This past Sunday was the third and final talk in the State Museum’s Artist Conversations series in conjunction with the Art of the State exhibition. Even though it had been moved from the previous Sunday due to the extensive flooding in Harrisburg there was quite a turnout. Unfortunately, I was a little late and missed the first 5 or 10 min of the lecture.
What I did hear was pretty interesting. The First Prize winner in Photography, Lydia Panas (who was also in the Adjacencies exhibit last year with me) spoke about her photograph, Figs, and then the awards juror, Ricardo Viera, elaborated on what drew him to the piece. We all then went around and looked at some of the other award winners and spoke about their strengths.
There were a couple of things that really struck me during the talk. One was when Lydia spoke about choosing subject matter. We were looking at Sickelm’s Eye, one of my favorite paintings in the exhibit and she said that artists have to edit the world out. That really hit me because it’s not just choosing how much detail to put into a piece, it’s not just the framing, but that we have everything in the world as potential subject matter. We as artists have to whittle that enormity down to our finished piece.
The second thing that struck me was how sometimes a big deal can be made about a nonexistant slight or problem. When we went to Drew Zimmerman’s piece which won third place in the craft category (remember his comments in the original Artists Conversations post?) nI realized something about its choosing. Ricardo didn’t go through each category and say, “which photograph is the best representative of photography? Which piece best represents the category of craft?” I asked him and he explained that he chose works that spoke to him personally and then they received 3rd place in craft or 2nd place in painting only because that’s what category they were submitted in. He told me that he didn’t separate craft out, that everything in the exhibition was art. It’s funny because sometimes people will get hung up on what works get chosen and think that it’s making a commentary on the state of fine craft. That’s why it was great to be able to listen to and ask questions of the juror himself.
The Artists Conversations series was wonderful and it really helped to open up different aspects of the Art of the State exhibition. I was happy to hear that they are planning on doing it again during next year’s exhibition. I definitely am glad that I went to all of them and I plan on visiting more artist talks in the future. I suggest you find some in your own area to check out. It can really change your perspective on art.