JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 28, 2021) – As the nation continues to grapple with complex social and political issues, the ninth annual “FL3TCH3R Exhibit: Social and Politically Engaged Art” is dedicated to the protection of voting rights. The exhibition is on display at East Tennessee State University’s Reece Museum through Dec. 10.
The “FL3TCH3R Exhibit” was established in 2013 in memory of Fletcher H. Dyer. Fletcher, 22, was an ETSU Bachelor of Fine Arts senior concentrating in graphic design when he was lost too soon in a motorcycle accident in 2009. His parents, emeritus ETSU Department of Art and Design professor M. Wayne Dyer and attorney Barbara H. Dyer, and sister, graphic designer Carrie A. Dyer, serve as co-directors.
The family said the exhibition appropriately honors Fletcher’s legacy.
“The ‘FL3TCH3R Exhibit’ stands behind diverse communities and their voting rights,” they wrote. “We are concerned that all people do not have equal access to contribute their voice. Why not make voting more accessible to all?”
This year’s exhibition presents the largest number of works in “FL3TCH3R” history, according to the museum.
“While every year presents new work by different artists, this year’s exhibition is unique, as it features the most work ever in a single ‘FL3TCH3R’ exhibition, with 109 artworks,” said Spenser Brenner, the museum’s exhibition coordinator.
The exhibition, which contains a variety of art forms from paintings to sculpture, includes artists from Iran, Ireland, Poland, Turkey and 21 U.S. states.
The exhibition is co-sponsored by the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at ETSU.
“The ‘FL3TCH3R Exhibit’ never fails to showcase the thoughts, ideas and issues on artists’ minds,” said Rebecca Proffitt, interim director of the museum. “This year is no different, and the passion of these artists is evident in the work.”
Playing an important role in this year’s exhibition is Michael Ray Charles, an internationally acclaimed artist and professor at the University of Houston’s School of Art. Serving as the exhibition’s juror, Charles reviewed all entries, selecting the 109 works for the 2021 “FL3TCH3R Exhibit.”
“The exhibition consists of a range of styles and incorporates traditional and non-traditional materials and disciplines,” said Charles. “This group of artists has developed striking combinations of realism and abstraction that produce thought-provoking visual sensations of everyday life in viewers’ minds.”
The Dyer family was thrilled that Charles accepted their invitation.
“Michael Ray Charles is a fierce artist,” said M. Wayne Dyer. “His work grapples with the most important issues of our time where histories of our country collide with consequence. He illuminates the importance of diversity, perspective, social practice and forming important perspectives through his work.”
Carrie A. Dyer, associate professor of graphic design at High Point University, added: “Fletcher believed in breaking down racist structures in our culture. We are honored that Michael Ray Charles is collaborating with us as this year’s juror. Fletcher would be so proud.”
At 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, at the museum, Charles will present a juror talk. An awards ceremony begins at 6 p.m., followed by a reception. The public is invited to the in-person event, and staff will provide a Zoom link on the museum website for anyone attending virtually. Masks will be required at the indoor event.
“National and global social landscapes continue to be endless sources of inspiration for artists,” Charles said. “As you know, the moment any object begins to function as art, it can potentially change society for better or worse.”
Every year, the “FL3TCH3R Exhibit” draws interest from artists around the globe.
“In the beginning, we envisioned the exhibit as a national show of visual arts,” said Barbara H. Dyer. “However, in the first year’s submissions, we received entries from Canada, so we called the exhibit a multinational exhibition. By the second year, we were getting submissions from multiple countries across the world and it became known as an international exhibit which continues today.”
According to Brenner, the exhibition gives back to politically and socially engaged artists with $2,500 in awards. In addition, an ETSU Art and Design student receives the Fletcher H. Dyer Scholarship every year.