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Zoë Charlton

Watch an interview with curators Trisha Kyner and Osvaldo Mesa about the art of Zoë Charlton. 


Using the nude body as metaphor, I explore the ironies of contemporary social and racial politics. I draw my subjects as isolated figures on a white ground. Their relationship with the world is signified by the colorful adornments they wear and the culturally loaded objects they embrace—among them: white hoods, suburban housing and sports gear. Whether collaged into a defined context or left to pose awkwardly against a blank backdrop, these characters embody ripe cultural dilemmas. The work evaluates prejudice based on appearances by literally undressing it; the particulars of cultural histories are writ large in these naked bodies.


Zoë Charlton (Baltimore, MD) creates drawings that explore the ironies of contemporary social and cultural generalities.  She depicts her subject’s relationship with their world by combining images of culturally loaded objects and landscapes with undressed bodies. She received her MFA degree from the University of Texas at Austin and participated in residencies at Artpace Residency (TX), McColl Center for Art + Innovation (NC), the Skowhegan School of Painting (ME), and the Patterson Residency at the Creative Alliance (MD). Her work has been included in national and international exhibitions including The Delaware Contemporary (DE), the Harvey B. Gantt Center (NC), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (AR), Studio Museum of Harlem (NY), Contemporary Art Museum (TX), the Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Poland), and Haas & Fischer Gallery (Switzerland).  She is a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner grant (2012), a Rubys grant (2014), and was a finalist for the 2015 Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize. Public collections include Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (AR), Birmingham Museum of Art (AL), Studio Museum in Harlem (NY), and the Phillips Collection (DC). Charlton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at American University in Washington, DC. She holds a seat on the Maryland State Arts Council and a co-founder of ‘sindikit, a collaborative art initiative, with her colleague Tim Doud. They created the ‘sindikit project to engage their research interests in gender, sexuality, and race. It is a platform that allows them and invited ‘sindikit artists to respond immediately to what is happening in their respective studios and in the world through hosted artist projects, moderated artist conversations and concept driven dinner discussions, and curated exhibitions.

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