A decades-long tradition, the Lyndon House Arts Center’s “44th Juried Exhibition” celebrates the local art community’s wide range of talents with a showcase that includes everything from painting, printmaking and photography to collage, sculpture and fiber art. The LHAC invites a different guest juror to select the works each year, ensuring that submissions from Athens-area artists, many of whom may be immediately recognizable to other locals, are fairly reviewed through a discerning outsider’s perspective.
In an increasingly digitized world, where photographs of artwork could have been evaluated remotely by a juror, it’s significant that the LHAC chooses to maintain its old-school method of requiring all submissions to be physically dropped off for consideration. The ability of the juror to experience the artwork more fully in terms of dimension, texture and other subtleties greatly influences the show’s diversity.
This year’s juror was Lauren Haynes, the curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR. A specialist in African-American contemporary art, she spent nearly a decade working at The Studio Museum in Harlem. During her two-day visit to Athens in January, she reviewed an astounding 767 pieces of work submitted by 309 artists, whittling the pool down to an impressive 160 works from 130 artists.
While it’s tempting—perhaps even seemingly obvious—to pass off any juried exhibition as a “best of” talent show, there are often more intricate inner workings happening in the juror’s brain. Looking beyond mere skill level, Haynes sought works that were engaging and unique, and that had the potential to resonate with the audience. With such a large pool of submissions, there was also an opportunity to present larger narratives or emphasize certain themes or qualities. This is to say, if you fall in the majority of unselected artists, it’s not a matter of not being “good enough”—her curatorial intuition may have simply led her down a different path.
Overall, the exhibition contains a noticeably high frequency of portraits and figurative works. In a way, it feels as if all of the faces gazing down from the walls are stand-ins for the artists themselves, reflecting how different each is from the next. A range of emotions are displayed, from Kate Windley’s “Inner Worlds,” a repeating silkscreen pattern of a woman hiding her face in her hands, to Laura Floyd’s “Ms Eleanor and her sisters and aunt,” a group of friendly, gentle-looking women.
Many works that lack a face still seem to reflect the presence of humans. Jacob Wenzka’s “Ecumenopoli Phases 1–8” appear as small, 360-degree metropolises, and Margaret Morrison’s larger-than-life oil painting, “Keramikos,” is a mesmerizing array of stacks of saucers, teacups and pitchers.
Every Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in April, Gallery Talks will be held for select groups of artists to elaborate on their experiences and practices. The lineup includes Megan Sparks, Paula Runyon, Margaret Morrison and Kim Truesdale on Apr. 4; Leah McKellop and Cody Matthews on Apr. 11; Kate Windley and Eli Saragoussi on Apr. 18; and Sharon Franco, Gerald Alderman, Laura Coston-Anrud and Amy Rosemund on Apr. 25. The 44th Juried Exhibition will remain on view through Friday, May. 3.
On view in the Lounge Gallery, a space dedicated to quarterly solo exhibitions by emerging artists, “Plastic Bodies: River Tributes” shares photographs documenting two site-specific performances by Abigail West. Currently a senior undergraduate student focusing on printmaking and book arts at UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, West also manages reclamation projects for the UGA Office of Sustainability. As an interdisciplinary artist and activist, she uses artwork as a vehicle to communicate messages and raise awareness on environmental issues.
A specific interest of West’s is how to creatively repurpose discarded, hard-to-recycle objects destined for landfills into new materials. Throughout the exhibition’s photographs, the artist appears to be reflecting near bodies of water while wearing two distinct costumes constructed from potato-chip bags. The first consists of long metallic streamers that flow gently in the water’s current, while the second covers her body in circular silver sequins, not unlike the scales of a fish. She demonstrates how waste can be transformed into something else of value, and challenges viewers to consider sustainable practices as well as the relationship between water and plastics.
West will offer a 3Thurs Gallery Talk to discuss her ideas and creative process on Thursday, Mar. 21 at 6 p.m. Additionally, she will help lead a youth workshop called “Art With Recycled Materials” alongside Made Bayak, a visiting artist from Bali, Indonesia who has an upcoming exhibition at ATHICA, on Thursday, Apr. 4 at 5:30 p.m. “Plastic Bodies: River Tributes” will remain on view through Saturday, June 1.