AIRBORNE, open only the weekend of June 21st–23rd, is an immersive art exhibition presenting the works of three artists who have spent the past six weeks in a studio residency in the Merriweather District in Downtown Columbia. Each artist has a unique approach across a variety of mediums addressing cultural questions facing everyone. Featuring a site-specific laser sculpture spanning the length of the 20,000-square-foot studio space, AIRBORNE offers an unparalleled art experience.
Visitors can also see OPUS Merriweather with Enter the Kaledscope: A Glimpse into the Origins of OPUS. Founded in 2017, OPUS is a pioneering art and music festival that transforms Merriweather Post Pavilion and surrounding Symphony Woods into a surreal theatre of discovery, imagination, and wonder.
Featuring a site-specific laser sculpture spanning the length of the 20,000-square-foot studio space, AIRBORNE offers an unparalleled art experience.
Over the past two years, the festival has showcased 70 internationally recognized artists and hosted over 30,000 attendees. In 2018, artist Matthew Schreiber was commissioned to create a monumental 75-foot laser installation in the forest and, this year, for Enter the Kaleidoscope, he is premiering a new laser installation.
About the Merriweather District Artist in Residence program
As a change generator, the Howard Hughes Corporation celebrates the contributions art and culture foster when creating a sense of place. The Merriweather District Artist in Residence (MD AIR) program provides three artists the opportunity to create art that, in turn, influences the district and the community at large. Launched in 2018, MD AIR program awards artists a $10,000 stipend, living arrangements, and a spacious studio in Columbia.
About the 2019 artists:
New York, NY / New Delhi, India
Augmented-reality comic-book creator
Named a “Gender Equality Champion” by the U.N. Women, Ram Devineni is the creator of the first augmented-reality comic-book series, Priya Shakti. The storylines address gender inequality issues worldwide through Priya, the world’s first Indian female superhero. The heroine discovers her superpowers after surviving a gruesome attack and becomes a beacon of hope to survivors of gender inequality violence and those forming identities around global stewardship. With 28 million readers worldwide, Devineni has paved the path for conversation, encouraging a lasting ripple effect for young adults, activists, and those who engage with Priya.
While in residency, Devineni finished the third chapter of Priya and the Lost Girls, which combats issues of gender violence and human trafficking. He collaborated with poets and philosophers to create the script and worked with an illustrator to design the colorful and animated pages. Lastly, Devineni programed the augmented reality himself by creating animations and effects on the different layers.
Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann
Mural and Installation Artist
Katherine is as her work appears: Full of life, pattern, texture, and color, which marry together in her eye-catching pieces. Trained as a sumi ink painter, Katherine’s work offers a fresh lens on traditional Chinese landscape painting through abstract environments. She starts by pouring paint on paper, which flows to create its own unique shape overnight. Returning back to the piece in stages, Katherine then layers in her own texture and abstract imagery to create a visual landscape, representing her identity as a first-generation bi-racial woman, a mother, and a painter.
While in residency, Katherine collaborated with her two trusted assistants: Her 2-year-old daughter and her 4-year-old son. The MD AIR program is a family-friendly residency that recognizes the important role parenting has on an artist. Katherine created two site-specific pieces: an engulfing stain-glass display that bridges the energy of the emerging district as seen through windows and a large-scale wallpaper mosaic inspired by her experience in Columbia.
Sarah Stefana Smith
Mixed Media Installation & Sculpture Artist
Sarah’s “A/MENDS” is a body of work that has been inspired by her recent academic pursuits. Sarah recently completed her Ph.D. in social justice and is a post-doctoral fellow at American University as a critical race, gender, and cultural studies professor. She also teaches studio practice classes. The residency provided Sarah with the time to contemplate how to unite her foundational identity with the dynamic identity that she has fostered as an artist and academic.
“A/MENDS” draws on the etymological differences between concepts such as amend, mend, emend, and amendment, while reflecting on the complexity of transformation, and the shared meaning of altering something, in order to make it better or “right/just.” She uses barrier materials—bird, deer, and various nettings—as a metaphor to the philosophical questions that drive “A/MENDS.” By deconstructing the materials to an unrecognizable form, she then creates new textures or appearances that she builds into something new and dynamic. Using photography, lighting, and projection, Sarah adds an additional dimension to the body of work that ushers it into the era of immersive art and technology.