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Body Language - October 2013

Body Language
October 9 – November 4, 2013

Opening Reception: Thursday, October 10, 6:30 - 8:00 pm (awards presented at 7:30)

Click here to download the exhibit program.

Click here to view the exhibit on Flickr.

Watching Her, Nicole Stewart, oil. Winner of the Gilham Award.

"Body Language" explores the ways we use our bodies to express emotion, feeling, and movement. Renowned sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter juried this exhibit of figurative sculpture, paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs.

Work from this exhibit will also form the inspiration for this year's cocktails at
Art on the Rocks, coming Wednesday, October 23.

Juror's Dialogue
Jay Hall Carpenter with George Miller

Jay Hall Carpenter, juror for the “Body Language” figure exhibit, has a long history with The Art League as a former sculpture instructor and juror, most recently jurying the 2009 “Emphasis on Sculpture” exhibit. So he said he expected a strong body of figurative work to jury from, but even so, it was unusually difficult to narrow down.

Carpenter, an artist best known for creating the models for over 500 sculptures on the Washington National Cathedral, brought his perspective as a sculptor to bear on the process. He was looking for work akin to the sculptural approach, where the human body is used to enhance a work’s emotional content.

The juror’s most important criteria were craftsmanship, artistry, and content. In general, he avoided selecting works which bore the stamp of coming from a figure study class — while work from a classroom is fine, there is nothing compelling about a bored-looking model sitting on a chair, he said. In other words, the piece should have something to say other than just being an accurate representation of the body. Work started in class should be finished by putting the figure in context and adding emotional content to grab the viewer’s interest, he said.

Unselected work, in general, lacked this content or context, didn’t fit the figure theme, or didn’t accurately portray the anatomy. The last, in particular, was paramount because of the quality of the competition, Carpenter said.

The exhibit was highly competitive — because of limited space and the nature of the process, only 109 out of 484 pieces submitted were accepted into “Body Language.” Carpenter said he would have been happy to select for a larger show. As both a participant in juried exhibits and a ten-time juror, he knows, as all our jurors say, that the decisions reflect just one juror’s opinion.

“Being selected or omitted is not the last word on anyone’s work,” he said.

Regarding presentation, Carpenter said he tried to ignore the frames, and no works were eliminated because of framing. Art League jurors typically recommend simple frames and matting. Carpenter did point to one unusual frame that did complement the work inside — Wound Up by Doug Stern, an oil painting of a toy robot featuring a metallic frame with rivets.

The juror selected two pieces for awards, as well as several honorable mentions. The Sid Platt Watercolor Award was awarded to At the Window by Sheila Delaquil, which Carpenter described as atmospheric, but compelling. The watercolor depicts an indistinct, abstracted figure. Carpenter said it was a daring piece because the artist had control of technique, but demonstrated it subtly instead of showing off.

For the Gilham Award for best in show, Carpenter selected Watching Her, an oil painting by Nicole Stewart. It was the best example of a work directly addressing the theme, depicting a figure with expressive body language, accurate anatomy, and virtuosic drapery.

A professional sculptor for thirty-eight years, Jay Hall Carpenter earned his reputation during twenty years as sculptor for the Washington National Cathedral. He created the original carver's models for over 500 sculptures that adorn the gothic, limestone building. These sculptures include saints, angels, grotesques, and gargoyles. Many American churches contain his work, as do the State Department, the Smithsonian, Canterbury Cathedral, and the New England Medical Center. Other clients include West Point Military Academy, the Washington Theater Awards, and the State of Maryland.



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