Blessed and Highly Favored

Marinaro Gallery is pleased to present Blessed and Highly Favored, Patrice Renee Washington’s second solo exhibition with the gallery.

In this new body of work, Washington takes cues from black science fiction authors Octavia E. Butler and N.K. Jemisin, exploring the connection between a transient sense of self and the physical landscape in which it exists. Within these sculptures and paintings, the artist considers the touchstone inquiries of the genre: how do we decipher worlds that we barely know, and what do we make of the artifacts that are left behind?

The monolithic sculptures in the exhibition, rendered in Washington’s signature ceramic, continue the artist’s examination of black hair in relation to vulnerability, protection, and survival. Meticulously carved cornrow designs, bantu knots, and thick braids appear frequently throughout the work, covering the heavily glazed and polished sculptural surfaces. The modular forms draw inspiration from funerary urns and Nkisi Nkondi power figures, flirting heavily with ideas of loss and spirituality. The titles of the sculptures take after different precious stones, connecting braiding techniques with the sanctity of the natural world.  

In the tiled delftware-inspired paintings, Washington reworks the traditional historic narrative of the medium by illustrating scenes of domesticity that centralize the experience of black characters. Activities like cooking, taking out the trash, and birdwatching are all depicted, laden with symbols that speak to a deeper and more nuanced history. Washington repeatedly uses the symbol of the watermelon— a way to simultaneously display power and vulnerability in the context of her subjects’ greater narrative.

Patrice Renee Washington (b. 1987, Chicago, IL) earned her BFA from Metropolitan State University, Denver, CO and her MFA from Columbia University, NY. She has shown in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, including solo exhibitions at Marinaro (2019), Underdonk Gallery (2018) and a 2018 solo museum exhibition at The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver, CO. In 2020, Washington was included in Barring Freedom at the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA. Additional group exhibitions include Reyes Finn, Detroit, MI; Jenkins Johnson Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; We Buy Gold, Brooklyn, NY; Sculpture Center, Queens, NY; Abrons Art Center, New York, NY; 47 Canal, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Brooklyn, NY; and the LeRoy Neiman Gallery, New York, NY.