The nation’s capital is influencing the global art market with the inclusion of Melissa Joseph in a group exhibition at Charles Moffett in New York this summer. An educator for six years in D.C., teaching both in DCPS and at Georgetown Prep, Joseph has infused her work with a narrative that is deeply connected to her time spent living and teaching in the District.

Joseph’s narrative, steeped in her experiences as a person of color, in a rural Pennsylvanian household, then significantly shaped by her urban D.C. years, forms an integral part of the “Kinship” theme in the exhibition. Her compositions, borne out of textiles and other craft materials, invite viewers into her personal realm, depicting her rural upbringing, extended family abroad, and her diasporic life.

Curated by José Chavez Verduzco, the exhibition titled “Genius Loci” probes into the spirit of place, showcasing the artistry of 18 diverse artists. Chavez first crossed paths with Joseph’s unique work at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery’s “Wonder Women” show, where her unconventional painting “Smells like Pre-Teen Spirit” crafted from felted wool, caught his eye. Struck by her alchemical process of turning wool into narrative, Chavez became an instant fan.

A chance meeting with Chavez at a reception dinner further solidified his admiration for her work. As Chavez recalled, the opportunity to understand her artistic practice and observe her process of using fibers as pigments was transformative. The respect and tenderness she infused in her felt works while translating archival photographs was a distinctive perspective he wished to showcase in “Genius Loci.”

Given Joseph’s proliferative artistry over the past year and her boundary-pushing approach to painting, Chavez felt privileged to include her in the exhibition. Even as she readies herself for a solo presentation with REGULARNORMAL and group shows at James Fuentes, Galleria Poggiali, and the British Textile Biennial, her District-infused work continues to resonate with audiences globally.

Visit “Genius Loci,” which opened on July 5, to experience Joseph’s moving lens that has captured the essence of her personal journey from D.C. to the heart of New York City.

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