Kim Llerena’s photography at Inside Outside, Upside Down
Kim Llerena, "Stonewall Jackson (dismantled), Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia"

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Inside Outside, Upside Down

Many of us would rather forget the last year and a half, but the Phillips Collection’s juried invitational, Inside Outside, Upside Down, forces us to remember a time that left us “confused, battered, and disoriented” through the eyes of 64 D.C.-area artists. The exhibit reflects the wide-ranging visual interests of its most prominent juror, the local artist Renée Stout. Some artists portray the year’s turbulence literally: David Mordini’s video selfie where the artist struggles to breathe through a translucent plastic mask; Sora DeVore’s intimate photograph of a makeshift, socially distanced family gathering in a garage; Kim Llerena’s photo of an empty, vandalized pedestal in Richmond where a statue of Stonewall Jackson once stood; and Cathy Abramson’s oil on canvas of a sidewalk featuring a table of to-go bags. Other contributors take a more metaphorical approach, such as Junko Pinkowski’s 3×3 matrix of small, vaguely disorienting images, and the sculptures by Jean Jinho Kim and Kirsty Little that play with the idea of vertical shapes that stand at once together and apart. Several works stand out: Tae Edell’s military-style “challenge coin” commemorating the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville; Kristina Penhoet’s large assemblage of “visceral” forms that suggest braided hair, bowels, or worms; Florencio Campello’s clever combination of low and high tech, pairing a simple charcoal drawing of a child looking at her reflection, which is shown as a revolving series of electronic images of diverse faces; Tim Tate’s homage to the plague during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian, embodied through a gray “mirror” filled with pained faces, suggesting Auguste Rodin’s “The Gates of Hell” sculpture; and Nekisha Durrett’s eulogy for a pair of Black women killed by police, memorialized through perforated magnolia leaves, which, the artist notes, are so tough that even the dead leaves refuse “to be erased and forgotten.” The exhibit runs through Sept. 12 at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St., NW. $10-16.