We all have influences, some we are aware of, others acting silently. These forces move us around through life, pushing or pulling in a variety of directions endlessly. As artists, no matter what medium we work in, paint, poetry, video, dance, intermedia, we prize our creative individuality. And yet those forces still exert their pressures on us. As a young graduate student, working in my studio, I had an experience where Lucas Samaras stopped by to visit while at the University, lecturing on his work. He looked at what was on my easel briefly and commented; “If I were standing on the ledge of a window high above the ground and you showed me this work, would it stop me from jumping?” Criticism. Push. Pull.
We have all responded to calls where a juror is also curator of a major museum or a recognized artist. How do we respond to that? I have caught myself looking at the work the curator has selected in the past, and the artwork created by the artist for clues about whether my work might resonate for them, questioning what the chances are of acceptance if I submit to their judgement. How have you reacted? What if they havedefined a theme for the call? Will you make something special for it, pick something from your recent work that you believe fits, respond by sending whatever is next on your easel or the tip of your pen or perhaps pass on the call? Push. Pull.
In this call, I am asking that you bring it. I want to see what you treasure as your best example of your creative spark. I do not care when it was produced, or what medium used. I have no theme for you to filter with, no unifying structure defined for your consideration and only one caveat given to me by Didi after she polled the group: No figurative painting. So there is that. I suppose the reason for this rule is that we have had a lot of figurative art calls, so mixing it up a little is good. This should not be interpreted as a criterion that restricts subject matter from dealing with people or the human form. Just no figure painting.
So, with no curatorial theme, what am I looking for? You tell me. Show me. In editing this issue, the unifying factor will be defined by my decisions I need to maketo meet the challenge I face in selecting from what will be a large catalog of works submitted in a variety of mediums. I know the resulting publication, print or digital, will be gorgeous because I have already seen just how talented this group is. I do not want you to make something you think will fit, I want to see what you know is uniquely you. As for me, I will quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart; “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”
My reply to Samaras was something like; “I think it would make you jump.” Push. Pull.
- Jan Anders Nelson