National Juried Art Exhibition:
WE ARE THE ARTISTS
Juror: Anja Foerschner, Ph.D.
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
Supported by the Slocumb Galleries Student Society,
ETSU Civility Celebrations, Multicultural Center, Honors College,
Women's Resource Center and the Privilege Walk Collaborative
P/N 32: We Are the Artists
March 13 to April 7, Slocumb Galleries
P/N 32: Open - March 13 to 24, Tipton Gallery
Reception: March 23, Slocumb Galleries, 5 to 8 p.m.,
Juror’s Lecture at 6 p.m., Ball Hall Auditorium
JUROR'S STATEMENT: WE ARE THE ARTISTS
Jurying, selecting, and curating an exhibition is an incredibly exciting, but also
terribly challenging process. How do you choose the right works?
There is a reason that no one was ever able to find a universally valid definition for the often-asked question of “What is good art”?: Art and its audience interact in a subjective way that prevents any objective criteria from being established for what makes a viewer respond to an artwork positively or reject it. Every viewer, regardless of if s/he is “professional” or not, comes to an artwork from a different background, and with an idiosyncratic set of emotions, knowledge, and expectations. Vice versa is every artwork created by a unique individual, who has their own skillset, intention, creative process, material of choice, or intention.
When reviewing artwork, I thus have to resort to and rely on my own dialogue with it, a sometimes scary, but necessary process. In my experience, the greatest exhibitions have been curated following a strong vision with, with a curator pursuing rigorously a certain, often personally colored idea or argument. The reason for these narratives to become successful being that a good exhibition is not about pleasing everyone in the audience and illustrating a point everyone can agree on, but rather being about visualizing, narrating, and mediating a particular, maybe novel or unusual statement or thesis. This will, without doubt, draw criticism as not everyone will agree with that argument or the tone in which it is presented. But criticism is ultimately what makes an exhibition (and for that matter also an artwork) good. An exhibition that creates dialogue and dissent is an exhibition that triggers thought processes and thus goes beyond being pure pastime.
In my opinion about today’s art we are, in our contemporary culture, beyond the point where art is merely for pleasant contemplation. Now, more than ever, art needs to reclaim its place in society by moving us, making us think, pushing us to reconsider our opinions. We need art that interferes with our everyday lives, with our society, our politics, our history, and our culture. Art can do this in numerous ways and sometimes it is not even the most overt way that proves the most effective. At the same time, art needs to remain a unique tool for an artist to express his or her opinion, to work through one’s own struggles, and articulate one’s standpoint. In societally or politically difficult times, art is (and remains to be) a valid form of expression as well as a mirror in which we are confronted with our individual and common truths.