About Mary Higgins

Mary was born and raised in Washington DC and currently resides in Annandale, VA. She has a BFA from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC and an MA in Visual Information Technologies from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Her exploratory approach to art making lends itself to entrepreneurship. She pursues opportunities in technology to broaden the reach of her clients and to create innovative exhibitions on their behalf.

Irreplaceable by Sally Kauffman

2023-05-10T19:16:58+00:00April 4, 2023|

  • Irreplaceable: Paintings by Sally Kauffman
  • Irreplaceable: Paintings by Sally Kauffman
  • Irreplaceable: Paintings by Sally Kauffman - Installation photo credit: Greg Staley
  • Irreplaceable: Paintings by Sally Kauffman
Workhouse Arts Center Announces New Art Exhibition Opening
Irreplaceable: Paintings by Sally Kauffman
Curated by Mary Welch Higgins
March 25 – June 11, 2023
Second Saturday Exhibition Reception, April 8, 2023, 4 – 6 PM

Lorton, VA – ( March 2023) The Workhouse Arts Center announces the opening of the new exhibition, Irreplaceable: Paintings by Sally Kauffman. The exhibition is on view from March 25 through June 11, 2023, in the Workhouse’s McGuireWoods Gallery (W-16). There is a public exhibition reception Saturday, April 8, 2023, 4 – 6 PM.

Irreplaceable is an exhibit of abstract yet allusory paintings by DC area artist, Sally Kauffman. Kauffman works in series and is known for paintings depicting groups of people engaged in communal activities. In her most recent series, she turns her eye to the plight of endangered and extinct species. Her high contrast color palettes and adventurous brushwork are reminiscent of the abstract expressionistic movement of the 20th Century. Yet her goal to increase awareness of the species represented in her work calls to mind Romanticism, a late 18th century artistic and intellectual movement that promoted the power of the creativity and the arts to raise awareness and thus transform circumstance.

By memorializing the energy, diversity and beauty of birds and butterflies in flight, cats, turtles and fish, she honors their place in our ecosystem while drawing attention to their plight. She recognizes that some viewers may simply enjoy the beauty of the paintings and animals represented. There may be others that do not notice the plastic bags and ropes entangling the turtles that are painted to represent just one of the ways that humankind’s actions have impacted the endangered animals. Finally, others may enjoy the paintings and decide to dive deeper to discover that these extraordinary creatures are threatened or already extinct. Kauffman’s paintings remind us that art has the power to raise awareness and create change.

For more information about exhibits at the Workhouse Arts Center or artwork purchase inquiries, contact Audrey Miller audreymiller@workhousearts.org. Follow Workhouse Arts Center on Instagram at @workhousearts, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WorkhouseArts and Twitter at @Workhouse_Arts. The Workhouse Arts Center is open to the public Wednesdays – Saturdays from 11 am to 6 pm, and Sundays from noon to 5 pm. Free public parking is available. A map of campus can be found online here.

Photo Credit: Greg Staley 

The Island Series by Sunhee Kim Jung

2023-05-10T19:17:39+00:00February 28, 2023|

Reception: April 14th, 2023 4PM

Goodwin House – Alexandria from March 2 – April 14, 2023

Location: 4800 Fillmore Ave, Alexandria, VA 22311

Parking: Please park in visitors lot. You will need to sign in to enter the building.

On a recent trip to Seoul for a joint exhibition with Sunhee Kim Jung, I was asked what I most admired  about South Korea.  My answer was the connection between architecture and nature.  The mountains surrounding Seoul, the trees, palaces, temples, traditional as well as contemporary architecture seemed connected – integrated.

After returning, I see Sunhee’s work exploring nature and our relationship to it in a new way.

Her series named The Island painted during the height of the pandemic is inspired by the Transom windows in her home.  (The primary purpose of the transom window is to increase natural light. )

In this series, the viewer peers through the narrow window or “picture frame” to view nature.

Even when we are not in nature, the idea of it can create a sense of peace in the midst of solitude. Sunhee creates a visual poem by using color symbolically to represent different emotions that working together – create a haven for the soul.

I am please to announce that Sunhee’s Island series will be on exhibit at the Goodwin House – Alexandria from March 2 – April 11, 2023.

The Island Series paintings are available through Distinct Studios. Please visit Sunhee’s artist page to view details and to inquire about availability. Thank you for reading!

