Dave Wertz's recycled object sculpture
The artists chosen for this exhibit had to pass muster from three very competent jurors: Michael Haga, Associate Dean at the College of Charleston School of the Arts, Charleston, South Carolina; Jeffery Allison; Paul Mellon Collection Educator and Manager of Statewide Programs and Exhibitions Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Robin Boucher; Art Programs Director Virginia Tech Student Centers and Activities.
The challenge in choosing work for this exhibit was recognizing that mixing high craft with fine art is ok. The breadth of technique and media expertise is a true representation of the art work being produced in our region. Because of the wide geographic distribution of the artists-all within a 150 mile radius of Blacksburg- you are getting a snapshot of how the mountains, valleys, hills, and streams create nooks and crannies that influence creativity. Although one could think the artists are isolated in this environment the opposite is true. Within each niche is a rich influence of culture, travel, and the forms created by both man and nature.
Darcy Meeker Mineral Spirit Italian Alabaster
Artists represented in this exhibit include professors (not all in art), former Fed Ex Drivers, Virginia Tech graduates (also not all in art), world travelers, mothers, and fathers. But over and over as the bios and statements are read from each artist a common theme emerges, and that is their mention of their sense of place within the region.
The work of the artist involves helping us to see something new. No matter how familiar the subject may be to us, the artist’s hand challenges our perceptions at some level. A realistic portrait offers us the chance to see more than a face, but also to ponder the emotion caught at a fleeting moment. Or seeing an abstract work may trigger a response unexpectedly because we don’t always understand what we are looking at in a logical manner.
My challenge while designing the exhibit was finding a commonality in work so that the viewer could “read” the show as they walked through it. You may choose to see each piece as a separate or individual work, or you may walk through and dare yourself to see the collective response of artists living within the unique geographic region of the East Coast Mountains, rivers, and piedmont. See if you can discern commonalities in form or color as you move from piece to piece. Perhaps the same idea is being explored by different artists using different media. Possibly there is an overall “sentiment” that is pervasive in the art represented and maybe this is reflective of a global “sense of place or time.”
It is ultimately the viewer who puts the show together. The artists make the work and the curator connects it into a holistic statement. You, the audience, like the person who reads the words in a book, make the ideas come to life. Otherwise what is on the walls of a gallery are really just things to look at.
Robin Scully Boucher-curator