Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents What Makes the Earth Shake featuring works by proliferate, figurative painter Dominic Chambers. This is the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in the Washington, DC metropolitan region.
Dominic Chambers (b. 1993 St. Louis, MO; lives and works in New Haven, CT) creates vibrant paintings that engage art historical models, such as color field theory and gestural abstraction, along with contemporary concerns around race, identity, and the necessity for leisure. Chambers is interested in how art can function as a mode for understanding, recontextualizing, or renegotiating one’s relationship to the world, and views painting as a critical and intellectual endeavor, as much as it is aesthetic.
Chambers draws inspiration from literature with a special focus on the theory of Magical Realism and the writing of W.E.B. Du Bois, particularly Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk, and one of its central themes―the veil. The veil is a product of racial injustice that provides a metaphorical lens through which Black bodies are observed and experienced, and references to the veil appear throughout the artist’s work, often times in large swaths of color that obscure the figures in the Wash Paintings series, or in the recurring use of a raindrop motif as both an active and passive element in Chambers’ work. Many of Chambers’ compositions incorporate fabulist elements, including ghostly silhouettes that serve as stand-ins for the artist and surreal landscapes that feel familiar yet unplaceable.