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The Shape of Things - August 2012

The Shape of Things
Sculpture at The Art League
August 8–September 3, 2012

Giraffe Boy, Trinka Roeckelein — winner of the Monkith Saaid Sculpture Award

Opening Reception:
Thursday, August 9, 6:30-8:00 pm

The Shape of Things features three-dimensional sculptures, forms, structures, and creations by Art League artists.

The sculptural work juror Mara Adamitz Scrupe selected spans a variety of media and styles. Traditional and contemporary figurative work, thought provoking narrative work, and structural works are represented. The Shape of Things will be featured in The Art League Gallery concurrently with ‘Scapes, traditionally a predominantly two-dimensional exhibit.

View more images of artwork in the exhibit on our Flickr page.

Gallery Hours:

Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Open Thursdays until 9:00 pm
Sundays 12:00 noon – 6:00 pm 

“The Shape of Things” — August 2012
Juried by Mara Adamitz Scrupe
Juror’s dialogue with George Miller

What were your expectations prior to jurying?
Mara Adamitz Scrupe: I don't approach jurying exhibitions with a set of expectations. Rather, I enjoy and revel in the diversity of work that is usually presented.

What do you look for in a successful work of art?
Scrupe: Any successful work of art exhibits several important qualities. It must present a unified vision that is unique to the maker, it must be surprising in some way (that might be visually or conceptually), and it must make me want to look at it longer to understand its message. It must also tell me something about the human experience in general terms and in terms of the specific voice of its maker.

What is it like to jury a show based just on images? Were the photographs themselves better or worse for certain pieces, and did that affect whether they were accepted?
Scrupe: A wide range of quality was evident in this selection of artworks in terms of the documentation of the works themselves. Some probably suffered in my understanding of them because the photographic images were not of the best quality. It is always a challenge to judge visual artwork from photographs, but in general I found this group of pieces to be fairly representative, from the standpoint of photography, of exhibitions that I have juried in the past. That said, it is almost always the case that the more professional the photography the more likely the art piece is to be fairly judged. Likewise, the very well-documented pieces always seem to suggest to the juror that the artist is committed to the practice of art and believes enough in her/his work to make certain that it is shown in the best possible light. I recommend that any artist who feels uncertain about her/his ability to photograph artwork should invest in hiring a professional photographer, or alternatively to take a workshop in photographing artwork — these are often offered by local and regional art centers.

(Note: The Art League offers a Photographing Your Artwork workshop — the next one is
January 6, 2013 with photography instructor Pete Duvall.)

What technical element is most important for you in jurying a sculpture exhibit?

Scrupe: From a technical perspective, it is most important that an artwork is well made and exhibits confidence in craftsmanship. Alongside this attribute, it is crucial that the artist push materials and techniques to say something new, personal, and unexpected in the finished work. 

How important are subject matter, narrative, and things like that?
Scrupe: I believe that ideas and concepts must be as strong in an artwork as technique and skills in craftsmanship. It is immaterial to me whether the artist works in realism, narrative art, or any number of possible visual styles or approaches. I am most interested in being able to discern a singular voice or point of view in the artwork. This, I believe, derives from a unification of idea/concept with technical or material virtuosity.

What were the unselected works lacking?
Scrupe: Pieces that were not selected lacked a singular artistic vision or voice. In general, they seemed to be a representation of visual styles or strategies that are too familiar or perhaps seen a little too often.

Did you find some mediums stronger or weaker than others? Are the criteria for, say, a steel sculpture different from those you use for a wood sculpture?

Scrupe: Materials are significant only to the extent that they have been carefully chosen to best reflect the idea and vision for the artwork. A wood sculpture can be just as strong and moving as a steel or plaster or glass or ceramic piece. But it is very important that the materials selected by the artist are the very best possible choices in supporting the vision for the work.

Can you briefly describe what your own artwork is like? Does your own work as an artist influence you as a juror?
Scrupe: As an interdisciplinary artist working in a wide variety of media and approaches, I find that my broad experience working in an array of materials and techniques impacts how I approach the works of other artists. In that regard, in others' works I look for sensitivity to materiality, techniques and other formal concerns in the support of a singular artistic vision.

Why did you select Giraffe Boy, the clay piece by Trinka Roeckelein, for the Monkith Saaid Sculpture Award?

Scrupe: The work is playful yet emotionally moving and perhaps even a little dark. It exhibits a very clear unification of materiality and concept/content. Though not a particularly large piece, it grabbed my attention and held it, and I kept returning to it over and over to try to determine why it works so well as a sculpture even though its approach as pseudo-realist portraiture is age-old. In the end, there is an air of mystery in this sculpture — something that draws us in and can't be explained verbally — it speaks to us visually and quite powerfully.

What do you hope the viewer comes away from this show with? What was your own experience as a viewer while jurying?
Scrupe: I wanted the show to display a range of approaches to sculpture while at the same time communicating the importance of strength in craft and use of materials with excellence in concept and content. I also — and no less importantly — hoped that this selection of works would speak to and delight audiences and viewers.

What advice do you have for our artists?

Scrupe: Keep working and making, trust in your own individual vision, invest in yourself and your work, and believe in your significance and power as an artist and as a contributor to the richness of our culture. And of course, always bear in mind that one juror's point of view is just that — on any given day another juror would have made a different selection.

Is there anything you wish you had seen more of? Less of? Is there anything else you want to add about the exhibit?
Scrupe: I was excited to see the diversity of work represented by the entries I reviewed, as well as the range of ideas and approaches expressed in the artworks. It was a pleasure and an honor to jury the show.


Mara Adamitz Scrupe is a nationally and internationally recognized interdisciplinary artist. Her site installations, videos, performances, interventions, drawings, and artist-made books reach out to explore human commitments to land and community, and the ways that profound knowledge and love of place can impact efforts toward protecting imperiled communities, particularly in rural, agricultural America. Scrupe has also served as visiting artist and professor for many colleges, universities, and art institutions. Her website is www.scrupe.com.




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