On view September 10 – November 20, 2022

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents What makes the earth shake, an exhibition of work by prolific figurative painter Dominic Chambers, on view 10 September – 20 November 2022, at Tephra ICA. An in-person opening reception and artist talk will be held on Saturday, September 10, from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

Chambers (b. 1993 St. Louis, MO; lives and works in New Haven, CT) creates vibrant paintings that simultaneously engage historical art models, such as color field theory and gestural abstraction, alongside contemporary concerns about race, identity and the need for leisure. This is the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in the Washington DC metropolitan area. “Dominic Chambers’ practice is vibrant, poetic and imbued with a spirit of restoration,” says Tephra ICA Executive Director and Curator. “We are excited to share his work with the region.”

The exhibition takes its title from James Baldwin’s 1962 work letter to my nephew, where Baldwin describes black life as a reality constructed and sustained by the white imagination. The text refers that, as a result, blacks have had to traverse a terrifying social and psychological landscape in search of freedom, equality, and self-actualization. The Works of Dominic Chambers in What makes the earth shake highlights the surreal conditions that pervade black life. Surrealism manifests itself on the periphery of a seemingly mundane experience, where racial undertones are the shadows of conversation.

“Too often, the black body has been framed in our imaginations as a person unable to rest,” Chambers explains. “Often when we imagine what the black body is doing, it’s usually an act of work, rebellion, or resistance.

The paintings in the exhibition insist on destabilizing the roles of worker, rebel, and insurgent for black people and assert the importance of authorship over one’s reality. Forging images of the unruffled black body into radiant fields of color, Chambers foregrounds the black subject and color field painting as harmonious companions. He proposes crucial contemplative spaces within which his subjects can create and reformulate relationships with their minds, bodies and spirits.

Chambers received a BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and an MFA from Yale University School of Art. His work can be found in a number of private and public collections, including the Miami Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Green Family Foundation, Dallas, TX; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; and the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL. He is represented by Lehmann Maupin in New York, NY and Luce Gallery in Turin, Italy.

What makes the earth shake will include an online viewing room, a streamed virtual tour and a series of public programs. Tephra ICA is located at 12001 Market Street #103, Reston, Virginia and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-5pm.

Opening reception and artist talk

Saturday, September 10
6 pm – 8 pm

The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session. FREE and open to the public. RSVP in advance at [email protected]. This program is generously sponsored by the Reston Community Center.

All images provided by Tephra ICA

Top image: Step into the shadows

About Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA)

Tephra ICA is a non-profit, non-collecting institution committed to promoting contemporary art and innovative thinking. Leading with curiosity and care, the organization is a catalyst, generator and advocate for the visual arts.

Tephra ICA is supported in part by ArtsFairfax, Reston Community Center, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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