Transom Window at The National Contemporary Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea
Window, National Contemporary Museum of Art

National Contemporary Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea. Photo Credit: Mary Welch Higgins

Slow Light Series by Chee Keong Kung

2023-02-24T18:54:33+00:00February 23, 2023|

Mclean based artist, Chee Keong Kung was born and raised in Singapore where the rich diversity of the culture continues to influence the development of his art. His process defined by exploration and experimentation has resulted in an evolving body of work.

Within the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, he has developed a reputation as a painter whose works display a vast sense of light-filled space and dynamism through the use of geometry and mark making. This body of work was just the beginning of his development.

His work has pushed beyond the boundary of the canvas as he moves his paintings off the wall into the three dimensional space. He works in series where he  extends an idea through multiple pieces. The Slow Light series  are mixed media assemblages that utilize  spontaneous mark-making on the surface of the wood with metal being added as a mark in 3D space.

Works from the Slow Light series are available through distinctstudios.com on Chee’s DS artist’s page.

Devotional Icon Series by Theresa Martin

2023-11-02T19:11:20+00:00February 22, 2023|

Theresa Martin is an artist based in Arlington, Virginia with the ability to create collages with a poignancy that evokes memory as well as mystery.

Her influences include echoes of Jospeh Cornell, Kurt Schwitters,  and Lenore Tawney. Using “found” portraits, she creates halos from numbers and symbols and thereby transforms the work into a secular devotional icon.

As a graduate of the Corcoran in the mid-80’s, Theresa has honed her creative skills utilizing a wide range of media. Most recently she has been experimenting with open source AI tools into her work.

The collages in the video are available through distinctstudios.com. You can see the collection of  additional available work at her DS Artist’s page.

Thank you for reading!

Video Tour and Website for Joan Dreyer

2023-02-20T23:46:01+00:00February 20, 2023|

Score explores 20 years of the work of Virginia-based mixed media artist, Joan Dreyer. While developing her MFA thesis at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA, Joan began taking tools, techniques and imagery that have been historically considered “women’s work” and transforming them into innovative, contemporary art that is responsive to the tone and tensions of our times. Created by combining fiber techniques with unexpected materials like X-rays, her work is a subtle art that asks questions about life, loss, symbolism, and the impact of war instead of providing one size fits all answers. The artist’s work provides a space for the contemplation of life stages that we all encounter. The result is a body of work that allows for meaningful but also multiple interpretations by the viewer.

Please visit Joan’s website and plan to see the exhibit.

Building Blocks – Agility

2023-03-16T20:29:24+00:00December 15, 2022|

Remember the word “Pivot”  from early 2020? We pivoted to Zoom and online social interactions. Everything changed over night. In March of 2020, I was working with a team to install art exhibits at NOVA, when we were told to leave the building and go home. We left the art on the wall.  Just like that.

As I head into a new year with the Distinct Studios project, I am grateful for my family, friends and clients but I am also certain about my word for 2023 – “Agility”.

I learned Agile Development while building interactive media in the early 2000’s.

The  agile practice is this:

Have an idea? Design it on paper and then prototype.

Test the prototype, make changes and then repeat until the concept is fully formed.

The goal is to “Fail Fast” but also efficiently and at a lower cost. The same iterative principle can be applied to creating art and small agile businesses.

“Fail Fast” is an entrepreneurial term.  “Learn Fast” is my preferred mantra.

After we went into lockdown in 2020, I was constantly making adjustments. Plans were made and then the pandemic changed those plans. Did you ever have the thought in April of 2020 “We’ll open up again in a few months”? I can’t remember how many times I did.

I was “Learning Fast”.

As we shift away from the pandemic, it appears that we are in a new world.  Art will continue to inspire and lift us but the economic environment is  tougher than it’s been in years.

In the coming year, I will continue my agile practice as I test concepts, revise and build.

Thank you for your support this past year.  I look forward to sharing news of upcoming projects and travels in 2023.

Stay Safe and Well over the Holidays!

Theresa Martin 2015, Private Collection

Adjoa J. Burrowes at Virginia Moca

2023-03-16T20:32:16+00:00November 28, 2022|

Adjoa J. Burrowes’s work, “Run Down and Run Over” was selected for the  juried group exhibition “Made In Virginia 2022” at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art where she won second prize for Best in Show. She was also asked to contribute tools and process materials to the museum’s educational Art Lab. Congratulations to Adjoa and to all the participating artists from the state of Virginia!

