New group art exhibit in Reston reframes the concept of rest

Tephra ICA’s new exhibit “Between a rock and a hard place” features five regional artists (via Tephra ICA/Deborah R. Grayson)

A new group exhibit organized by Reston’s Tephra Institute of Contemporary Arts is set to open this weekend.

Between a rock and a soft place” aims to reframe the concept of rest as a practice on its own and irrespective of the concept of work, a press release said. An opening reception is slated for tomorrow (Saturday) from 5-7 p.m.

In the exhibit, five regional, contemporary artists — Holly Bass, Adjoa Burrowes, Deborah R. Grayson, Katie O’Keefe, and Britt Sankofa — reflect on the structures that stand between the subject and a life of ease, exploring topics such as who gets rest and when, what is restorative, and how do individuals allow themselves to slow down.

Each artist was asked to response to exhibition prompts that explored what being well-rested looks like from different perspectives.

Here’s what the exhibit’s guest curator, Deirdre Darden, said about the theme and process:

When the pandemic forced me to rest, I realized that it was the essential missing piece of my practice. As independent curators and artists, we’re always thinking of the next deadline while trying to meet the current one. It’s a cyclical life that leaves little time for reprieve. As I worked with Tephra ICA to develop the theme of the [open] call, I settled on the idea of rest. Research led me to understand this idea of creating art around ‘burnout’ wasn’t just a pandemic trend. Many contemporary artists have started to adjust their subject matter to reflect the need to see people, especially black people, disabled people, and more marginalized folks at ease. Domestic scenes, peering out a window, moments of joy, tending a garden. This is the art of the rest revolution.

The exhibit is a product of the institute’s Mary B. Howard Invitational, a biennial program that supports collaborative exhibition-making and “the development and public presentation of innovative new work,” per the exhibit website. It was named after an artist and longtime board member and is funded in part by ArtsFairfax.

The presentation is free and open to all. RSVPs are encouraged in advance online.

The exhibit is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery will be closed on Dec. 13-15, 24, and 31.

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