Art is more than just a painting on the wall; it tells a story, a tiny peek into the soul of its creator, the artist. It is through the medium of creation, be it through a painting or one of thousands of other ways, that an artist conveys a story, one that they know all too well that they wish to share with others, expressing it in a format that will help to tell that story. Art, contrary to what initially comes to mind, like a famous painting or a marble sculpture, is not limited in the mediums in which it can be expressed. This fact is further proven by the Hope art students that contributed their works to the Juried Student Show, now proudly displayed in DePree Art Gallery, open to the public from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7. For the non-art-savvy everyday human, the phrase “juried art show” may be a little confusing.
Essentially, artists submit their works to another person, the juror, who is usually an artist or curator. They have certain interests and issues that inspire their specific style, and they can use that to set the standard for what they look for in the pieces submitted to them. From there, the juror will select works that fit their theme the best and really convey what they want within the exhibition. The selected works are then displayed in an art show. That being said, for this exhibition, the juror is Patrick Earl Hammie, an associate professor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His work has been exhibited in galleries both domestically and abroad. He has garnered awards such as Puffin Foundation Award and the Arnold O. Beckman Research Award from the University of Illinois. He has even been named by the International Review of African American Art as an “Artist to Watch.” Much of his work centers around ideas of social and cultural identities and the body.
Largely, it focuses on telling stories around these different ideas. From this knowledge of the juror, the work presented in this exhibit can be better understood. Hope students submitted their pieces to him from which he selected those which center on ideas of identity, which could be anything from an artist’s hometown, work ethic, religion, cultural background; the possibilities are endless. Of the works displayed, the mediums used are widely varied from textile, fabric and yarn; digital photographs and hot glue; video and sound; and paint on canvas, just to name a few. It is riveting to see how each artist represents themselves through their chosen medium. Their art removes their physical appearance and replaces them with representations of their values, identities and sentiments, giving a far more complete idea of who each of them really is beyond their physical selves.
Each of these works are standout pieces that can be shocking and call all those who see them to reflect: what does each piece show, and where do I fit within its context? Even though it may be hard to see yourself directly related to each work, everyone can find at least one piece within the exhibit that speaks to them. “Critic’s Choice” by Bri Derfiny relates to so many people who have wanted to hide pieces of themselves from public view. We have all decided not to post or tell about parts of our lives that we deem unworthy or not quite perfect enough to share to others. “Entre Nosotras” by Cherish Joe invokes a feeling of comfort, knowing that we may be different from others in terms of background, but we all have something that connects us with others, and we should not sever ties with those, despite how contemporary culture may tell us to. Individually these pieces are strong, but it is the fact that so many students have unique stories and perspectives to share that makes this exhibit a force to be reckoned with. It is a celebration of what makes each person unique, yet capable of connecting with others over shared experience.