Kesha Bruce’s new mixed-media paintings at Morton Fine Art represent a crossroads between poetry and practice


Washington, DC – Morton Fine Art is pleased to announce Take Me to the Water, a solo exhibition of mixed media paintings by artist Kesha Bruce. An intuitive combination of painting, collage and textile art, Bruce’s work represents the culmination of a holistic creative practice developed by the artist over several decades. His eighth exhibition with the gallery, Take Me to the Water, will be presented from September 17 to October 11, 2022 at Morton’s Washington, DC space (52 O St NW #302).

Kesha Bruce Waves Singing for the Moon, 2022 40 x 30 in. Mixed media textile collage on canvas Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Kesha Bruce’s murals are less discrete executions of a concerted vision than the constant accumulation of a long creative process. Referred to by the artist simply as paintings, these mixed-media compositions are actually patchworks of painted fabrics, individually selected from Bruce’s extensive archive and glued directly to canvas in a textile collage that can sometimes resemble a quilt. The result of a slow and perpetual artistic process, each work represents hours of treatment, selection and juxtaposition until the whole becomes manifestly greater than its parts. Bruce’s process ends with the titling of each work: a poetic articulation of what the work is at this point capable of expressing for itself.

Much like water, the routine behind Bruce’s artistic creation is cyclical and in service of greater balance – a stark contrast to many of the iconic works that make up much of the stories of traditional art in recent centuries. and who tend to aggressively focus on breaking up. , madness and unsustainability like the most fruitful mothers of invention. Bruce’s process is markedly different and points to a more promising alternative for artistic creation, in which creativity and lived experience are inseparably linked. For Bruce, this means that art can be not just a form of self-care, but an act of self-discovery. Noting that her color palette has become noticeably warmer since moving to Arizona (where she is currently director of artist programs for the state’s Arts Commission), the artist defines her method as a form strategic opening – making space and taking the time to let the materials guide her to their final form, rather than the other way around.

Kesha Bruce
Kesha Bruce She was Born to Water, 2022 60 x 48 in. Mixed media Textile Collage on canvas Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

The show’s title, Take Me to the Water, alludes to a 1969 rendition of Nina Simone’s traditional gospel song at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bruce finds something transcendent in the recording of Simone’s performance that encapsulates what any form of artistic creation, at its best, can be: a conversation between self and the divine. Skillfully aware of the elemental power of water as a force that follows its own paths and forms its own forms, Bruce closely identifies her artistic process with this element and notes how the resulting transcendental effects can be as overwhelming and rhythmic as the Big Sur ocean waves.

As an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, Bruce has consistently oriented his craft towards capturing and encouraging the process of artistic creation as an end in itself – a way of both creating something new and making focus on yourself. As an administrator who oversees creative programming for the entire state of Arizona, Bruce is intuitively sensitive to the reciprocal relationship between transcendent acts of self-expression and the daily struggle to survive. In this role, she is a mentor and advocate for hundreds of other artists; the example she sets in her own artistic practice, which emphasizes personal growth rather than commercial capitulation, thus becomes a powerful form of political practice.

Kesha Bruce
Kesha Bruce Memory of Matala, 2022 60 x 48 in. Mixed media Textile Collage on canvas Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Kesha Bruce (born in 1975, Iowa). Born and raised in Iowa, Bruce earned a BFA from the University of Iowa before earning an MFA in painting from Hunter College in New York. Bruce has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), the Vermont Studio Center, the CAMAC Foundation, and the Puffin Foundation. Her work is in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture (14 pieces), the Amistad Center for Art and Culture, the University of Iowa Women’s Center, the En Foco Photography Collection and the Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection of the MOMA. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2011.

In addition to her studio practice, Bruce has been responsible for artist programs at the Arizona Arts Commission since 2019. She is also chair of the board of directors of Tessera Art Collective, a nonprofit organization that supports and elevates the work and practices of BIPOC women artists working in abstraction. Bruce is also co-founder of Blac k Girl Basel – the only Miami Art Week event intentionally created for black women artists, creatives, entrepreneurs, activists and cultural changemakers.

Kesha Bruce
Kesha Bruce Gorée Kept Her Secrets, 2022 60 x 48 in. Mixed media Textile Collage on canvas Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artist

Morton’s Fine Arts

Founded in 2010 in Washington DC by curator Amy Morton, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is an art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire new ways to acquire contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that art collecting can be cultivated through an educational stance, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of substantive exhibitions and a platform – welcoming form for dialogue and the exchange of original voices. Morton Fine Art specializes in a stellar roster of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists and also focuses on African Diaspora artwork.

52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001, USA


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