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Color Lab

From March 11 to April, 2020

Exhibit Opening

March 11, 2020


Melanie McClintock


Liz Nielsen, Melanie McClintock and Vanessa Donoso López


The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar


The exhibition was canceled two days before the opening because of the pandemic.

We often see color as having one face. Should we look deeper, separating the layers through solution or suspension, so we can see that each color is composed of a family of colors, changing with exposure to environments, materials and light?

Through an interactive collection of artist works and workshops, Color Lab explores the shifting face of color, inviting the observer to participate in a series of chromatographic journeys through chromatography, cyanotypes, photograms, and pigments of provenance, sourced and apportioned to denote a sense of place.

During the opening of the event, visitors will have an opportunity to participate in color experiments that will result in a final collaborative work with unique take-aways.

The Gallery would like to thank Asma Ul Hosna, Chris Buchakjian, José Luis Suarez and Saga Elkabbash.

Melanie McClintock would like to thank Sally Erickson and Noah Kincade.

Liz Nielsen would like to thank Black Box Projects: Kathleen Fox-Davies, Anna Kirrage and Jim Edwards; and Carolina Wheat.

Special thanks to Maryam Al-Homaid and the Graphic Design Class 491 Exhibition and Environment Design students: Reem Abdou, El Nour, Marwa Al-Kalbani, Zainab Al-Shibani, Shaikhah Al-Marri, Destarte Prieto, Mohamad Raeissi, Ghazal Raqeeb, Aisha Al-Abdulla, Aljowhara Al-Mana, Maryam Al-Muftah, Nurul Azlan, Kainat Malik and Sara Raeissi.

Vanessa Donoso López, 'Untitled experiment', Circles in paper, 2020, ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

Curator statement

Curator Statement by Melanie McClintock

When asked to curate a show on color, many potential paths came to mind, so many that the process was often simultaneously inspiring and overwhelming. I knew I did not want the show to simply be about the surface of color; but instead about the depths of color: its materiality, the way it moves, the way it reacts to light, and ultimately, the special places in which color melds science and art. 

As a result, Color Lab is a collection of moments in which science playfully traverses art in explorative exercises. Through the enigmatic mediums of water, light, and dust, three artists have created chromatic responses to significant questions: the meaning of life, our place in the universe, our relationship to places, and feeling connected. 

Vanessa Donoso Lopez’s color experiments in chromatography speak to a sense of languid time, with solutions slowly moving through phases until all colors have been completely exposed. Her concept was suspenseful to curate, as her final works do not exist until they grow within the space.

Liz Nielsen has a unique process of manipulating gels on chromogenic paper to create incandescent photograms, in which she uses the light as a brush to expose her sublime shape language, overlapping a perfect balance of warmth and coolness to define deep connections to landscapes, both emotional and physical.

For my own work, I have extracted several dozen pigments from my surroundings, travels and the gifts of others, grinding them to dust
and mixing with binders to create unique palettes within a perfect circle. Whether represented singularly, married to another, or united in community, each series evokes a personal, emotional landscape. To complete the experience, I designed an interactive installation in which the public can participate to create their own signature color story.

The artists in Color Lab all share the same curiosity of color created from the effects of exposure and time. Each scenario has been carefully orchestrated to produce material outcomes with an air of mystery, in which colors meld to form spectral connections known to
a singular moment. The collaborative installation is an opportunity to participate in the creation of a singular palette to be added to the whole: a color palette expressing the collective time shared in this space.

Color Lab is interested in all the phases of the experimental process.
In response, we have created an environment where you will find that some works have been resolved, some are evolving, and others are inviting you to interact.

Color Lab curator Melanie McClintock at VCUart Qatar gallery
Melanie McClintock, 'Point of Origin', Pigments, 2020, ©Raviv Cohen, VCUarts Qatar

Through the enigmatic mediums of water, light, and dust, three artists have created chromatic responses to significant questions: the meaning of life, our place in the universe, our relationship to places, and feeling connected.

Liz Nielsen's photogram "Cool Mountain Path" presented at The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar
Liz Nielsen, "Cool Mountain Path", Analogue Chromogenic Photogram on Fujiflex, Unique, 2018, ©Liz Nielsen, Black Box Projects
Liz Nielsen's photogram "Cocktail Portal" presented at The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar
Liz Nielsen, 'Cocktail Portal', Analogue Chromogenic Photogram on Fujifle, 2018, ©Liz Nielsen, Black Box Projects


Liz Nielsen in Doha


Liz Nielsen lives and works in New York City. She graduated with a BA in Philosophy and Spanish from Seattle University, an MFA in Photography at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Nielsen is part of a new generation that has returned to the essential elements of analog photography and its processes as subject matter, reimagining the abstract and painterly potential of the medium. Nielsen’s work is a contemporary application of one of the best-known avant-garde photographic processes – the photogram – which was first mastered by Man Ray and Maholy-Nagy at the beginning of the 20th century.

