Betty Mae Kramer Gallery & Music Room
One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 301-565-3805

Personal Topographies

The Betty Mae Kramer Gallery presents Personal Topographies, an exhibition featuring artworks from 3 Montgomery County-based artists: Mei Mei Chang, Sara Parent-Ramos and Jessica van Brakle

Exhibition Description

Personal Topographies
Curated by: Flannery Winchester, Public Art Manager at AHCMC

On View: February 28 – July 12, 2024
Gallery Hours: Fridays from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Watercolor Workshop: Saturday, June 1, 2024 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | RSVP Here

Personal Topographies explores the personal frameworks that individuals develop to navigate the world around us, from the societal structures that scaffold our day-to-day experiences with others to the natural and built infrastructures that we physically encounter. The exhibition features the works of three artists, Mei Mei Chang, Sara Parent-Ramos and Jessica van Brakle, who utilize different vantage points and media to investigate the ways in which we process and maneuver these systems.

Featured Artists: Mei Mei Chang, Sara Parent-Ramos and Jessica van Brakle.

** Please note: Outside food and beverages are not permitted in the gallery with the exception of water. **

On View + Gallery Hours

February 28 – July 12, 2024 | Fridays from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Press + Features

Featured Artists

Mei Mei Chang


Mei Mei received her Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Ohio University in 2002. As a mixed media and installation artist, Mei Mei explores various media to bridge her internal and external worlds. She is a lifelong student of the human psyche, fascinated by the mind’s ability to focus on details great and small without limits. Using her internal symbols, she creates rich visual images that are both highly personal and accessible by all.

Mei Mei has received numerous awards and residencies, including at the Vermont Studio Center, Great River Art Association, the ARCH Residency at Honfleur Gallery, the Montgomery College Artist Residency, and second place in the Contemporary South Exhibition.

Artist Statement

As an artist, I’ve always been drawn into the depth and the mysterious side of the psyche. This is the source of my art and I can only express it in a language that transcends words.

Through my work, I have always translated the topographical maps of the mind onto multilayered and patterned surfaces. Studying visual art and photography at Ohio University, and working at various locations and in diverse contexts across the US has led to my personal internal landscape’s taking on its appearances, colors, attractions, and distractions, all of which have culminated in the work that I do. Among the many symbols of my mind is the awareness of similarities and differences between Eastern and Western cultures. There are connections between internal symbols and connections that stretch out to the external. I believe that there is as much to uncover beneath the surface as to discover on the surface. Our minds occupy a space between the conscious and the subconscious; my work encompasses what is beneath the awareness of consciousness and beyond the passive knowing of subconsciousness, and brings it to life.

“Another aspect of the human mind that I explore is its freedom from the boundaries of macro and micro scales and its power of infinitesimal infinitude. My work is a place for the mind to move without limits, from the work down through layers of ever more granular complexity.”

Follow Mei Mei on Instagram! @meimeichang_art

Visit Mei Mei's Website

Sara Parent-Ramos



Born in Washington, DC to Italian/Canadian parents, Sara Parent-Ramos’s work stems from her international background and her work experience in the field of psychology and education. Her current work explores the processes that influence human actions that are beyond conscious awareness.

Parent-Ramos graduated from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She has been the recipient of a Cite International des Arts, Paris Residency Fellowship and a Fulbright scholarship. She was chosen as an Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly in 2016 and was selected as an Emerging Artist by the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts in 2018. Her work has been published in Artillery Magazine, Archivio Magazine, the Voice of San Diego and Ceramics Monthly. Most recently she has participated in exhibitions at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, The San Angelo Museum of Art, the San Diego Art Institute and The Clay Studio Philadelphia.

Artist Statement

The visible creation of scaffolded structures is a repeated theme in my work. I see a direct allegorical relationship between the sculptural scenarios I create and the social, biological and psychological processes that are the invisible scaffolding supporting the human body, society and mind. One of my goals as an artist is to make mental, biological and social scaffolds corporal. I invite the viewer to consider the structures that support their own bodies, outlook and social context.

My current artwork, investigates the microbiome, the wonderful and terrifyingly elusive world thriving inside and outside us. Our gut flora and fauna outnumber us, predate us, and can have a large impact on our functioning. Over the past decade, new research has emerged shedding light on the influence of bacteria on our health, mood, behavior and feelings.

Every person contains a thriving ecosystem of gut bacteria and every individual is also part of a larger community that has a diverse ecology of its own. Whether we focus on the microbiota in our stomachs or the individuals in our local community, a healthy ecosystem is one with a rich diversity of members. My most recent work explores the complex relationships that form the basis of both macro and micro ecological systems, though community engagement activities and the use of hyper-simplified sculptural forms. The result is a chaotic yet organized mapping of our relationship to ourselves and to others. I attempt to blur the boundaries between the microscopic and macroscopic in an effort to raise questions about the extent of human agency and the interconectedness of systems.

Follow Sara on Instagram! @sparentramos

Visit Sara's Website

Jessica van Brakle


Jessica van Brakle was born in Bethesda, Maryland and is a recent MFA graduate from The University of Maryland. She received her BFA in 2007 from The Corcoran College of Art & Design.

Van Brakle’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the Washington metropolitan area, included in Art Fairs such as Scope Miami and (e)merge Art Fair. She participated in the Artist Residency Program at the Arlington Arts Center from 2011-2015 and was selected in 2010 for a two-year fellowship with Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC. In 2020 and 2022 the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded van Brakle an Individual Artist Grant, and she is a six-time recipient of their Art Bank Acquisition grant. In 2019 and 2008 she received the Individual Artist Grant for Painting from the Maryland State Arts Council. Her work is included in the collection of the U.S. Consulate, Dubai as well as many corporate collections such as Google, PNC, Hilton Worldwide, and Capital One Digital Headquarters. While working towards her MFA degree at The University of Maryland she was awarded a Graduate Program Assistantship that included extensive teaching experience. On the college level she taught Drawing and Design to art majors and non-art majors as well as conducting summer art camps for kids of all ages. Van Brakle currently maintains an art studio in Mt. Rainier, Maryland.

Artist Statement

Tropical Obstructions: Through an interplay of delicately outlined pencil drawing and ink and acrylic painting that represent a changing, “under construction” scene, these pieces relate the conflicting worlds that can coexist in one psychological space. The work illustrates far-off or obstructed voyeuristic perspectives of landscapes comprised of organic tropical foliage and industrial elements – seen as signals of human presence. I am playing with figure-ground relationships, interchanging focus from the positive to the negative, foreground to background, in effort to challenge perception and ideas of permanence.

Follow Jessica on Instagram! @j._.vb

Visit Jessica's Website