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In meeting with artists while selecting exhibitions for the gallery, DCAC’s Visual Arts Committee found that many artists were working in a vacuum. The camaraderie, friendly criticism, and community they experienced in art school were no longer available. We decided to try to create a structure in which artists could work as a collective and perhaps regain, or even experience for the first time, a support network that would stimulate their work and give them access to artists of like minds.

In 2007, Sparkplug was launched as DCAC’s artists collective.

Every two years, participants are sought from all communities in the Washington, DC area to bring together artists from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences in order to foster their development as individuals and as a group. About 10 members participate for 2 years, meeting on a monthly basis to critique each other’s work, discuss exhibitions around the area, and visit each other’s studios. Through this process they try to find common ground and further their practice.

DC Arts Center offers members of Sparkplug a place to meet, helps to organize studio visits, provides opportunities to hone presentation skills, and make connections with arts professionals such as curators, collectors, and established artists. In addition, DCAC organizes two curated Sparkplug exhibitions: one each year.

Applications are now open for the 2018-2019 Sparkplug!

Deadline: October 15, 2018



Héctor Cataño, Eric Celarier, Alexis Gomez, Sarah Jamison, Ashley Ja’nae, Zofie Lang, Kelly Posey, Katie Pumphrey, Renée Regan, Julie Wills

View Current Member Bios


Héctor Cataño is an artist and art professor from Bogotá Colombia currently working in Washington DC. He received his BFA from the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University of Bogotá in 2003. In 2009 he moved to Valencia, Spain, to earn a master’s degree in art production from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, and in 2014 he received a second master’s degree in art, creation, and investigation from Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain.


Eric Celarier was born, lives, and works in the Washington, DC, area. Receiving his BA from the University of Maryland in 1991 and his MA in fine arts from the University of Cincinnati in 1997, he has developed the theme of biological evolution associated with human impact. His most recent activity includes a solo show “Trash” at VisArts curated by Susan Main (2016); a solo show at “NIH’s Clinical Center” curated by Lillian Fitgerald (2015); a group show, “Co-Exist,” with Albert Schweitzer and Glenn Richardson at the Otis Street Arts Project curated by Molly Ruppert (2015); the (2015) fundraiser for “WPA at Hickok Cole” where he received four votes for best in show and had a work purchased by Hickok Cole for their collection; a group show, “Recompose,” with Elizabeth Burger, William Peirce, and Karen Schulz, at the BlackRock Center for the Arts (2015); a solo show, “Garbage,” at Mount Saint Mary’s curated by Elizabeth Holtry (2014); a group show, “Electronic Aesthetics,” with Glen Kessler, curated by Judith Heartsong (2014); and a solo show, “Wasteland,” at McLean Project for the Arts (2014).


Alexis Gomez is an interdisciplinary artist living in Virginia and working in DC. He received his BFA from the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at the George Washington University. Gomez’s work investigates the internal and external spaces we inhabit as human beings. Using illusionistic patterns and figural forms to represent both literal and metaphorical space, he creates settings that induce an inner and outer body experience.


Sarah Jamison is a fine artist concentrating primarily on drawing. Her work is inspired by the ubiquitous nature of pop culture and internet imagery, drawn from the endless scrolling of social media applications. She recontextualizes these images by reassembling and rendering them in traditional media. Originally from small-town Virginia, she moved to Washington, DC, to attend the Corcoran College of Art + Design. In 2010, Sarah received her BFA, and she continues to live and exhibit in the Nation’s Capital.


Ashley Ja’nae is a visual artist born and raised in Washington, DC. Her work explores beauty standards, intersectionality, identity, and safe spaces for Black American womanhood. She received her BFA in art and design education from Pratt Institute. She has exhibited her work in DC, Virginia, Maryland, New York City, and Illinois. When she is not making art, Ashley teaches elementary and middle school students.


Zofie King is primarily an assemblage artist and photographer, using materials and creating imagery that relate to specific psychological phenomena. Each object and image represents a key element in a narrative vignette, in visual layers that contain scientific and superstitious facets. Born in Poland and raised in Germany, Zofie King came to the US in 1998. After graduating with a psychology degree in 2002, she studied interdisciplinary craft at Towson University. For six years she worked in interior design while taking classes at MICA and the Corcoran. She devoted herself to her studio art practice after moving to the DC area in 2010.


