Contemporary 2017: Retellings

May 12 – June 24
Sponsored by Steve & Sharmaine Hillard
First Friday reception June 2, 7-9pm
Juror workshops: Saturday, June 3, 10am-12pm and 1-5pm
Juror lecture: Saturday, June 3 at 6pm

The Art Center’s national, juried biennial is an opportunity to showcase emerging and established artists from all nooks and crannies of the country. This year’s juror is Gabriela Martinez, Curator of Education at the Museum of Latin American Art in Los Angeles, California. Out of 212 entries she chose 44, making Retellings our most competitive juried show to date. Her selection represents artists from 23 cities and 12 states. The exhibition will also feature work by Martinez and invited artists Sheila Rodriguez (Long Beach, CA), Silvya Manquero (Los Angeles, CA), Stephanie Mercado (Los Angeles, CA), Raúl Gonzalez (Boston, MA), and Rogelio Gutierrez (Tempe, AZ).

The directive for submitting artists was to utilize “traditional materials, processes, and/or narratives in new and innovative ways,” to enter “work that engages histories, memories, or media which may at one point have been dismissed or ignored.” Martinez writes: “In selecting the works for Retellings, my aim was to create a selection of relatively balanced works that adhered to a somewhat vague and purposefully open submission criteria. I was specifically looking for works of various media that reflected (to me) the concepts of play and discovery, the acts of revealing or concealing (or sometimes doing both), of storytelling or reinterpretation. I had to hope that this intention hadn’t been lost in translation. And I had to make these selections based on very minimal information, as I was not aware of the artists’ names, location, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other markers of identity. As someone who is highly aware of my own multiplicitous identity and who works at an institution that is centered around issues of location, ethnicity, history and colonization, this was a way of looking at art to which I had become unaccustomed.

“The process was challenging but gratifying and a wonderful learning experience. While I always try to be aware of my inherent and learned biases, selecting works in this veiled method forced me to really examine my immediate responses (both positive and negative) to certain images and objects. For example, was I responding in a particular way to a certain piece because it reminded me of the work of another artist? And was this okay? Where did this fall on the imagined objectivity spectrum that we assign to those in positions of cultural authority?

“The ‘magic’ or mystery of art—that intangible something that makes it so effective yet also so frustrating and even controversial at times—is that it relies on a language that is purposefully open to interpretation. Symbols, colors, objects, take on meaning depending on who utilizes them and who later ‘reads’ them. The works that I selected for Retellings exemplified this aspect of art for me.”

Eighty-six artists submitted and 32 had work chosen. They are: Mary Ellen Andrews, Brandin Barón, Khara Cloutier, Brian Colley, Barbara Crawford, Nayda Cuevas, Staci Dickerson, Marcelle Marie Dupay, Daniel Fleming, Heather Foster, Ron Geibel, Penelope Greenwell, Susan Harmon, Gary Hauschulz, Shelley Hull, Vieno James, Dan Jian, Kate Keaney, Charmaine Koh, Bri Lamkin, Hayden Lilly Daiber, Mary Mansfield, Zahra Marwan, Martha McCoy, Jennifer Nelson, Tony Ortega, Sandra Perlow, Benjamin Timpson, Ruby Troup, Mark Tyler Graham, H.L. Weber, and Gabriela Yoque.

Image: Zahra Marwan, Writing Poetry

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