  • Adjoa J. Burrowes, Run Down and Run Over at Virginia Moca
  • Adjoa J. Burrowes, Run Down and Run Over at Virginia Moca
  • Adjoa J. Burrowes, Run Down and Run Over at Virginia Moca

Installations shots by Echard Wheeler, Courtesy of Virginia Moca 

Long Front of Culture

2022-09-27T18:20:07+00:00September 27, 2022|

My mother, Helen Schrider Higgins earned an MFA from Catholic University in Washington DC in 1955 at the age of 25. She was the first woman to be admitted to the MFA sculpture program at CU. ( She become a student at CU in the late 40’s not long after they admitted women to the school. )

As a child you don’t contextualize your parent.  My memories as a child  of the late 60’s and 70’s was one of being around art, artists and books. In lieu of dolls, I received pastels and sketchbooks as gifts. This was my norm. My context.

In her later years, she and I would – at least once a year – find ourselves having lunch in the  courtyard cafe  of the West Wing at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. While we always talked about art, at these courtyard lunches we starting to go deep into her story and her experience  around the emergent Washington DC art community of the 1950’s.

Our National Gallery conversations gave me a strong foundation when I had the opportunity last year to delve into the time period  of the 1950’s while collaborating with Catholic University on an exhibit of her art work.

In my research, I did a deep dive into Black Mountain College, the Bauhaus artists, Bernand Leach, Shoji Hamada and other influences.

One of the most interesting insights for me came from a book that I found at the Phillips Collections museum shop in a moment of serendipity.

It was “The Free World,  Art and Thought in the Cold War” by Louis Menand, an English Professor at Harvard.

He did extensive research and wrote about culture in the time period that she came of age as an artist.

The insight from Menand was regarding the art critic/art world power broker Clement Greenberg.  Yeah – that guy. 

I was not aware that Greenberg received plenty of what we call today “pushback” during his heyday.

Greenberg constructed a top/down art world structure.  In his peak years, Greenberg championed the abstract expressionists as the pinnacle of art. Later in the 60’s, he was overwhelmed by the popularity of pop art and his power within the art world of his time declined – although his writing maintained a strong hold on academia for decades.

The key point that I learned  from “The Free World” was that the term “The Long Front of Culture” that was coined by the British art critic, Lawrence Alloway.

Alloway argued for the arts to be viewed as part of a continuum. There are multiple genealogies of art – not one.

I am simplifying the argument about what constitutes high art but my point is that there are and have always been many different ways to create.

There are so many more artists now than there were in the 1950’s. The art world is much more diverse.

What moves you? What excites you? What do you want to see everyday?

Bibliography

The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War, Louis Menand, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York,  97803741584158453,

Seeing Slowly

2022-09-07T16:48:38+00:00September 6, 2022|

In the US, Labor Day signals that summer is over!

Announcements for art gatherings, openings and lectures are streaming into my email box and onto my social media feeds.

Before the art season starts again, I’d like to share an experience that jarred me.

It’s about social media.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Instagram. I post about art and artists.

Recently,  I realized the need to slow down and return to the reason that I find art an essential part of my experience.  I was looking at a large “coffee table” size art book of works on paper by the artist,  Do Ho Suh. I stopped myself suddenly because I realized that I was flipping through the pages as if I was randomly scrolling through Instagram. I was scanning not seeing.

After multiple sessions of scanning the book, I had become aware. I slowed down. I began to experience his drawings and prints.  The  work began to reveal itself. It was an intense experience.

How do you look at art – both in person and online? How have social media platforms impacted the way you look and see?

During conversations about social media, I often advocate for social media as “Marketing” with a capital M. That’s it!

Until recently I had not considered its subtle but real impact on the way that I look and see.

For lessons in slowing down, I recommend a valuable book in my art book collection entitled “Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art” by Michael Findlay. You may  know his book “The Value of Art”.  If you are new to the art, I recommend reading “Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art” first before going on to “The Value of Art”.  Both are well written but “Seeing Slowly” is more personal.

Check it out!


Bibliography 

Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art
Michael Findlay
Prestel, 2017
ISBN: 9783791383835

Seeing Slowly - 9 - 6 - 2022

Slow Light IV on Vimeo

2022-07-18T21:54:20+00:00July 18, 2022|

Slow Light IV by Chee Keong Kung 
Wood, Metal Acrylic, color pencil, spray paint
14.5″ x 9″ x 1.5″

Chee’s work explores the tension between geometry and the gestural mark.

His work is in private, corporate, and institutional collections, including The National Museum Art Gallery of Singapore and The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Slow Light IV and others are available through Distinct Studios Fine Art.

You can see additional videos on Distinct Studios Vimeo profile.

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