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The Arts Scene

National juried art show at the Mount

Kathryn Franke
MSM Class of 2013

(10/2012) Well, the culmination of my time here at the Mount is finally upon me. The Honors Project has made its debut. I remember hearing about it when I entered the Honors Program my freshman year, but I had so much time before I had to worry about that. I thought to myself, "I can put that on the backburner for a while. Right?"

I found out the hard way that people aren’t kidding when they say that these four college years go by quickly. The next thing I knew, the deadline was quickly approaching for our Initial Proposals for our projects.

I was lucky enough to be approached by fellow classmate and art major Teresa Fredericks, who asked me if I would like to propose a collaborative project to the Honors Committee. This had never been done before in the Honors Program, so it was something that we had to put a lot of planning into so that we could get approval to work together. We had to determine which tasks we would do individually and which we would do together, the grading scale, and the overall calendar that we will follow throughout the year.

So, what is this project that we have been working so hard on? Drumroll please…

Through a collaborative planning, jurying, and marketing process, we will be hosting a thematic national juried art show right here at the Mount in the beginning of the 2013 spring semester. You will be able to see the fruit of our labor! The show will be titled, "The Natural World: A Postmodern Perspective," and it will contain a variety of art inspired by the natural world that draws attention to the beauty of nature and its relevance to our lives, both socially and artistically. The show is expected to be up starting on January 22, 2013 and will remain open to the public during gallery hours until February 22, 2013.

Teresa and I both share a very strong passion for art, and together, along with the help of our seasoned exhibition planner and advisor, Professor Elizabeth Holtry, I think we will be able to plan and execute a spectacular event. As we progress with the project, it is amazing to see how much the planning process for a juried show like the one we are planning actually involves.

Deciding on a general theme for the show involved a lot of brainstorming between the two of us, but we easily settled on the theme of the natural world because both of us have such a strong connection to it. Teresa has the unique ability to find meaning in absolutely any aspect of nature through her art, and I could easily walk around for hours while drawing, painting, or photographing things in nature that most people would walk right past without even a second glance.

Regarding the theme of the show, Teresa added, "I think this theme will really play to both of our strengths as artists. Kathryn is a photo-realist who pays very close attention to the smallest details in nature - think Chuck Close meets Georgia O'Keeffe. I tend to gravitate toward contemporary, sculptural, socially aware art. Andy Goldsworthy, Wolfgang Laib, Martin Puryear, Kiki Smith, Sally Mann, Ryan McGinley - so many of my favorite artists draw deeply from the inspirations of the natural world. So, I think our different interests will make for a fabulously varied show."

We also wanted to be sure that the theme was broad enough that artists can take their own approach and make their artwork truly representative of their own perspective. Because we will be advertising our "Call for Entries" nationally through the use of Art Deadline and several other art publications, we have to be sure that we will get a response from as many areas as possible. Name one place that doesn’t have some sort of connection to the natural world…voilB! The perfect theme for artists of any kind.

The next series of steps in the planning process is where things got slightly complicated. There were so many things that we had to take care of and plan ahead for to be sure that the event will run smoothly and be a success. Regarding the planning process, Teresa explained, "It's the sort of thing you don't think about - all the small yet important bits of information that need to be definitively ironed out before anything else gets done. In preparing for this show, I think clarity and publicity are key. Clarity because we need to make sure that our guidelines are feasible yet comprehensive, and publicity because that's the way we get entries! In light of those things though, it's also important to keep the end in mind while also just taking it one day at a time, otherwise it's easy to feel overwhelmed!"

Along with the "Call for Entries," we will be marketing the event through a variety of communication strategies with the goal of increasing the number of submissions we receive and the general public interest in the event. Together, Teresa and I had to work with a variety of offices on campus in order to create an email account to which the photographs of the entries can be submitted, an online payment account for the artists’ entry fees, and a webpage on which we can post entry guidelines and any other general information that the artists or the public may need to know about the exhibition prior to its opening.

