“BREATHING ROOM: JOURNEYS OF SELF-EXPLORATION” (OCTOBER 7, 2023) unites the evocative artistic work of established DC and Maryland artists - Wesley Clark, BUCK!, and Lance Claiborne Wiggs. This unique exhibition brings together three longtime friends who, for the first time in each of their artistic careers, converge together for one shared immersive journey of artistic self-discovery. Morton Contemporary Gallery is honored and thrilled to share this collective journey with you all! 


    Breathing Room describes my efforts to create a space for myself and my thoughts; to pull away from the consideration of others — the Audience, given voice by the inner critic — and allow for a purely self-guided exploration of my own interests, primarily that of “mark making”. The mark making - being utilized as my primary tools, come in the form of hash marks in staccato bursts, contour lines, graffiti tags, and then the potential erasure of each of these marks (literally, using an eraser). These marks constitute the primary ingredients of the graphite drawings. 

    My woodwork utilizes layered spray paint and latex over textured and/or carved wood surfaces that are heated, burned, scratched and gouged to expose what’s hidden beneath. I create problems to solve through the building of layers with words often acting as the initial point of departure toward an abstracted response. The words are chosen based on a need to find their relevance, power, or connection to me. They are pondered, prodded, and poked through the course of making any one piece. 

    These works are mapless journeys toward truer expression and understanding of my interior. They are a series of journals, recording each step, each decision made -– paint, graphite, erasure, or peel. Seeing. Processing. Reacting. Repeat. The Art lies with each choice made. The results are artifacts of the moment (or moments). They are records that string together a loose narrative woven when reading the marks and the residue of conversations/arguments; personal revelations that change direction; moving toward the call of challenge — the call to find / do / make something new. They are moments of loud, physically active meditations with sermons; Trap and Go-Go [upbeat, percussive-based music local to D.C.] influencing the energies behind each.   The breathing room I’m in search for is found within these disconnected moments of meditation.”     WESLEY CLARK


    “My (BUCK!’s) Breathing Room is one of three perspectives speaking to the creation of space to process, feel and collect the Self. My paintings in this exhibition utilize a distinct palette pushing shades of gray, vibrant blues and blacks to create a dystopian mood that is in contrast to the words, messages and symbols woven together on each canvas -  words that speak to our thriving humanity. For me (BUCK!) the color and text are a bridge to dialoguing about belief systems, ideologies, and creating that space where the viewer, the artist and thought can all find common ground. The text, colors, and figures (visible and hidden) speak to the universality of our human experience. They speak to the work providing room for the individual or the group to sit, consider, digest, ponder, love or even just get lost. In my painting “In the End is My Beginning or Are We There Yet?” the audience is confronted with humanity defiant in its despair.  The piece takes structural and dialogue cues from Théodore Géricault’s “The Raft of the Medusa”. The work questions institutional breakdowns, colonialism, race, humanity, and survival at all cost while contrasted with messages of resilience to build a canvas that one has to return to over and over because the conversation is ongoing. The ‘breathing room’ I hope to create dialogue around is always our common humanity - how important it is to recognize and empathize with this consciousness; how great it is to recognize the universality; how terribly beautiful is this experiment.

    In working with Lance and Wes, I find myself sitting as the elder statesmen (lol). I’ve known these guys for 15 years at this point and see them as family/brothers/friends.  I can honestly say that the theme is apropos. I’ve had the opportunity to converse freely with both regarding my theories, gripes, misunderstandings, and love for humanity in a space that provides feedback, push back and breathing room for me and thought.”  BUCK!


    Breathing Room is where I’m able to reveal my truest self. It represents an opportunity to experience growth. Under the compounding weight of life, family, love, and pain, personal space, expression and peace of mind can be lost. Breathing Room is a visual “pushing back”. The pieces created and selected uniquely speak to the theme of release and uninhibited thought. From vibrant color palettes to intense wording and images, the viewer can experience the varied nature of thoughts and emotions permeating from the work. The work here is an expression of me “letting go” on some level. The energy chooses the medium - I'm just a conduit in that phase of it all. Breathing room provides that same thing for me - a release point. Some of the frames are repurposed wood from my home - parts of my past and old framework that had to be done  away with. The wooden pieces used were chosen purposefully, and now able to assist in my healing.

    Collectively, my pieces create a visual timeline. Each telling a different story from the same journey - loss, gain, isolation, the beauty that can be found in it all (just a few emotions picked from a wide range to be experienced). We are all forced to work with what we have, and “Breathing Room” looks and feels different for us all. The work presented here is a result of my own breathing room and what was revealed to me in the process, and what I realized about myself.”   LANCE WIGGS