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Laurel Nakadate: Mother Line

Laurel Nakadate, Laurel Nakadate, Tyler, Texas #1 (2013) Image courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents Mother Line, an exhibition of works by photographer, filmmaker, video and performance artist Laurel Nakadate. The exhibition is presented in partnership with George Mason University and is guest curated by Lily Siegel and Don Russell. A virtual opening reception and artist talk will be held on Monday, January 24.

Laurel Nakadate (American, b. 1975) creates work that examines contemporary modes of self-representation and identity formation. Exploring loneliness and relationships amongst strangers, her practice predates, yet foreshadows, the onslaught of social media platforms that pervade our everyday lives. The exhibitions on view will highlight the artist’s most recent bodies of work that investigate her personal family history, love, and loss, through a matriarchal framing.

Tephra ICA will present a selection of photographs from the Relations series, begun in 2013. In Relations, Nakadate travelled across the country photographing familial “matches” that she discovered through a commercial DNA testing service. The series features direct relatives of her mother where each photograph was taken at night with a single light source at a location of their choice. Nakadate reflects, “I realized at a certain point it wasn’t just about the people, but it was about these landscapes. It was about standing in these landscapes at night. And it was about the sort of ways that I could still be surprised by photography.”

Her mother died shortly thereafter before having the opportunity to hold Nakadate’s newborn son. In The Kingdom series, Nakadate depicts grandmother and grandchild together through the merging of photographs of the infant with photographs spanning the grandmother’s life. To accomplish this final image, Nakadate hired technicians over the internet to photo edit her son into the arms of mother. The entire series will be shown together for the first time at Tephra ICA.

A concurrent exhibition, MOTHER, will be on view at Mason Exhibitions Arlington beginning in March 2022. This is the third iteration of the group exhibition co-organized by Nakadate, which was first shown at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks+Projects, New York, in 2018. MOTHER explores the idea of motherhood from a diversity of female perspectives.

Laurel Nakadate was born in Austin, TX and raised in Ames, IA. She currently lives and works in Boston and New York. Nakadate’s work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Princeton University Art Museum, Smith College Museum of Art, LACMA, the Guggenheim Museum, the Saatchi Collection, and other private collections. Nakadate received a BFA from Tufts University and The School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and an MFA in photography from Yale University.

Mother Line will include an online viewing room, a video-walkthrough, and a series of public programs. Tephra ICA is open Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm by appointment only. Appointments are free and can be made at tephraica.org.

Virtual Opening Reception and Artist Talk: Monday, January 24, 6pm. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A. FREE and open to the public. RSVP in advance at info [at] tephraica.org for Zoom Room link and password. Sponsored by Reston Community Center.

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