Juror's Comments, SOTA 2020
Lori Phillips Ed.D. Juror Kansas State of the Art 2020
It was an honor to serve as juror for this very fine show. I was asked to select 75 pieces from more than 450 entries for the show. Deciding was not easy but the show had a breadth of styles, themes and media I found very appealing. Here are my thoughts and comments on the winning entries:
BEST IN SHOW: The Secret Garden
This piece speaks to us in so many ways. How can we miss the play of light in this exquisite color pencil drawing? It is second only to the way the artist makes the composition flow from the delicate detail of the gate to the solid vertical form of the subject and then the thicker line of the door. Notice the color repetition of the oxidized metal gate to the pre-teen’s eyes. What has someone just said to her? What is she feeling? Is she leaving or coming through the gate? She’s no angel… or is she? Notice the gold wings set behind her. Will they help her fly away? The artist uses great skill to convey so much expression and composition with beauty and elegance.
This work is reminiscent of past masters. To see another beautiful gate and girl see: The Railway a 1873 painting by Édouard Manet (1832-1883) that hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
Merit Award: Reflections I
Let’s look for all the reflections we can find in this painting. That is, after you get through admiring the subjects young, firm, muscular body. The artist skillfully uses the white light of the lamp to highlight our subject as well as the pull chains, envelope, and tissues in the foreground. But look a little closer. Notice the white thin horizontal lines on the top and bottom of the painting. What are those? Can it be that the artist is showing us a reflection of the man himself? Can it be this is not him, but a reflection of him in a framed mirror? If so where are we, the viewer, in the image?
The technique of this painting also draws upon the work of Édouard Manet: See another reflection in Manet’s The Folies-Bergère. The painting was Manet’s last major work. It represents the bustling interior of one of the most prominent music halls in Paris. The figures in the painting are entirely reflected in the mirror.
Merit Award: Four Black Hats
This still-life is a wonderful example of simple shapes and tones combined to form a perfect composition. Notice the use of four basic elements in the image. Four, (an even number) is a difficult number to make work in a composition. The artist arranges the space using single neutral tones, beautifully drawing upon techniques of 19th century masters and becomes a “visual bandit,” sharing her world and favorite beautiful objects.
This piece draws upon techniques of Giorgio Morandi (July 20, 1890 – June 18, 1964), an Italian painter who specialized in still-life. His paintings are noted for their tonal subtlety in depicting apparently simple subjects. It also brings to mind work of Wayne Thiebaud (November 15, 1920—present), an American painter known for his works depicting commonplace objects.
Honorable Mention: Nightlight
This color pencil drawing of a child at work may make you think of someone in your own home settling in with schoolwork in these socially distanced days. The artist skillfully draws the viewer’s gaze to her subject’s eyes, and then takes us on a trip through the composition using light, color and shapes. When you first glance at the drawing your eyes go to the child’s face because of the light large space caused by the computer’s brightness. Next our gaze is drawn to the colorful design on the girl’s shirt and then to the same colorful design repeated on computer screen. Then we notice the four round shapes of the stuffed toy’s feet in the front right. The animal’s eyes repeat these round shapes bringing you back to where you started …. the child’s eyes. What a fun trip!
Honorable Mention: Ascending to New Heights
This acrylic painting offers a different view of a typical landscape. Using basically only two colors this landscape creates clouds that form mountains, snow caped peaks, and waves. There is a hint of yellow sneaking in on the left side, offering warmth and suggesting the location of the sun. We may have seen a view like this from a plane window. This painting offers the viewer the same beautiful view without the price of a ticket!
Honorable Mention: Let’s Be Blunt
Packaging, ribbon, paper and wire are used to create this exciting neckpiece. The wearer will really need to know who they are to wear this multi-material piece. The black and gold is simpler on top and then slowly turns to beautifully toned rainbow cubes towards the bottom.
WOW WOW WOW .
Honorable Mention: Confined Gloaming
This color pencil drawing commingles nature with technology. The artist suggests a disconnect occurring in our world between the two. Thin vertical lines vary in thickness and create a barrier to what may be a sunset of sunrise. This is a piece I would like to study, to see how the lines are created and why they appear to shine. This contrast between the structural line in the foreground and soft organic forms in the background creates a magical landscape
Honorable Mention: Celeste
This acrylic, resin and gold leaf painting reminds me of home (Honolulu). The beautiful
“Haku” (Natural wrapped head piece) is worn at times of celebration in many cultures. The background is split in half vertically with an ethnic geometric print on the left and simple neutral texture on the right. The use of blue on the subject’s brown skin lights up the entire face. The artist surrounds the orange berries with blue, making the spheres jump off the page as the two complimentary colors (orange and blue) fight and accentuate each other. Stars glitter from the young girl’s ears and her eyes shine like a bride’s—the most beautiful young woman of the moment.
In my role as artist-juror, I initially choose pieces that I have a strong aesthetic response to at first glance. This helped me to narrow the collection of 450 entries to the 75 pieces you will see in the show. I was then tasked to choose eight award-winning pieces, one best of show, two merit awards and five honorable mentions.
In the first process there were many pieces that were very good, demonstrating merit and skill that did not make the cut. Deciding was not easy. Demonstration of technical skill was abundant, but that is not the only thing that counts. In my view, we learn to draw and paint to see line, shape, and color. Sculpture, fiber arts, and ceramics teach us to engage with and understand the language of form, texture, and space. It usually helps to build a strong visual framework, but most importantly the artist uses all the creative forms as channels through which she gives sensory expression to idea or experience; to make the intangible tangible.
What am I looking for when jurying an art show? What makes artistic merit? I look for some combination of the following:
It is also worth mentioning that my approach is not to simply to find and select works that I “like”, or that meet my taste. There were pieces I eliminated that I liked, and pieces that were included that do not suit my taste or preferences in art. The thing I felt all entries possessed was artistic merit.
I want to congratulate everyone who to submitted works. It was my honor to jury the show and select the award winners.
Good luck to you all.