Art alumnus Tilahun explores human experience in American University exhibit


left to right images from vital signs exhibit far left womb a black bowl with a human figure seen from above folded over from the waist; middle image Etherial 3 a blue glowing light encircles a blue circle with uneven edges and a sponge-like looking texture; far right image entitled school of thought a video still of a space craft opening to the glaxy with an astronaut outside the opening

Adams State University art alumnus Abel Tilahun '10 will open his one-person show, Vital Signs, on January 27 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. He will present a gallery talk followed by an opening reception. Vital Signs will continue through March 11.

Vital Signs explores universal human experience through the manifold meaning we associate with the human body, its parts, its sustenance, and its loftiest ambitions. Vital Signs reflects Tilahun's multidisciplinary practice in sculptural installation, video art, drawing, and painting, linked by consistent semiotic concerns. At the heart of his work are traces of both the cutting edge and the long arc of history. Vital Signs is curated by Meskerem Assegued.

A recurrent theme in Tilahun's work is the connection between the microscopic inner worlds and the macroscopic outer worlds we inhabit. His art considers both the distant realms of an almost forsaken planet in "Solo," and the microscopic realm of the beating heart in "Heart of Gold." With this zooming in and out, however, there is no whiplash. The common thread is the way in which Tilahun's work foregrounds the value of the human experience within widely divergent contexts.

Tilahun received his Master of Art in art from Adams State and his BFA in sculpture from Addis Ababa University's Ale School of Fine Arts and Design. Born and raised in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Tilahun splits his time between his Addis Ababa studio and Washington, DC, where he has taught as an adjunct professor at American University and Marymount University.

Tilahun has shown solo exhibitions Odyssey? (2017) at Alliance Ethio-Francaise (AEF) in Addis Ababa, Interface Effect (2014) at AEF, A Generation Projected (2010) at the Adams State Cloyde Snook Gallery, and Blueprint (2017) at AEF. Tilahun's notable group shows include Curvature of Events, curated by Assegued at the New Master's Gallery of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in Germany (2014-2015), which traveled to the National Museum of Ethiopia in 2015. Tilahun has presented artist lectures at Independent Curators International in NYC, Zoma Contemporary Art Center in Addis Ababa, the National Museum of Ethiopia, AEF, Adams State, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, among others. In 2016 Tilahun was one of ten artists longlisted for the Financial Times OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices award for visual art. Intellectually fresh and moving, Tilahun's work represents an unwavering voice of his generation.