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Open Exhibit - Dec 2017

Open Exhibit
December 6, 2017 - January 7, 2018
Juror: Margaret Adams Parker

Opening Reception: Thursday, December 14, 6:30–8:00 pm

View full program here. View the show on our flickr site here.

Juror’s Statement with Margaret Adams Parker

It was a pleasure to return to the Art League to jury this show. As a juror I try to bring to bear the same standards I use in examining my own work. I look first for sound composition and mastery of medium, and then ask whether these formal qualities convey the artist’s intention. I agree with Ben Shahn that form and content are inseparable, although my understanding of content is broader than Shahn’s, encompassing non-objective as well as representational images. I ask that an image show me something I had not seen or known before, offered through this particular artist’s hand and eye, mind and heart. That “something” may be large and brash, intimate and tender, overtly political, or quietly private, but never generic or neutral.


As always when I jury a show, I was aware that the works gathered together represent a tremendous commitment of time, discipline, training, and dedication. I want to thank all the artists who entered. Those of you who are entering for the first time or the fiftieth time will all know that it takes a measure of courage to submit your work for possible rejection. I was impressed with the overall quality of the art and regretted eliminating some worthy entries.


There has been a balancing act (through long centuries of art) between subject matter, narrative, and form. I received my training at a time when form was paramount, subject matter was suspect, and narrative was unacceptable. The balance is shifting in the other direction. I would argue that standing mid-way is essential: that subject and narrative should always be expressed through sound form (composition, color, line…) and that purely formal work should convey, if not subject, at least a sense of how the artist sees.


Landscape, figure, and still life are subjects that never go out of date, and themes of social justice are always significant. But each artists needs to find his/her own voice – and that includes style as well as content. I want to see what absorbs this particular artist, to feel that I am looking through this artist’s eye, hand, heart and mind. 


For the Carolyn Zakaski Award for Best Watercolor, I chose Amy Sabrin’s “Shadow Play” because it has a confident and distinctive handling of the watercolor medium, combined with a fine color sense, and intriguing viewpoint on the landscape. Hal Adkins’ “Basin Street” was selected for the Bertha G. Harrison Award for Best Classical Sculpture because of his fine use of technique and composition to convey a narrative. I was instantly drawn to Terri Rea’s “The Immigrants” even before I discerned the subject.  All the formal qualities – the handling of paint, the subdued palette, the suggestion rather than careful delineation of form, the composition – combine to create an image of introspection and power on the subject of immigration. That is why it is the overall Best in Show.


I want to thank as well the Art League gallery staff, in particular your director Whitney Staiger and Haven Ashley. Thanks also to the amazing group of volunteers who made a daunting task easier. 

About the Juror,
Margaret Adams Parker

Margaret Adams Parker is a printmaker and sculptor whose artworks often explore religious and social justice themes. She has an extensive exhibition record, including 25 solo shows. She taught painting and drawing for 19 years at The Art League School in Alexandria, VA and has served as an adjunct instructor at Virginia Theological Seminary since 1991. A graduate of Wellesley College, Parker also holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from American University. She was awarded a Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship and has served as a Coolidge Fellow at the Association for Religion and Intellectual LIfe, Artist in Residence at the Center for Art and Religion, Wesley Seminary, Wasington DC, and a Calvin College Summer Seminars Fellow.

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