Helina Metaferia: Refiguring the Canon

Hamiltonian Gallery, Washington, DC, United States
11 Aug 2018 - 15 Sep 2018

Art work by Helina Metaferia. Courtesy the artist and Hamiltonian Gallery

Art work by Helina Metaferia. Courtesy the artist and Hamiltonian Gallery

Hamiltonian Gallery present a new body of work by Helina Metaferia. “Refiguring the Canon” will run until September 15. On Tuesday, August 28 at 7pm Hamiltonian welcomes Helina Metaferia for an artist talk on her work, concept and process that inform “Refiguring the Canon”.

In “Refiguring the Canon,” artist Helina Metaferia creates a hybrid environment where performance art and collage are used to interrogate racism, sexism, and notions of western exceptionalism within art historical narratives and institutional spaces. Metaferia displays documentation from performances at the National Gallery of Art and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, in which she asserts her body using simple gestures in contrast to historic artworks, challenging their conceptual meaning. In other works, Metaferia uses found magazines, including Art News, Art Forum, and Art in America, that were published in the 1980’s (the decade of her birth). Combining the images of artwork featured in the magazines with photographic stills from her recent performances, Metaferia creates an avatar persona that reclaims a space in art history for under-recognized and marginalized women and artists of color. Playing with the 1980’s trending re-interest in “primitivism,” Metaferia uses her Ethiopian-American female body as a way to reclaim that gaze and decolonize the appropriation of black culture. Revisiting Hannah Hoch’s “From An Ethnographic Museum” series from a black woman’s perspective, and addressing the Guerrilla Girls’ timeless questioning of “greatness” in art history, Metaferia examines how these dated issues remain relevant today.


Helina Metaferia (b. 1983, Washington, DC) is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, video, installation and collage. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions at venues including The Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, CA), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), New Museum (New York, NY), Galeria Labirynt (Lublin, Poland), and Museum of Modern Art (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). Metaferia holds an MFA from Tufts University (2015), School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Artist residencies include Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Ox-Bow and Lighthouse Works. Her work has been reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, and Performa Magazine. She was a 2015 – 2017 AICAD Teaching Fellow at the San Francisco Art Institute and is a 2018 – 2019 Visiting Professor/Artist in Residence of Critical Race Theory at Michigan State University.


Hamiltonian Gallery
1353 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009




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