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ABOUT dis/figure

The two portrait series on view explore the practice of figuration as a method of revealing (or concealing) personal histories. Often when artists create representational images of underrepresented persons, the discussion of those works extend beyond the aesthetic and into the social and political.  These portraits ask us to consider the responsibilities placed on such images and their creators, and explore how approaches like abstraction attempt to mitigate such an onus.

Jessica Hopkins primarily creates images of herself and her brother in order to question the way in which they are perceived by society. These portraits purposefully straddle representation and abstraction in order to capture experiences that are simultaneously real and surreal.  Included here is her self-portrait series Beneath the Texture which documents her diagnosis with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Jessica juxtaposes pattern and color to symbolize the transformation and healing of her body during the course of her medical treatment. 

For the past twenty years, Mariama McCarthy has painted the women of Niger, Africa, where the artist was born into the Tchin-Tabaraden area’s nomadic Tuareg community.  This series by Mariama explores themes of subjugation, child marriage and loss of autonomy.  She challenges cultural hegemony by making use of a unique iconography that layers patterns, script and symbolic imagery.  The literal and metaphorical masking, silencing, and obscuring of these subjects is a part of Mariama’s process for representing of the struggles of these women.


Jessica Hopkins (b.Washington, DC USA) attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, the University of the District of Columbia and received a Master in Fine Arts from Howard University. Jessica teaches art at the Mary McLeod Bethune Day Academy Public Charter School and resides in resides in Takoma Park, Maryland. Learn More.

Mariama McCarthy (b. Niger, Africa) is a self-taught Tuareg artist, born and raised in the Tchin-Tabaraden area in Niger, West Africa. She moved to the U.S. in 1993. In 2000, she suffered a stroke. When she recovered, she was unable to stop drawing and painting, and has been making art ever since. Mariama is a resident of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Learn More. 

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