McLean Project for the Arts Ponders Space with New Exhibitions

The McLean Project for the Arts is unveiling its two latest exhibitions today (Wednesday) with a virtual launch and artists’ talk at 7 p.m.

The Emerson Gallery will feature “Vertical Interval,” a collection of paintings and digital works by McLean-based artist Joseph Cortina. The exhibit draws on Cortina’s background as a painter and filmmaker to explore “the fleeting, elusive quality of time-based media,” MPA says.

“Vertical Interval” has been paired with multimedia artist Shanthi Chandrasekar’s exhibition “Beginningless Endless,” which will be displayed in MPA’s atrium gallery.

According to MPA, Chandrasekar has a background in physics and psychology and employs drawing, painting, and sculpture to explore “big questions of science and the natural world” in “Beginningless Endless.”

MPA Curator and Director of Exhibitions Nancy Sausser says Cortina and Chandrasekar had been on her radar for some time.

She also likes using the nonprofit’s two galleries to showcase exhibits that reflect on each other in some way. Both artists have an abstract element to their work, and these specific exhibits are focused in different ways on the idea of space.

“Shanti’s very interested…in sort of the cosmos and physics and, you know, that greater cosmic space,” Sausser said. “Joe is really interested in the space within the painting, and he has a lot of open area within his paintings that’s undefined and sort of becomes a place you can enter into.”

MPA will display both exhibitions online and in its physical galleries at the McLean Community Center, though the Emerson Gallery is largely closed to the public for the time being.

For its fall show, MPA allowed up to six visitors in the Emerson Gallery by appointment, but climbing COVID-19 case numbers in the region convinced staff members to change their approach for the new exhibition.

Sausser says people can contact MPA if they are interested in arranging a private viewing of “Vertical Interval,” but the nonprofit is mostly approaching it as a virtual show.

Images from both exhibitions will be available online tonight at the same time as the virtual launch, which will include prerecorded interviews of the artists by Sausser. Chandrasekar and Cortina will also appear live from their studios to answer questions from the public.

While navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, Sausser says it has also opened new opportunities as MPA staff had to develop there digital and video skills. She hopes to continue offering virtual options even after both galleries resume normal operations.

“It’s definitely more work, and people aren’t experiencing [the work] the same way, but maybe the audience who gets to experience it is a little larger,” Sausser said.

Photos courtesy McLean Project for the Arts

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