For Freedoms: Human Rights and Civil Rightshas been up for a few months now at the BMA. In Birmingham, the topic of freedom is particularly revered as the city is still reconciling its history of civil rights abuses of people of color. The visitor response wall grows daily – the image here is a few weeks old now. Norman Lewis’s Alabama II (1969) looks striking in the 8th-Avenue lobby.
I was thrilled to co-curate this exhibition with Katelyn Crawford, the Curator of American Art at the BMA. Catch it before it closes on November 18, 2018.
The Department of Art in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University is pleased to announce The Spring 2017 BFA Candidates Senior Thesis Exhibition. Variety Pack features the work of Virginia Barton, Shannon Bewley, Emily Cox, Joseph Wheeler, and Caroline Wheeler. The exhibition opens in Biggin Gallery on Monday, April 17, and runs through April 28, 2017. There will be an opening reception at the gallery from 5 – 7 p.m. on April 17.
This year’s juror is art historian and critic James Elkins. Dr. Elkins is the author of such books as Our Beautiful, Dry, and Distant Texts: Art History as Writing; Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles?; What Painting Is; The Domain of Images; Why Art Cannot Be Taught: A Handbook for Students; How to Use Your Eyes; and the experimental nonfiction book, What Photography Is. He is E.C. Chadbourne Chair of art history, theory, and criticism at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. Dr. Elkins is currently at work on an experimental novel with images.
Dr. Elkins will present his lecture “Empathy, Affect, Obsession, Boredom.” The lecture is a survey of current theories of affect and other non-verbal forms of encounter with artworks; the last two terms are developed from the book What Photography Is.
Juror: Dennis Harper, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn, AL
Selecting the art for this exhibition of self-portraiture was both a pleasure and a difficult task. As I had expected, the quality of submissions was very high, which ensured a distinctive group of works. At the same time, this abundance of good art made it especially challenging to a juror when only a limited number of objects can fit into a given space. Seventy-three works of art created in a range of media were submitted for consideration. Of those, thirty-nine that I considered exemplary are included here. I congratulate the successful exhibitors for their fine work. I also commend those artists whose work is not included in the exhibition. They, too, produced compelling portraits. Please know that every elimination came only after careful deliberation.
A self-portrait implies that its maker has engaged in a process of self-reflection—not always an easy task even without a pencil, brush, or other creative tool in hand. The result may reflect an examination of the topography of one’s face or body. It might be an attempt to shape inner sentiments into physical form. It can serve as a kind of graphical lie-detector that reveals the artist’s self-concept through exaggeration or diminution of those corporal and psychological aspects. Creating an intimate portrait of oneself is a brave act, and is even more so when submitted for public review! I salute and thank you all for the chance to see each of you as you see yourself.
Awarded: James E. Furr Award for Creative Excellence for Filter Feeders (Albino) (2016).
This year’s juror is Jamillah James. Jamillah James is assistant curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. With Anne Ellegood, Hammer senior curator, she was an institutional curator for the spring 2015 exhibition, Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974–1989 at the Hammer (organized by The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York), the first museum survey of Gaines’s early work. She recently assisted Hammer chief curator Connie Butler on the critically acclaimed exhibition and publication, Mark Bradford: Scorched Earth. She currently organizing two concurrent exhibitions with painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Hammer Projects: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and The Beautyful Ones, the artist’s first exhibitions in Los Angeles.
Pivotal: Environments showcases works from advanced art students pursuing degrees from the Auburn University’s Department of Art & Art History. As young artists, each student struggles to find their voice and direction in a myriad of inputs and assignments. Our works echo our shared environments – our community of studios and streets. Works chosen for this exhibition successfully respond to our environment, serving as pivotal points of understanding and development of the artists’ craft or theme. Jurors for this show were Elliot Knight, Visual Arts Program Manager at the Alabama State Council on the Arts and Zdenko Krtić, artist and Associate Professor of Studio Art at Auburn University. Pivotal: Environments, as diverse as the artists themselves, highlights the works initiating the direction of the young artists’ careers.
Shannon Bewley’s artist statement:
The common consideration of the exhibition space across my art historical research and artistic practice drives my interest in the ways in which the environment affects individuals and perception. Since the eighteenth-century, scientists have accepted the combination of environmental and genetic influences on our development. Later, Erving Goffman, influential sociologist of the twentieth-century, argued for the inclusion of man-made components of human infrastructure in to our consideration of the environment; any external stimuli, from architecture to next-door neighbors, contributes to individuals’ development. The works included in this exhibition initiated my interest in manipulating exhibition environments to highlight audiences’ perception of their surroundings as part of the contextual relationship between viewer, place, and work of art. Self-Contained (2015) represents the individual’s struggle against their defining environment, while Crazy Animal Attack Human (2015) explores the imbalanced relationship between humans and animals, questioning the treatment and perceived ownership of wild animals in public park spaces.