Skip to content

Introduction

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents Mother Line, an exhibition of works by photographer, filmmaker, video and performance artist Laurel Nakadate. The exhibition is presented in partnership with George Mason University and is guest curated by Lily Siegel and Don Russell.

Schedule an Appointment

Installation Views

Installation Views Thumbnails
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view

Laurel Nakadate (American, b. 1975) creates work that examines contemporary modes of self-representation and identity formation. Exploring loneliness and relationships amongst strangers, her practice predates, yet foreshadows, the onslaught of social media platforms that pervade our everyday lives, including Instagram and Facebook, freelance marketplaces like fiverr and Upwork, and consumer genetic testing services such as 23andMe. Mother Line presents two series, Relations and The Kingdom, which result directly from the artist embracing such platforms.

After taking an at-home genetic test, Nakadate utilized subscription ancestry databases and social platforms to identify and connect with people who were reported to share her DNA within eight or nine generations. She connected with hundreds of distant relatives in the United States, and she asked to come and take their photograph in whatever manner they chose to present themselves. For each portrait in the Relations series, she met the person near their home, at night, using only a flashlight for illumination. In doing the research for Relations, only three of approximately 1,500 DNA connections appeared from her father’s side of the family. Nakadate’s father is Japanese American, and his family has only been in the United States for around 100 years. In result, what we see represented in this series of portraits is Nakadate’s matrilineal heritage—her matriline or “mother line”.

Laurel Nakadate artwork

Laurel Nakadate, Tyler, Texas #, 2013
Image courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

In the series, The Kingdom, photographs depict Nakadate’s mother and newborn son together. In 2016, the artist gave birth to her son and her mother died shortly thereafter before having the opportunity to hold her grandson. To achieve the final images in this series, Nakadate hired technicians over the internet to merge images of grandmother and child, the only directive to put the baby in the grandmother’s arms. The entire series is being shown together for the first time.

A concurrent exhibition, MOTHER, will be on view at Mason Exhibitions Arlington beginning in March 2022. This is the third iteration of the group exhibition co-organized by Nakadate, which was first shown at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York, in 2018. MOTHER explores the idea of motherhood from a diversity of female perspectives.

Laurel Nakadate artwork

Laurel Nakadate, The Kingdom #10, 2018
Image courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

The Kingdom #9, 2018
Image courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

The Kingdom #9, 2018
Image courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

Biography

Laurel Nakadate was born in Austin, TX and raised in Ames, IA. She currently lives and works in Boston and New York. Nakadate’s work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Princeton University Art Museum, Smith College Museum of Art, LACMA, the Guggenheim Museum, the Saatchi Collection, and other private collections. Nakadate received a BFA from Tufts University and The School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and an MFA in photography from Yale University.

About the Guest Curators

Lily Siegel is the Executive Director of Hamiltonian Artists in Washington, DC. Before joining Hamiltonian, she was Executive Director and Curator at Tephra ICA; and held curatorial positions at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA. She holds a master’s degree in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism from School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in Visual Arts: History and Criticism from UC San Diego, CA.

Don Russell has been an active contemporary art curator and arts administrator since 1979. His research focuses on the exploration and development of new social contexts for art. He is currently the University Curator at George Mason University, responsible for programming exhibitions and public art on the Fairfax, Manassas, and Arlington campuses. Additionally he directs Provisions Research Center for Art & Social Change, providing creative resources for community-engaged public art projects. He is President of Art Resources International and co-founder, with Edgar Endress, of Floating Lab Collective. Don previously served as Executive Director of Washington Project for the Arts and had various leadership roles at Visual Studies Workshop.

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Hereford, Arizona #1, 2012

Hereford, Arizona #1, 2012

West Palm Beach, Florida #1, 2012

West Palm Beach, Florida #1, 2012

Akron, Ohio #1, 2013

Akron, Ohio #1, 2013

Carolina Beach, North Carolina #1, 2013

Carolina Beach, North Carolina #1, 2013

Gainesville, Georgia, #1, 2013

Gainesville, Georgia, #1, 2013

St. Louis, Missouri #1, 2013

St. Louis, Missouri #1, 2013

Tyler, Texas #2, 2013

Tyler, Texas #2, 2013

The Kingdom #20, 2018

The Kingdom #20, 2018

The Kingdom #25, 2018

The Kingdom #25, 2018

Hereford, Arizona #1, 2012

Hereford, Arizona #1, 2012

West Palm Beach, Florida #1, 2012

West Palm Beach, Florida #1, 2012

Akron, Ohio #1, 2013

Akron, Ohio #1, 2013

Carolina Beach, North Carolina #1, 2013

Carolina Beach, North Carolina #1, 2013

Gainesville, Georgia, #1, 2013

Gainesville, Georgia, #1, 2013

St. Louis, Missouri #1, 2013

St. Louis, Missouri #1, 2013

Tyler, Texas #2, 2013

Tyler, Texas #2, 2013

The Kingdom #20, 2018

The Kingdom #20, 2018

The Kingdom #25, 2018

The Kingdom #25, 2018

Videos

Virtual Tour: Laurel Nakadate

Virtual Tour: Laurel Nakadate

Creative Response: Imogen-Blue Hinojosa

Creative Response: Imogen-Blue Hinojosa

Insights: Marina Isgro

Insights: Marina Isgro

Video

Artist Talk: Laurel Nakadate

Back To Top