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The Arts Scene

The Natural World: A Postmodern Perspective

Kathryn Franke
MSM Class of 2013

(1/2013) Itís been a few months since Iíve updated you about the status of the national juried art show that I am planning along with a fellow student here at Mount St. Maryís University, but how quickly time seems to have flown since we began our project! The amount that we have accomplished in the past few months has helped us gain a strong appreciation for the time and hard work that goes into planning gallery shows such as the one that we have in store for you later this month.

Teresa Fredericks and I have made much progress in the past few months. Since we last updated you on our progress, we have accomplished many things that have really taken us far along in the process of executing the gallery show. After posting the Call for Entries around downtown Frederick, we sent the information along to the following institutions: Art Deadline, Maryland Art Place, Washington Calligraphers Guild, Hanover Area Arts Guild, Prigel Family Creamery, Boordy Vineyards, Adams County Arts Council, Carroll County Arts Council, Maryland State Arts Council, Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Art Works, Harford Artistsí Gallery/The Harford Artistsí Association, Inc., Harford County Cultural Arts Board, Fine Art America, and Art Along the Rappahannock River. We wanted to be sure that we reached a wide audience and collected entries from across the nation, so networking the information was vital to the success of the show.

After advertising the show and posting the Call for Entries on Art Deadline, we began fielding entries for the show. Artists were able to submit works until November 12, 2012. In total, we received entries from 25 different artists from across the nation, with a total of 70 individual works of art that were submitted, since each artist was able to submit up to three works after paying their entry fee. The breadth of the entries that we received was refreshing and inspirational. It was fascinating to see how such a general theme ("The Natural World: A Postmodern Perspective") could be interpreted in countless different ways, which was ultimately one of the goals we had hoped to reach upon choosing this theme.

Once the deadline for entries had passed, the jurying process began. The two of us met to discuss our first impressions about the artwork and which ones we thought should be included, and we were able to come up with a tentative list of accepted works that we later discussed with our faculty advisor, Professor Holtry. During the jurying process, we decided to focus on fewer artists and showcase more of their work because we felt that those works best represented our theme and because the show would then be more cohesive.

We were lucky enough to receive entries from artists all across the nation, and it just so happens that each of the artists who will be represented in the gallery show are from different states. The artists who will be showcasing their works in "The Natural World: A Postmodern Perspective" are: Erin Harmon of Tennessee, John Hancock of Virginia, Kay Knight of Wisconsin, Marc Leone of Kentucky, Nathan Taves of Indiana, and Megan Weikel of Pennsylvania.

Regarding the artistsí work, Teresa added, "The artists each take such a unique response to the theme, and yet they each contribute to a larger theme. That's why we chose the work we did, because it all complemented each and every work both aesthetically and thematically. Visually it's going to make a lot of sense, but it's also very avant-garde and, well, postmodern! I think people will get a lot from this show if they keep an open mind." We noticed that there seems to be a progression within the works, because as a whole they go from a very simplistic perspective to a very abstract perspective. We feel that this natural progression will help the viewer get a complete aesthetic sense of each artistís approach to the theme and to the natural world itself.

Our next task was to select a work as "Best in Show," and you can find out which work was chosen if you come to the show! We feel that the piece we chose for this honor portrays our theme well and is a dramatic, aesthetically pleasing piece that represents what we had hoped to accomplish by executing a show with this theme. This unique piece struck us with its style and intricacy.

After finalizing the list of accepted works, we notified the artists either by phone or email, depending on their preferred means of communication. All of the artists have verified their availability and participation, and have confirmed that they will ship their artwork to us to be included in the show later this month.

When the task of selecting the works for the show was completed, we then had to design the exhibition layout. Using a template of the gallery dimensions, we planned out which pieces should go where in the gallery to ensure that the show will be cohesive and have a natural flow for viewers as they move about the space. After completing multiple drafts to find the best fit, we finally reached a design that we felt will complement the show the best. We placed each artistís works next to each other so that the viewer could see the different styles and aesthetics of each artist, yet as a whole we arranged the works in a way that will showcase each piece as an individual reflection of the theme of the show. We will make adjustments to the layout as needed, but we feel confident that we have designed a very cohesive layout that will make the individual pieces also work well as a whole.

Using Adobe InDesign, we created flyers and designed the layout of a show card and an eight-page spread booklet, which have been printed for the show in collaboration with Valley Graphic Service, Inc. The eight-page catalogue highlights the works and artist statements of the selected entrants. Additionally, the catalogue will feature a collaborative essay describing the overall technical and conceptual relationships between the works that will be exhibited in the show. The essay will concentrate on analyzing the ways in which the works express the overall theme of the show.

As the details of the show begin to fall into place, it has been very rewarding for us to look back on the planning process. Teresa named the opportunity work with such talented artists as the most fulfilling part of the process to her. She explained, "I really feel so blessed, so privileged, that the work we are showing is so phenomenal. It's better than I ever could've imagined."

Itís been amazing to discover just how much really goes into planning a show like this, but itís been even more amazing to realize how much fun that planning can be! Teresa and I have learned so much as a result of this gallery show, and we cannot wait for others to share in the beauty of the work we have received.

The process of planning this show has benefitted both of us in many ways. Teresa has always been interested in "the behind-the-scenes work of the art world." She explained, "Both the socially conscious theme and the planning of this show have really cemented my interest in arts administration. I want a job where I can work with artists in the same theoretical way we've done with this show, in developing concepts; I want a job where I can reach a wider audience and inspire people, like we've done here with the actual exhibit plan. I feel like art has such a capacity to affect change, and this show, for me, is a small step toward environmental consciousness."

This show has been such a rewarding experience because it has opened up so many new opportunities. This project has helped us develop our skills in event planning, criticism, collaborative design, printing and publication, graphic and web design, budgeting, marketing, journalism, social media, networking, and interpersonal communication. Who knew so much could be crammed into planning a single event? As a Fine Arts and Communication Studies major, I used to believe that my options were somewhat limited when it came to career opportunities. Planning this gallery show has made me realize that there are countless ways in which I can apply my majors, and these skills that I have developed will help me in any path I may pursue.

Planning this show with Teresa is proof of the impact that hard work, passion, and creativity can have. Teresa and I have always shared a love for art, and together we have been able to combine our talents to plan a large-scale, national event here at Mount St. Maryís University. It has been an honor to work on this project with Teresa, and I could not think of a better way to collaborate using both our individual and shared interests and skills. This project has allowed us to combine efforts using the common thread of passion for art and awareness that art can have a large impact on ourselves and on society.

We invite you all to attend "The Natural World: A Postmodern Perspective" and share in this event with us. The show will be held in the Williams Gallery, located within the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center at Mount St. Maryís University. It will open on Tuesday, January 22nd and will be up until Friday, February 22nd. There will be a reception on Thursday, January 24th from 5-7 p.m. During the month of the show, you will be able to visit during gallery hours (Monday/Wednesday/Friday: 9-3 p.m. or Tuesday/Thursday: 10-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m.) or by appointment.

All are welcome to attend! We would love to be able to share this beautiful artwork with as many people as possible, so be sure to stop by! Who knows, maybe your eyes will be opened to a new perspective on the natural world. I know mine have!

Read other articles on the local arts scene by Kathryn Franke