Michael Roller, Radha Lakshmi, Aspen Que Stein, and Kristine Donnelly

“Abstract art” is an extensive term that sprawls throughout the archives of art history. It has a deeply rooted history across the world, and as centuries pass, we are still drawn to the unseen and the imagined. It spans all art forms and can be interpreted endlessly by each person that views the work.

There is no unchangeable formula to abstraction. Expressionism and even geometric abstraction provide radical freedom from principle, and in doing abstract work, artists are in a sort of conversation with the surface. Rituals and processes are created and sustained by the artist, not solely by the rules of the past. Color and shape are essential—they guide our eye, are loaded with meaning, and unlock the emotions of each image. Bold hues catch our attention while subtle tones provide a sense of peace, drawing each person deeper into the artist’s narrative.

This summer, 1628 is thrilled to be showcasing 19 local and regional artists in our first exclusively abstract show, Not Quite Seen: Investigating How Artists Perceive the World. Presenting new ways of looking at the world, it is an exploration of form, color, and emotion, created and interpreted uniquely by artist and viewer. Featured in this show are artists Michael Roller, Radha Lakshmi, Aspen Que Stein, and Kristine Donnelly


Michael Roller is interested in the potential of small habits and patterns in human behavior. His abstract works are brought to life through rational, orderly processes carried out in an expressive style. His art is often centered on habitual “products”—chores, social media, corporate culture—as well as the data used to aggregate them. He uses simple algorithms to dictate many of his creative choices: colors, tools, scale. This approach explores the paradox between constraints and creativity and aims to show the value of habits beyond pure utility.

“These works were a departure from my previous painting style at the time, providing me with a new conversation with my surface and freedom from the constraints of old work habits. The work begins with layering multiple images from popular media, expressing the feelings of serial dramas, settings, and characters rather than a single, share-worthy moment. Using thin washes of color allows the pieces to develop their own vocabulary that takes over the original imagery and presents something new to the viewer.”


Radha Lakshmi is a Visual and Community Artist. She primarily practices the art of Mandala making, a ritual art form passed down through her family for generations. Radha was born and raised in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India. Her practice of ritual art has led her on a journey of healing through storytelling, leadership training, and collaboration through creativity with a mind, body connection. Radha has national and international teaching experience. She worked as an art consultant/faculty member at Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bangalore, India. She has been a visiting scholar at Rhode Island School of Design, Darwin University (Australia), The College of Fine Arts, Sydney, and Indiana University. Her art has won numerous awards and is in museums and gallery collections worldwide. Locally, you can see her work at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Proton Therapy Center and Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute.


Aspen Que Stein is a biracial Asian American nonbinary artist who creates works that are derived from personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. A common theme explored in their work is self-perception versus public perception and the tension within this dynamic. Their interest in external and internal perceptions is rooted in their experiences as a biracial Asian American and trans person and the social fluidity these social identities sometimes require. They use mixed media and abstracted imagery to meditate on these experiences.

Cell Bodies explores social identities. Cells are the basic unit of life but can be further broken down into separate parts like the mitochondria or the nucleus. Each part of a cell informs how the cell functions, social identities play a role in determining how an individual functions. The cells are abstracted and cover the figure, a visual way to explore the dynamic between the roles within social identities and the tensions one might internally feel due to these external pushes.


Kristine Donnelly, inspired by historical ornament and pattern, creates large-scale cut paper sculptures that are the result of a painstakingly laborious process. Using a simple blade, she hand cuts intricate designs into patterned paper and through screenprinting, reproduces and repeats the patterns onto long rolls of paper. The cutting destroys sections of the printed pattern and reveals fragments of designs and walls hidden below. Rather than hiding or preserving its fragility, Donnelly’s work tests the tolerance of paper through cutting, stitching, pinning, and stretching. Her process is both meditative and obsessive, and her work questions the function and frivolity of decoration. Donnelly lives in Cincinnati and teaches at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Her interest in pattern and design was sparked by a residency in Prague, Czech Republic. Her work has since evolved into large-scale paper sculptures and installations. She is the recipient of a Summerfair Individual Artist Grant and was recognized as one of five Women to Watch by the Ohio Advisory Group in 2020. Donnelly has exhibited locally and regionally, including the Carl Solway Gallery, the Carnegie Arts Center, Taft Museum of Art, University of Cincinnati Galleries, and 21c Museum Hotel.



Multiple pieces in this exhibition are for sale. If you are interested in seeing our most recently scanned exhibition Queen City Visual Narrative virtually, click here. If you are interested in purchasing any artwork from the show, please contact us at art@1628ltd.com.”

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