21st-century trans feminist statement of purpose, a letter of encouragement for my past self, and a travelogue of how I have arrived where I am today.”


I Am The End Of The Patriarchy And So Can You, 2020
Silk, commercial and homemade inks, and poplar dowels
72 inches x 48 inches each

“Presented across three 4’x’6’ silk scrolls, the text echoes aspects of drop cloths, battle flags, and notebooks, and is intended to evoke self-doubt, erasure, reiteration, and the editorial hand. I Am The End Of The Patriarchy And So Can You was developed for this exhibition as a reanimation of some of my oldest practices — stream-of-consciousness writing on “scrolls” (actually, commercial paper towels) and little mementos mori written for the artists and historical figures who have significantly moved me. These are presented with my newest practice – writing and painting on silk, a fabric of natural strength and transparency.”




Where Do Monuments Go to Die?, 2020
2:45 minutes projection, hemp rope, compost soil

Where Do Monuments Go To Die? is an immersive, interactive, installation space that combines moving image, text, sculpture, and organic materials. In this piece I confronted the noose, the hangman’s knot, as a symbol and a tool of white supremacist anti-Black terrorism in the United States. In my story the rope is a tool, formed into a noose, a slip knot, that can be easily untied. The same way that generations of communities have passed the knowledge of how to tie this complicated knot which is only used for one purpose, we can pass down knowledge of how to dismantle it and all of the white supremacist systems that it stands for. We can refashion this noose back into a rope, a tool of endless possibilities. The video Where Do Monuments Go To Die? demonstrates this process.”


Noose Nap Flag, 2020
Sisal twine, hemp twine, staples, and plywood
48  x 96 inches

“The question motivating the work is, how can we reclaim the psychological space and generational trauma that we have inherited around this object and the history of lynch mob violence in the United States. How can we rewrite the script which flows as follows: 1) Noose is anonymously placed on public display as a threat to a Black person who has claimed space in a place preserved for whiteness; 2) Black person is triggered, outraged, seeks recourse, finds none; 3) Noose is removed from sight, intact, continues to haunt us until it show up again and again and again and again.”





“The soft sculpture Noose Nap Flag offers an opportunity to physically put the newfound knowledge into practice. Noose Nap Flag is made of over 7200 nooses. One for each carceral facility–each prison, jail, detention center, immigration detention center, pscyh jail, youth detention center, etc– in the United States. In dismantling this flag, noose by noose, visitors are offered an embodied experience of what it feels like to process some of that generational trauma, face fear, find a new way, prepare ground to build anew, or tell a new story.”





Left: Romanita & Chanita Maes, 2020
19 x 11 inches

Right: Vera, 2020
19 x 11 inches

“Family history has been a key element throughout my practice. Women of The Same Blood is a body of work where I investigate my own identity, belonging, and concept of home in comparison to other women in my family.”


Lila Dominguez, 2020
19 x 11 inches

“Included are fifteen women descended from my great grandmother through four generations who I have asked a series of questions pertaining to their experience with identity, culture, and heritage.” Full interviews can be found here HERE.


Women of The Same Blood, 2020
Tintypes and printed interviews
All 19 x 11 inches

“I am interested in the varied feelings and experiences from women of the same blood. My goal is to connect the women in my family through the topic of identity, which is not often discussed, in order to preserve the spirit of my ancestors and hold on to what is being lost throughout the passage of time.”






This exhibition was conceived precisely for pushing boundaries and providing a space to openly share perspectives. Intimately linked to the regional artist community, GRACE is committed to the countless voices comprising that community and recognizes the importance of creating and affirming values and practices that encourage care, support, and accountability. The artists and guest curators in this exhibition, with GRACE’s staff and board, together present this very important research and practice.

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