Nora Atkinson's Statement for Gallery 110's Annual Juried Exhibition
An exhibition that has specific parameters, surrounding a theme, a particular medium, or perhaps another constraint such as size, offers a straightforward starting place for its juror—a touchstone from which all pieces can be measured alike. This was not the case for this exhibition, however, and so I had my work cut out for me. The exhibition was conceptualized as an un-themed, open call for all manner of media, and it was up to me to decide which pieces were “the best” or “the most appropriate” or perhaps simply “my favorites.” How does a pop can, oozing with embroidered sticky-sweetness, measure up against the rich expressionist color of a painted portrait, the abstract, weightless structure of a paper sculpture, or the sensual seductive tones of a superbly executed black and white photograph? Skill, aesthetics, and content each played a role in my selection.
For this inexact science I must apologize to the capable and talented artists not chosen. Among the amazing array of submissions—more than 540 entries by 179 artists—there were a number of deserving pieces, however the fates of all the artists involved were subject to the biases and left up to the fancy of the curator, and I am quite pleased with this final group.
Although I selected the works that most captivated me without any particular theme in mind, what has come out of the process, I feel, is a relatively unified show. There is a quiet, solitary feeling that runs through many of the works, but also a subdued playfulness. As per my own particular tastes, many of the works imply a narrative and a strong sense of the passage of time (both in the objects and in their creation), yet there is a sense of ambiguity that runs through them. I am drawn into their imagined stories, and I was impressed by the careful attention paid by these artists to both material and process, not only in the skillful execution of the works, but in relation to the narratives they explore.
Within the submissions, I saw a recurring political undercurrent, and a sense both of anxiety and resilience in the face of hardship, unquestionably the result of the current political and economic climate. Though I have shied away from the most heavy-handed of works, these themes nonetheless run through the final selection: a young man sorts through change, while another watches the slow progression of a colorfully-stacked container ship making its way past the shore. Storm clouds form and flowers decay. A closet is cleared out—for what reason?—and a young man is buried. The exhibition, peopled by desolate beaches, quiet landscapes, modern advancements, and simple pleasures, offers the viewer an opportunity to reflects upon the interesting times in which we live.