History Recorded: How Artists Respond to “2020”

Searching For Beauty: Artists Views through the Lens of 2020/2021
By Louise A. Palermo, Curator of Education, Maryhill Museum of Art

The COVID Pandemic’s icy fingers reached into every institution worldwide…even Museums and Art Schools. Quickly we had to rethink learning, seeing, making, and sharing. All these months later, there is a light at the end of this challenging tunnel and artist’s views of this time are revealed through pigment on canvas.

Self. Family. Space. Light. Mythology. Love. Death. Patriotism. These concepts are explored and reflected in this year’s collaboration between Juliette Aristides Atelier at Gage Academy in Seattle and Maryhill Museum of Art, on view in the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Education Center. “Searching for Beauty: Artists Views through the Lens of 2020/2021” will be exhibited through July 18, 2021.

This collaboration began several years ago to highlight the continuation of the Master Teacher-to-Student system of the atelier, unbroken for hundreds of years. Juliette Aristides was a student of this system through the Richard Lack Atelier (Lack is an artist well represented in the Maryhill Museum of Art collection) before she opened her own atelier in Seattle. Today, her students continue to teach Classical Realism through the ever-growing ripples of the atelier system.

Aristides asked Terri Jordan, Curator of the Customs House Museum in Clarksville, TN to jury the artwork submitted by her students. Said Jordan of her top four selections, “With each of these pieces, I could see what the artist was portraying even before reading their statements. While different, these works all had a strong sense of composition and form.” Additionally, Aristides requested the Curator of Education choose a piece for recognition.

Below are the selections:

self portrait painting
BEST IN SHOW: “Self-Portrait” by Maria Huang
Painting of the American flag
FIRST PLACE: “United We Stand” by Leslie Kiesler
Contemporary realism still life painting
SECOND PLACE: “Fade to Black” by John Rizzotto
Artists respond to 2020 - portrait of a woman in hospital
THIRD PLACE: “Alison” by Will Dargie
self portrait painting
Curator of Education’s Choice: “Self-Portrait Contemplating Infinity” by Josh Langstaff

Self-portraits were a necessary subject. Huang’s “Self-Portrait” (above) explores something a busy student and artist doesn’t always have time to explore…herself, through the smoke of current events. Other self-portraits explore what happens when faced with the inability to hire a model. Suddenly the artist themselves became wanderers, reflections, and infinite!

self portrait painting
“Self-Portrait as Wanderer” by Martijn Caspar Swart
self portrait painting
“Self-Portrait in a Pandemic” by Dominique Medici (painted on a mirror)

In these works of art, patriotism becomes multi-faceted. “Respect” by Charles Burt, a traditional kind of flag painting at first glance, reveals on closer inspection that respect is given, not taken, by the victor.

Painting of the American flag
“Respect” by Charles Burt

Kiesler’s award-winning version of patriotism, “United We Stand” (shown above), may take that subject in counter point. She states that “Our flag is a symbol, a representation of the United States of America, yet we are not united. The very fabric of what makes us call ourselves Americans is unraveling and continues to do so.”

Patriotism in other nearby paintings reflect protests, unrest, and disturbances that many of these artists could view from their own homes. Perspective is challenged and honored.

“Seattle 2020” by Mark Kang-O’Higgins
“Seattle 2020” by Mark Kang-O’Higgins

Throughout the pandemic, our surroundings, family, and often-viewed objects became subjects and, consequently, immortalized. You will find pets, rooms, and memories realized as compelling subjects. “Solitude” by Larine Chung, “Longing” by Grace Flott, and “My Unmade Bed” by Elizabeth Rosane are among the works that embody the toll isolation had on our spirit.

“Solitude” by Larine Chung
“Solitude” by Larine Chung
“Longing” by Grace Athena Flott
“Longing” by Grace Athena Flott
”My Unmade Bed” by Elizabeth Rosane
”My Unmade Bed” by Elizabeth Rosane

“Alison” (shown above) by Will Dargie is a moving painting of his mother as she lives out her life in a hospital with only the artist nearby, as family and friends were restricted.

In summary, artists have a way of reflecting society in a way that society has not yet realized. All in one room, the narratives will resonate with each of us as we recall our experiences over these last months. Artists searched for beauty in a less than beautiful time…and they brought that beauty to the walls of Maryhill Museum of Art. Come, and reflect with us.

Read some of the Artist Statements about these paintings at fineartconnoisseur.com.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. […] HISTORY RECORDED: HOW ARTISTS RESPONDED TO “2020.” In an abnormal yr, ArtsWatch makes it some extent to scoot out the Columbia Gorge shortly after the mid-April opening of the Maryhill Museum of Artwork to see what the brand new season’s dropped at the castle-like museum overlooking the river close to Goldendale, Wash. However as you will have observed, 2020 and 2021 haven’t been abnormal years. Right here it’s July and one of many season’s points of interest is nearly over already. Looking out For Magnificence: Artists Views by the Lens of 2020/2021, a collaboration between the museum and Seattle’s Juliette Aristides Atelier, closes July 18. Luckily, Louise A. Palermo, Maryhill’s curator of schooling, wrote about it for the journal website Realism Right this moment, and you’ll learn it on the hyperlink above – after which hop out the Gorge to see it within the flesh when you’re so moved. (The museum has loads of other good-looking special exhibits, too, most operating by mid-November.) The group present is about, loosely, “the COVID pandemic’s icy fingers,” and the way individuals have responded to it. It’s a subject as huge because the world itself. […]

  2. […] HISTORY RECORDED: HOW ARTISTS RESPONDED TO “2020.” In an ordinary year, ArtsWatch makes it a point to scoot out the Columbia Gorge shortly after the mid-April opening of the Maryhill Museum of Art to see what the new season’s brought to the castle-like museum overlooking the river near Goldendale, Wash. But as you may have noticed, 2020 and 2021 haven’t been ordinary years. Here it is July and one of the season’s attractions is almost over already. Searching For Beauty: Artists Views through the Lens of 2020/2021, a collaboration between the museum and Seattle’s Juliette Aristides Atelier, closes July 18. Fortunately, Louise A. Palermo, Maryhill’s curator of education, wrote about it for the magazine site Realism Today, and you can read it at the link above – and then hop out the Gorge to see it in the flesh if you’re so moved. (The museum has a lot of other good-looking special exhibits, too, most running through mid-November.) The group show is about, loosely, “the COVID pandemic’s icy fingers,” and how people have responded to it. It’s a topic as wide as the world itself. […]

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