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VIDEO | In the Studio With Mixed-Media Artist Jessica Beels

Beels's work is on view at BlackRock Center for the Arts. Meet her at a gallery reception Saturday, May 14.

The role of a sculptor, explained artist Jesssica Beels, is to help a material reach its fullest potential.

"Expressing what a material does that nothing else does," said Beels, whose work is on view at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, as part of a three-artist, mixed-media exhibit.

A gallery reception for the exhibit is Saturday, May 14. The exhibit will be on view through Thursday, May 26.

Patch caught up with Beels in her studio Mount Rainier, Md., where she transforms wire and handmade paper into objects that seem like they were made from bone, shell or sun-bleached leather. She talked about what has been informing her aesthetic as an artist.

"I kind of work in two different directions," Beels said, "I'm interested in what the material wants to do."

Beels, 47, has art degrees from Harvard and from Winterthur/University of Delaware. She began her career working museums, as an administrator. She moved to Washington, D.C., in the 1990s to work for Smithsonian. But more and more, she found her self drawn to the creative process and decided to become a full-time artist. Beels shares studio space with three other artists at Flux Studios --- she and studio mates Novie Trump, Laurel Lukaszewski and Maggie Gourlay were collaborators for The Nest Project exhibit at  Torpedo Factory Art Center, in Olde Town Alexandria, Va.

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