Inversion/Submersion by Billy Friebele

Billy Friebele is an artist working in the Washington, DC region. He has exhibited at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Art Museum of the Americas, the Katzen Center for the Arts, and the Kreeger Museum among other venues nationally and internationally. Billy was a Hamiltonian Artist fellow and one of the first makers-in-residence at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Central to his research and teaching are a concern for the tension between our mediated digital experience and the materiality of the environment. He earned a BA in Philosophy from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Billy Friebele is an Associate Professor of Art at Loyola University Maryland. 

Billy is an interdisciplinary artist. Materially, his work spans sculpture, video, drawing, and digital art. Through research and creative production, he explore the space between humans, technology, and the natural world. The artworks Billy creates are instruments in the broadest sense of the word. They are tools for observing our surroundings in new ways, recording devices that capture ephemeral movements. They are not utilitarian, but they do produce a type of visual poetry, using time-based rhythms to engage the viewer in a contemplative space that can also be absurd or humorous.

Billy creates projects that respond to natural forces. Yielding control of the outcome of these works decenter humans as the central focus and encourages observation of natural processes. These tactics address environmental threats and encourage viewers to consider the ramifications of our actions within the larger ecosystem – outside of the narrow confines of oneself.

Artist Statement for Inversion/ Submersion

Over the course of my artist residency at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW), I will explore the Anacostia River from shallow waters near my home in Riverdale Park, MD to deeper areas near Capitol Hill. Using two floating video cameras, I will capture footage above and below the water surface simultaneously while floating downstream. I will edit and display these videos in the gallery and create a series of physical artworks based on what I encounter on this journey. The video will act as a catalyst to spark the creative process. The gallery space will be transformed into an evolving installation, or an open laboratory, documenting life on the Anacostia River with input from the community. The central question I want to ask is, what can we learn from the non-human creatures that we co-habitat with? As this installation unfolds over time, parallels between scientific and artistic engagement with our natural habitat will emerge. Through this artist residency I hope to foster a communal exploration of the connections between humans and the natural world in our local watershed. – Billy Friebele