Kelly Posey is a painter first, and a teacher second. Posey has taught for 17 years while raising two children and during most of that time was a Sunday painter. But in the past few years, as her children have grown up and become more independent, she have been able to paint on a more regular basis that has become routine for her. Posey is an abstractionist. Deep meditation and reflection on past works that she did in encaustics has given me new insight on the creation of painting and the process of brush stroke and color fields. Posey’s investigations into this process have allowed her paintings, both past and present, to have an open dialogue with one another. Her work has evolved, over time, from a highly narrative figurative style into abstract painting laced with symbolism. There is still narrative, but she wants it to be broader. This work is speaking about energy in nature, and the subtle or strong forces working beyond the human realm. Some work deals with microorganisms and some deal with deep space. However, all of them deal with the beauty and dichotomy of those worlds in their own complexity or simplicity. We as human beings are a very infinitesimal part of the universe.


Katie Pumphrey has a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has participated in artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Studios of Key West, The Creative Alliance, and Gallery Four. Katie is also a long distance, open water swimmer and swam the English Channel in August of 2015. This aspect of her life often influences and drives her work. Her recent work explores movement, mass, competitive roles, and instincts through large-scale paintings, drawings, and installations. Katie currently lives and works in Washington, DC.


Renée Regan is a contemporary artist with a background in fine art photography. She received her BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC, and has participated in over 20 art shows with her first solo show in August of 2016 at the DC Art Studios. She is a co-curator for a DCDADA collective to connect and show local artists. Her artwork ranges between photography, drawing, performance art, and sculptural successories. Regan’s art often contains illusionary ideas or imagery that seduces viewers into disorientation and tests the limits of their view on reality.


Julie Wills is an interdisciplinary artist working in the expanded field of sculpture, including installation, collage works on paper, performance, video, and site-specific practices. She holds an MFA from the University of Colorado and an MA in art criticism from the University of Montana. She is a 2017 recipient of a Denbo Fellowship and residency from Pyramid Atlantic Art Center; has been an artist-in-residence at the Jentel Foundation, PLAYA, and the Hambidge Center, among others; and has exhibited her work widely. In addition to her individual studio practice, Wills has worked since 2004 as one of four members of The Bridge Club collaborative ( Wills is an assistant professor of studio art at Washington College in Chestertown, MD.


In 2007 Sparkplug was launched as DCAC’s artists collective. Participants are sought from all communities in the Washington, DC area with the goal of bringing together artists and curators from wide range of backgrounds and experiences and are given an environment in which to foster their development as a group. Each year we feature an exhibition of the entire Sparkplug group.

Around 10 members participate for 2 years, meeting on a monthly basis to critique each other’s work, discuss exhibitions around the area, visit each other’s studios, and meet with arts professionals such as curators, collectors and established artists. Through this process they try to find common ground in their practice and work despite the diversity of their styles, mediums, background and education.

Sparkplug applications are open! The deadline is October 15, 2018 by midnight for the 2019-2020 cohort.


Sparkplug Prototype; 2007: Djakarta Jacobs, Ian Jehle, Jennifer Foley, Lea-Ann Bigelow, Karen Joan Topping, and Laurel Hausler

Sparkplug 2007-2010: Blair Murphy, Deborah Anzinger, Karen Joan Topping, Kathryn McDonnell, Peter Gordon, Michael Matason, Lisa McCarty, Jenny Walton, Lea-Ann Bigelow, and Mark Planisek

Sparkplug 2010-2012: Chajana denHarder, Chandi Kelley, Dafna Sternberg, Matt Smith, Todd Gardner, Joseph Hale, and Blair Murphy

Sparkplug 2012-2014: Amy Hughes Braden, Lee Gainer, Piper Grosswendt, Michelle Lisa Herman, Rebecca Kallem, Corwin Levi, Rachel Schmidt, and Stephanie Williams

Sparkplug 2015-2016: Casey Snyder, Brendan Smith, Jerry Truong, Michael Booker, Megan Maher, DeLesslin George-Warren, Fabiola Alvarez Yurcisin, David Ibata, and Jerome Skiscim.

