By Louise A. Palermo
Curator of Education
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.
Searching for Beauty: Artists Views through the Lens of 2020/2021 will be exhibited through July 18 in the museum’s M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Education Center. You can also see the full exhibition online here. A Virtual Reception with the artists will take place Thursday, June 10 at 5 p.m. (PDT).REGISTER FOR VIRTUAL RECEPTION
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. She went on to open her own studio, the Aristides 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.
Says 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.
BEST IN SHOW: Self-Portrait by Maria Huang
FIRST PLACE: United We Stand by Leslie Kiesler
SECOND PLACE: Fade to Black by John Rizzotto
THIRD PLACE: Alison by Will Dargie
Curator of Education’s Choice: Self-Portrait Contemplating Infinity by Josh Langstaff
Self-portraits were a necessary subject. Huang’s Self-Portrait 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 may take that subject in counter point. She says: “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 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.