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Open Exhibit - April 2017

April Open Exhibit
Exhibit dates: April 4 – May 7, 2017
Opening reception: Thursday, April 13, 6:30–8:00 pm
Juror: April Wood

Simplicity, photograph, by Robert Friedman. Winner of The Art League Award for Best in Show.

April 2017 Program
View the exhibit

Q&A with Juror April Wood:

TAL: What did you expect to see before coming into the gallery?

AW: I expected to see work in all mediums from a variety of skill levels and backgrounds. I believe that’s what I saw. I think it’s a great asset to have a space like The Art League where artists are celebrated and encouraged in their work at all levels. 

TAL: What do you look for in a successful work of art? What were you looking for on Tuesday?

I was looking for work that has a unique voice, whether in subject matter, viewpoint, or approach to materials. I was also looking for work that was well crafted and skillfully executed. 

TAL: How important is subject matter, narrative?

In my own work, the subject matter is very important and considered. However, in jurying work I found subject matter or narrative was not necessarily important to me; it was the way in which the subject matter was handled. Freshness and a uniqueness of voice can make the most mundane subject matter come alive. 

TAL: What technical element is most important for you?

I’m attracted to graphic, bold forms and gestures, whether in mark making or imagery. I also like contrast, in color and composition.

TAL: What were the unselected works lacking?

While many of the works that I did not select were well done, they felt like technical studies instead of fully realized pieces. I was looking to see the individual artist’s voice and how they might make their subject matter unique to them.

TAL: What medium(s) did you find strongest/weakest? Why?

I was particularly drawn to the photography and printmaking entries. I found the graphic sense and vision to be the strongest in these areas, both formally and conceptually. 

TAL: Is there anything you wish you had seen more of? Less of?

As a predominantly three-dimensional artist, I wish I had seen more sculpture entries, but that’s purely a selfish motivation! 

TAL: How did you find the presentation/framing of the submissions?

I found the vast majority of entries to be very professionally mounted and displayed. There were also a large number where the artist had thoughtfully considered the aesthetics of the piece and how the frame might enhance that aesthetic. I was impressed by that thoughtfulness.

TAL: Does your own work as an artist influence you as a juror?

Certainly there are some elements in my own work that I find influence what I’m attracted to when looking at work. However, that is very broad. I utilize botanical and graphic lace imagery in my work, as well as subtle humor. I’m attracted to artists whose work has complexities of subtlety and boldness.

TAL: What drew you to the award winners? Can you elaborate on your selections?
As I stated above, I’m attracted to the complexity of subtlety and boldness within work. I feel that the award winners’ pieces were multi-faceted; they were well crafted and showcased the artists’ skills, but also had uniqueness to vision. I was especially attracted to the Robert Friedman’s Simplicity, the photograph I chose for Best in Show. I liked its starkness, the minimal nature of the lines created from what I read to be botanical forms. That simplicity created a bold composition that had underlying depth. I was also attracted to color, texture, and richness of surface in the other works I selected as Honorable Mentions. The contrast within the photograph of the woman walking towards the circle of orange chairs (Decisions, Decisions by Christine Bernstein) was particularly striking to me. I thought the painting of the Black Birth of Venus (Venus by Lesa Cook) was a smart critique of the ideals of female beauty in Western culture and the relationship to Black Women, as well as being a very skillful painting. I like tongue-in-cheek work.

TAL: What do you hope the viewer comes away from this show with?

I hope they are able to see the relationships in mark making, materials, patterns, and forms that I saw when I was selecting the work. 

TAL: What advice do you have for our artists?

I would encourage all artists to be bold and find your own vision and way of expressing your creativity. Why are you choosing the subject matter you are choosing? What is it about it that attracts you or excites you? What do you like about the materials you work with? How do you showcase that in your work? More than anything, I would encourage the artists at the Art League to keep entering shows and not be discouraged by rejection. It’s a part of the process. There are many reasons why work is not selected, and part of that is the way individual pieces work together to create a cohesive show. Keep making and get your work out there!

Thanks again for having me as a juror! 

April Wood is a co-founder of the Baltimore Jewelry Center, a metals + jewelry makerspace in Baltimore city, where she is a studio manager and instructor. She is a metalsmith, sculptor, and jeweler. She received her BFA in Studio Art, concentrating in Metals/Jewelry from Texas State University – San Marcos, and her MFA from Towson University. She has taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Penland School of Crafts, Idyllwild Arts Academy, and Towson University. Her work has been featured in Metalsmith, Surface Design Journal, and Sculpture. She exhibits her work nationally and internationally. Recent exhibits include a solo exhibition at the Austin Museum of Art in 2012, SIERAAD International Art Jewelry Fair in Amsterdam in 2013, and most recently Shadow Themes, a group exhibition at Reinstein Ross Gallery in New York City.

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