Timothy Washington is a key figure in the Los Angeles assemblage movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Born in 1946, Washington has lived and worked in Los Angeles his whole life. He took early inspiration from Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, near which he grew up, and he often gathered discarded objects he found in the Watts neighborhood. While working as a scenic painter for companies such as NBC and Disney, Washington turned to making sculpture as a means of personal expression. This work grew out of the larger L.A. movement and in conversation with his peers and friends, including John Outterbridge, Betye Saar, and David Hammons.
Recent sculpture draws on the history of assemblage, folk-art and African tribal sculpture, in which Washington transforms ordinary objects into vibrant figures, creating his own unique language to describe personal experiences. Washington collects everyday objects such as bottles, bits of paper, fabric and china as well as other found items, and incorporates these quotidian materials into surfaces of cotton, glue and pigment that cover a metal armature made of wire coat hangers. Of his use of cotton, he comments: “I am still picking cotton.” An early steel figure, widely shown in the ‘70s in L.A., will also be exhibited, along with examples of important early graphic statements on aluminum.
Washington studied at the Chouinard Art Institute from 1965-1969, and his work has been included in museum exhibitions such as Three Graphic Artists: Charles White, David Hammons, Timothy Washington at the L.A. County Museum of Art in 1971 and Los Angeles 1972:
A Panorama of Black Artists, also at LACMA, and Inside my Head: Intuitive Artists of African Descent at the California. African American Museum, L.A. in 2009.