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-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!
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.
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.
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.
“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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