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All-Media Exhibit - Sept. 2012

September All-Media Exhibit
September 5 – October 1, 2012

For a complete list of artists in this exhibit click here.

View this exhibit on our Flickr page.

"Buona Fortuna" by Miriam Keeler

Buona Fortuna by Miriam Keeler, winner of the Shayna Heisman Simkin Award.

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 13, 6:30-8:00 pm

Award: Shayna Heisman Simkin Award, $125.

This award honors the memory of former Art League artist Shayna Heisman Simkin. Her art career spanned more than fifty years, 22 as a member of The Art League. This award is given to the piece deemed "best in show" by the juror.

Juror: Judy Southerland
Juror’s dialogue with George Miller

“It’s something indefinable that makes you look again and again,” said Judy Southerland, juror for September’s All-Media Membership Exhibit, explaining what makes a piece of artwork successful. Among the elusive qualities she looked for, Southerland called on artists to take risks and create work uniquely their own, valuing sensitivity to the subject over technical skill.

Southerland chose 103 pieces out of 616 submitted to the exhibit, on view September 5 through October 1 in The Art League Gallery. Overall, she said, there was a high level of skill, but certain pieces took risks that allowed for a more compelling, more personal interpretation. “Awareness trumps skill,” Southerland summarized.
That “heightened sensitivity” brings an element of surprise and touches something deeper than mere recognition, lending a work its own life independent of its status as an object, she said. That achievement requires an empathy with the subject, as opposed to only visually observing it.
Technical prowess was a “non-issue” in deciding which pieces to accept, Southerland said. Some pieces that made it into the exhibit were lacking in classically defined technical skill. In fact, some work that wasn’t accepted suffered from dependence on conventional skills and subject matter. Artists should instead strive to make the subject and the work specifically their own, both in subject matter and style, Southerland said. They shouldn’t only experience a style like expressionism, but make it something of their own, and likewise should transform the subject matter from the familiar or nostalgic. Tried-and-true “postcard” images that have been seen before carry with them a historical baggage that artists should be aware of, she said.
In terms of presentation, Southerland advised paring back elements that distract from the work itself, namely frames, mats, and signatures. She recommended only neutral mats for use in a gallery setting, where works aren’t used as decoration. Neutral frames similarly avoid distracting from the work, though in some cases more elaborate framing can add to a piece by becoming part of it. And signatures should appear only on the back of artwork, she said. Otherwise, they become a visual interruption that pulls the viewer out of the work.
Southerland selected Buona Fortuna by Miriam Keeler for the Shayna Heisman Simkin Award for best in show. The oil painting features radically different perspectives in depicting figures at different times and locations across a landscape. Southerland praised the deliberately basic, almost naïve, technique, a “simplified but refined” style that suits the subject. The nonlinear composition presents “an interesting way to do a narrative,” introduced by the circle at the center of the image, she said. The painting is characterized by risk-taking and oppositions such as the circle within the square image, the competing perspectives, and the simplified figuration contrasted against the more fully realized figures as they appear across the river.
Southerland also named second and third prizes. She praised the sculpture Sir Hog by Trinka Roeckelein for its poignant treatment of gender and animals, as well as its undercurrent of humor. She said Another Day, a photograph of a monkey by Amanda Marie Harner, presented the most movingly rendered face of all the works submitted. Sir Hog received second prize and third prize went to Another Day.
Southerland received an MFA in Painting from American University and a BS in Art Education from Auburn University. Along with teaching at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Southerland curates shows throughout the Washington DC area. In 2011 she received an Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to support new work. In 2011, Southerland's work was selected for Strictly Painting 8 at McLean Project for the Arts in McLean, VA, and for the 34th National Art on Paper Exhibition at MFA Circle Gallery in Annapolis, MD. Her solo exhibitions include Borderland, 2010 at Greater Reston Arts Center, Reston, VA; Close to Far Away, 2008, Miami University, Middletown, OH; and In/Out of Place, 2007, The Arts Club of Washington, Washington, DC. Recent group shows include Catalyst at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC and “Likeness,” an exhibit at the Athenaeum in Alexandria from August 9 – September 23, 2012.




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