(CON)text: Art With a Message
June 5–July 1
A juried exhibit of text-based work or work that makes a strong statement. For a complete list of artists in this exhibit please click here.
View this exhibit on flickr.
The original opening reception (scheduled for June 13) has been cancelled due to inclement weather.
Join us for the closing reception on Sunday, June 30, 2:00-4:00 pm.
A Common Thread by Kathlyn J. Avila, winner of the Urquhart Award for Best in Show
Juried by John James Anderson
Juror’s dialogue with George Miller
“(CON)text” is the theme of the June exhibit at The Art League Gallery, and it was also what guided the selection process for juror John James Anderson, a DC-based artist and art teacher. The context of a piece in relation to other submitted work, its context in art history, and Anderson’s personal context were all factors in selecting work for the exhibit, he said.
Artists responded to the call for “text-based work or work that makes a strong statement” in a number of ways. Some incorporated original or repurposed text or worked with language and the written word in other ways. Of the work without text, various messages emerged: social and political commentary, visual conflict, comments on art, and stories (such as the The Sirin by Guido Kreuger, a series of photographs documenting the creation of a silk painting by Anna Yakubovskaya).
Messages ranged from the subtle to the explicit, with Anderson saying he was concerned about whether some statements were even too direct. He noted that even abstract work can carry a message: historically, the message comes across in artists’ rejection of the image and the “rules” of art. While the juror might read a different message than the artist had in mind, sometimes it’s not about what the artist brings to a piece but what the juror (and other viewers) bring to it, Anderson said.
Anderson recognized two artists with awards. Best in Show (the Urquhart Award) he awarded to A Common Thread, a mixed media sculpture by Kathlyn Avila Reyes. He said the narrative, presented through photos in the figure’s clothing, the materials making up the piece, and the pieces of the cotton plant crowning the figure, made it compelling. The artist’s use of materials — with clay imitating fabric and fabric standing in contrast to the unworked cotton plant — pushed the limits of collage and transcends each individual medium.
“It’s the one piece that kept talking to me,” Anderson said.
For the Anne Banks Collage Award, Anderson selected I Woke Up Crying by Pamela Day, a narrative work which incorporated stitchings and drawings that mimicked those of a child. Anderson, the father of a four-year-old, said he was intrigued by the dream-like story and the use of color and thread. Like the most successful artwork, it left an indelible mark, he said, pushing his reaction beyond words and taking him to unpredictable places.
John James Anderson (johnjamesanderson.com) is an interdisciplinary artist who works with vector and raster software, video, painting, and less conventional tools and media. He earned two BFAs from Iowa State University and has over a decade of experience working as a graphic designer. After earning an MFA in painting from American University, Anderson began to teach art in the greater Washington, DC metro area, and has taught at American University, The George Washington University, George Mason University, and The Corcoran College of Art and Design. He is currently an associate professor of art at Prince George's Community College in Largo, MD, and a freelance arts writer for Washington City Paper and Art in America. His work has exhibited throughout the United States, and has been awarded several grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.