Each artist is allowed to submit up to three works of art for entry into the show, and based on regional juried show estimates, we expect roughly 200 entries. After the deadline for submissions has passed, we will choose which works will be a part of the show with the guidance of our faculty mentor. When selecting the works for the show, we will be judging based on criteria such as size limitations, relevance to the theme and approach to the subject matter, overall aesthetic appeal, and technical skill.

We will design show-cards to be distributed to faculty, staff, art classes here at the Mount, and the surrounding community. We will visit regional galleries to reach out to the local art community for submissions and also for attendance at the event. In addition, flyers and emails will be used to target the Mount community more specifically. We created a Facebook page and a Pinterest account for the event, where we will post updates and any important information that may come up throughout the planning process.

I personally will be sending press releases to local newspapers and handling much of the marketing for the event, while Teresa will be keeping a blog throughout the planning stages so that she can document the process and supplement the show with interesting facts, works, and insight about the art world relevant to our theme and project. We hope to work with the Frederick Arts Council, the Frederick County Arts Association, and the Adams County Arts Council to spread the word through those organizations, as well.

Each of us will write an essay to be included in the printed catalogue that will accompany the show upon its opening. The catalogue will include discussion of the gallery’s theme, images of the works that were accepted, along with identifying information, and the critical essays that each of us will write. The essays will be academic analyses of the works in the exhibition, and they will discuss topics such as theme and theory with the goal of fostering a deeper understanding of the artwork.

Once we select the artwork for the show, the artists will ship their work to us so that we can determine the design of the gallery and hang the work. Specific tasks include lighting, labeling the work, and spacing the pieces. Our exhibit will be the first show of the 2013 spring semester for the Mount, and a reception will be held shortly after the exhibit is opened. We hope to have an informal gallery talk to share our thoughts about the process.

But as they say, the show must go on! Even after the exhibit is over, there are many things to take care of. After the exhibit ends, we must deconstruct and repair the gallery space and also ship the artwork back to the artists. We, of course, will be documenting the entire process through social media, blogging, photographs, journals, and reflections for the purposes of our presentation at the Honors Program’s annual SPARC (Scholarship, Performance, Art, Research, and Creativity) festival, which will be from April 23-25, 2013. Our presentation will involve explaining and reflecting on the process and the success of the juried competition.

Needless to say, the project involves a lot of planning, but all of our hard work will pay off. This event will be something huge for the Mount. Having a national gallery show such as this one in our small town of Emmitsburg will not only give artists across the country the chance to display their work, but also enrich the community with a more complete knowledge, understanding, and awareness of both the natural world and the art world.

For Teresa, this project gives her a taste of what her career might be like when she enters the work force. She explained, "I hope to gain a glimpse into a dimension of the art world. Being a part of that is what I've always wanted, and I can only hope it can serve as a springboard for even greater things to come. I'm so grateful to have found my niche though - gallery work is truly what I love and want to pursue professionally."

This experience has already been one of the most fulfilling projects I have ever taken on here at the Mount, and we still have so much more to look forward to! I am really looking forward to working with Teresa to help bring a larger art presence to our area and foster a greater awareness of and reflection on the world in which we live. Teresa’s goal with this project is a perfect example of what this project really means to both of us. "I want people to truly take something away from what we end up organizing, and I want to be standing there on the opening day of the exhibit, thoughtfully engaging gallery visitors about the pieces we've come to know through this process."

There is so much to be seen in the natural world that we so easily overlook. We each have a unique way of looking at the world around us, and we each have our own opinions about it, as well. Our gallery exhibit will give insight into these theories as we draw from artists across the country and their own individual perspectives. We will keep you posted on our progress, but in the meantime, be on the lookout for our marketing outlets and spread the word to family and friends! We hope to see you in January when the exhibit opens!

Read other articles on the local arts scene by Kathryn Franke