People are Creative; Art is Subjective

8 05 2017

NB Art Show generalAPRIL 30, 2017

My friend invited me to see her art piece in the Nor’easter exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art. I was happy to oblige and attended the award presentation this past Sunday afternoon. Museum Director Min Jung Kim, describing this 47th annual juried show that highlights emerging artists in all media, noted that more than a thousand artists entered and eighty-eight were chosen. What competition! I am impressed by those accepted.

Sarah Fritchey, writer and full-time curator/gallery director at Artspace New Haven, was the juror who reviewed and selected those to participate. Her approach focused on seven common themes among the artists she chose: consumerism, violence against minorities, expression of time/discipline, power/oppression, reflections of major art works, craft works, and modernity.

Both Kim and Fritchey invited prize winners to the podium to be acknowledged and receive their award. The room was filled with artists, their family, and friends and we filtered upstairs, after enjoying some refreshments. I was excited to see the results.

NB Art Show CarolMy friend’s piece, United We Stand, was in the first room of the exhibit. She explained that fiber art has only recently been accepted in this type of show. Curator Fritchey had specifically commented earlier that she encouraged quilting and ceramics (both previously considered more hobbies than art). I realized there was much more politics to this than I had ever imagined.

NB Art Show visitors

I roamed the gallery, taking in a wide array of art forms and eavesdropping on conversations with artists. It was sweet to watch connections and reactions on people’s faces as they examined the works. Here are two of my summary ideas from the afternoon.

People are Creative

The variety of art forms and the ways they were used astounded me: an old tool box, filled with cloth replicas of tools; a stunning orb of color on opaque acrylic glass; a nostalgic and poignant video; a collage of small photo scraps; digital renderings; clothing mixed with poetry; Braille letters; an old student desk; bricks and arrows, just to name a few.

 Art is Subjective

Juror Fritchey included United We Stand as a testament to craft work, but to me it’s about addressing oppression (support of the union). The juror also categorized the third prize winner, Shoe Scribe, as consumerism. But, as I heard the poem written on the soles of the shoes in the work read aloud by another viewer, it sounded so poignantly focused on loss and endings.

NB Art Show MedussaMy favorite piece (no offense to my friend) was Medusa, a collage of snippets shaped into a stunning tree (probably why I was drawn to the piece initially). Only when I looked at the label did I realize how it was produced.

Which brings me to note how subjective art (and poetry) can be. Artists have an intention (sometimes) and understanding of their piece. What we, the viewers, get from it may be something so very different. I hope there is enough space for us to maintain our views and interpretations without offending the creator and not losing what is being offered.

Just a PS: I found it an interesting piece of strategy that one must be a member of the New Britain Museum in order to enter this exhibit. A sure-fire way to increase membership!

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