Each unique image is created without a camera by placing objects directly onto photographic paper and exposing them to light. Nielsen started her career as a painter and is a colorist at heart. She calls her work “painting with light“ which refers to the performative nature of its creation. Nielsen replaces the traditional negative with a handmade matrix, built with multiple layers, found light sources, and harnessing different wavelengths of the color spectrum to create rich hues. Creating these pieces can take up to 12 hours per session and up to 100 exposures. The paper she uses is negative rather than positive, reversing the colors, and often creating surprising new combinations.

“The final outcomes are pre-planned with strong intention and formally composed,“ she explains, “but because I’m working with light, they always have some surprises. The light bleeds and spills and doesn’t want to be contained”.

Her work has been exhibited extensively in New York, Chicago, Berlin, Dublin, Budapest, Paris, and London. Nielsen’s work was part of the JPMorgan Curator’s Highlights – Pictures-In-Play at Paris Photo Fair 2016. Nielsen’s exhibitions have also been recently reviewed in The New York Times, the New Yorker, Artslant, the Wall Street Journal and Libération, among others.

Liz Nielsen has worked in the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection as well as notable private collections internationally.

VanessaDonosoLopez at the Color Lab exhibition at VCUarts Qatar


Vanessa Donoso López lives and works between Dublin and Barcelona. She studied at the School of Arts and Design Llotja, Barcelona; the University of Barcelona; and Winchester College of Art in the UK.

She has exhibited nationally and internationally with recently selected solo exhibitions including I shall change the way things are ordered, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin; No fixed color Continuum, Candyland, Stockholm; To swallow a ball, The LAB, Dublin; Eye before E except after seeING, Stockholm Supermarket Independent Art Fair, with the Ormston House, Stockholm; Eye before E except after see, Limerick City Gallery, Limerick; Daily disagreements over small things, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery at the Barcelona Contemporary art fair SWAB, Barcelona; A painful excess of pleasure, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin; Jouissanc’e, Madame la Marquise, Barcelona; it never rains to everybody’s taste, Queen St. Studios and Gallery, Belfast; the rain in Spain falls mainly off the plane, Barcelona; Scientifico-experimental techno-color-movement, M’ATUVU Project Space, Brussels; and Establishing a Mission at the Ashford Gallery, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.

Group shows include Death Drive, Galway Arts Centre; I want to be your dog, The Glue Factory, Glasgow; 40/40/40, Madrid, Rome, Warsaw and Dublin; and Precaution at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

Donoso López recently completed three public works commissioned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, Facebook HeadQuarters in Europe, and the main offices of IDA Ireland, all in Dublin.

She recently finished a three-month awarded full grant art residency at Can Serrat, Barcelona. She is currently working as an invited artist on a project with the Black Church print studios in Dublin and she is also under a full grant three-month residency in Centre d’art La Rectoría in Barcelona.

Vanessa Donoso López is represented by Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin.

Curator Melanie McClintock in Doha


Melanie McClintock is an artist, designer, and educator inspired by the mysteries of color. Her concepts explore the ideas of time, worthiness, and sense of place.

She received an MFA in Color and Materials Design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan; and a BFA in Fashion Design from VCU, Richmond.

While running the Brooklyn-based boutique and gallery, Ai-Ai Gasa (2006-08), she curated bi-monthly shows for local artists including Alex Soto, Bailey Saliwanchik, and Eun-ha Paek.

In 2012, she spearheaded a social art program in Indonesia where she curated six exhibitions of student work in galleries throughout Java over two years. A few years later, she curated a show at The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar for Indonesian graffiti artists Ismu Ismoyo and Tri ‘Vendi’ Effendi, titled Issue Isme.

Public Programming

March 11, 2020 ― 6 to 8 PM

Opening reception with the artists and curator

March 12, 2020 ― 12:30 to 1:30 PM

Qatar Foundation Art Trail: Guided Tour with the artists and curator


Curator Melanie McClintock at the Color Lab exhibition

Artist Vanessa Donoso-López at the Color Lab exhibition

Fujifilm and Unseen present: Liz Nielsen
©Fujifilm, Unseen

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