Manuela Mourão: Selections from “Whitewash” and “Erosion”

Sandler Center Gallery Hosts Thought-Provoking New Exhibition

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Portuguese native Manuel Mourão is the latest artist to be featured at the Sandler Center Art Gallery. Her exhibition comprises selections from two complementary group of works -- “Whitewash” and “Erosion” -- and can be viewed on the second- and third-floor lobbies of the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts from June 20 to Aug. 29.  Mourão, a mixed-media artist who has shown locally in both solo and group exhibitions, is also the associate chair of the English Department at Old Dominion University, where she teaches courses on British literature, world novels, women writers and literary theory.

Mourão has lived in the United States for 24 years, relocating after she received her undergraduate degree in modern languages and literatures from the University of Porto in Portugal. She came to the United States to begin her graduate studies. She holds a master’s degree in English from Eastern Illinois University and a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.


Mourão’s work has been featured at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, the Seldon Gallery, the Vienna Kunsthalle, the Charles H. T. Center and the Lorrie Saunders Art Gallery.


“When I began painting, the scope of my work expanded to explore the intersection of art, scholarship and personal experience,” Mourão said.


“Whitewash” examines the notion of race, expansion and national identity during 16th century Portuguese maritime expansion. The enormous canvases are first covered with a 16th century map documenting Portuguese presence at the time and are then painted over with eroding layers of varying shades of white. This serves to highlight the concept of whiteness as it relates to the Portuguese national identity. Patches of green surround the canvas to draw attention to the notion of a seaborne empire central to the 16th century concept of nationhood in Portugal.


Complementary to “Whitewash” are selections from “Erosion,” which examines the process and beauty of decay in both urban and natural landscapes.


Manuela Mourão: Selections from “Whitewash” and “Erosion” will be on during the Sandler Center’s normal operating hours: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or during any performance at the Sandler Center.


About the City of Virginia Beach’s Office of Cultural Affairs:  The role of the Office of Cultural Affairs is to develop the vision and direction of the cultural arts in Virginia Beach, assist and direct the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission, coordinate the City’s Public Art Program, provide contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, provide administrative leadership to the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts’ 501(c)3 Foundation and serve as staff liaison to local arts and humanities organizations.


For more information on the gallery, visit