TO MAY 29

Houston-based artist Kimberly Gremillion once told Aperture magazine that she began photographing the circus because it is poised between “darkness and light, sleeping and waking, the unconscious and the conscious.” That’s also not a bad description of her work, which consists of moody, grainy, black-and-white images of circus performers—or, more often, of the shadows they cast under bright and frequently overlapping spotlights. (Shadow # 64 is pictured.) Clownophobes take heart: Rarely do they show a face. More commonly, Gremillion captures intriguingly sinuous forms, such as the acrobats and tightrope walkers whose poses variously approximate web-walking spiders, upside-down bats, and wheel-treading gerbils. Not surprisingly, a few of Gremillion’s works verge on surrealism, such as Horse #18, which features a seemingly naked man plunging forward from the rear of a feather-clad mare. But Gremillion’s most striking imagery is also her most fragile: a woman wearing a frilly, Mexican-style dress that makes her resemble a jellyfish, a man hanging tightly from a diaphanous white sheet that suggests a surfboard slicing through the sky, and a clown figure so gossamer that it looks like a brass rubbing. The 22-piece exhibition closes with four works from another Gremillion series, about ballroom dancing—photographs that document pockets of the fast-moving floor action as the room spins. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, May 29, at the Ralls

Collection, 1516 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 342-1754. (Louis Jacobson).