Sparkplug 2017-2018: Héctor Cataño, Eric Celarier, Alexis Gomez, Sarah Jamison, Ashley Ja’nae, Zofie Lang, Kelly Posey, Katie Pumphrey, Renée Regan, Julie Wills


2007: Chamber Play; artDC International Art Fair in Washington, DC from April 27 to May 30. Curated by Lea-Ann Bigelow.

2008: DCAC’s Sparkplug; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from May 2 -11 with Artists’ Talk on May 10. Curated by Lea-Ann Bigelow.

2008: E32. Participation in slide presentation at 5C Cultural Center in New York City on September 16.

2009: Sparkplug: NEW WORK; Exhibition at Arlington Arts Center, Jenkins Community Gallery, Arlington, VA, from June 19 to August 22 with Artists’ Talk on July 22. Curated by Lea-Ann Bigelow and Blair Murphy.

2009: Findings; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from October 16 to November 15 with Artists’ Talk on November 8. Curated by Lea-Ann Bigelow and Blair Murphy.

2010: Facts and Fictions; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from June 18 to July 19 with Artists’ Talk on July 11. Curated by Blair Murphy.

2011: Something Other Than The Present; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from June 17 to July 17 with Artists’ Talk on July 16. Curated by Blair Murphy.

2012: Loose Ends; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from June 15 to July 15 with Artists’ Talk July 15. Curated by Deborah Anzinger.

2013: External Memory; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from June 7 to July 14 Artists’ Talk July 14. Curated by Chandi Kelley.

2014: (inter)Related; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from June 6 to July 13 with Artists’ Talk July 13. Curated by Allison Nance.

2015: Dis/Satisfaction: Permission to rewrite history, it’s personal; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from February 13th to March 15 with Artists’ Talk on March 15th. Curated by Kathryn McDonnell.

2016: Power (I Know It When…); Exhibition at DC Arts Center from October 21 to December 4 with Artists’ Talk on November 17. Curated by Lea-Ann Bigelow.

2017: Process & Practice; Exhibition at DC Arts Center from February 17 – March 19 with Artists’ Talk on March 12. Curated by Andrew Johnson.



  • Provides an advisor who will coordinate monthly meetings and facilitate the planning process for Sparkplug exhibitions and events;
  • Provides administrative support to Sparkplug—maintaining a roster of collective members, scheduling activities, developing and maintaining Sparkplug’s presence on the DCAC website and in the newsletter;
  • Provides opportunities for artists to publically present their work and helps artists hone their presentation skills;
  • Organizes a “Blitz Crit” event for Sparkplug members, bringing together a group of local curators for an evening of critiques;
  • Makes the gallery or theater available for monthly discussions and critiques;
  • Works with Sparkplug artists to identify essential outside expertise (legal, technical, curatorial, etc.) and brings knowledgeable professionals to share information at meetings;
  • Provides a section of the website for information about Sparkplug members and their work, including links to members’ websites and a section about alumni members;
  • Hosts two group shows of Sparkplug artists at DCAC and finds curators to work with the artists for those exhibitions.

  • Meet monthly to discuss their own and others’ work, plan exhibitions, and discuss topics related to professional practice;
  • Identify training and resources that will assist in their artistic development;
  • Maintain DCAC membership at the $60 membership level or above while in Sparkplug (membership includes 20% off all DCAC tickets and events; 15% off first five purchases at Utrecht Art Supplies; bimonthly calendar of events; FREE 2’x2′ square at 1460 Wall Mountables; invitations to member meetings and events);
  • Create new works during their two-year membership in Sparkplug;
  • Provide work for Sparkplug shows and related projects as requested;
  • Abide by the exhibition contracts for Sparkplug shows at DCAC;
  • Represent Sparkplug at DCAC events;
  • List their participation in Sparkplug in their professional materials (bio, website, blog, etc.) and provide a link to DCAC’s website,, on their own websites.