The value of a national competition in a city the size of Fayetteville or on the campus of a college or university is the chance to see what artists are doing from around the country. In one gallery, you can see what an artist in New York, New Jersey or Idaho is doing and what kinds of mediums people are using to express their ideas.
It took the leadership of Seán McDaniel , chairman of the Fine Arts Department at Fayetteville Technical Community College, to undertake and host a national competition for the FTCC Gallery and the community.
Knowing how much work it takes to be an instructor, artist and chairman of a department, I wondered why he would he undertake the task. He was succinct in his answer.
“The competition provides our students and viewing community the access to works created by artists from a broader spectrum and enhances the educational experience,” he said. “Both are the goals of FTCC. I also wanted to expand the exhibition possibilities of the FTCC Gallery so there would be more exhibition opportunities in Fayetteville/Cumberland County and the region.”
He also shared how pleased he was with the response from artists and “how it was interesting to be on the coordinating side instead of being an artist entered an exhibit.” The juror selected 16 works from the more than 100 works submitted. The exhibit represents artists from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Idaho, Florida, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.
He continued, “This has been a great learning experience for me. Having participated, as an artist, in hundreds of competitions, I certainly appreciate the opportunities much more! The reception is scheduled before 4th Friday starts in the downtown area, so I hope people will show their support by stopping by the FTCC Art Gallery on Feb. 26th before going downtown that evening. You just start the night-out a little earlier.”
No small task to coordinate a national competition, the results is an exhibit ﬁ lled with a variety of subjects and approaches to working in the visual arts. The following prevalent themes seem to run throughout the exhibition: investigating or interpreting nature, abstraction as solace and exploring issues identity.
The abstract acrylic painting by Elizabeth Leal from Greensboro, N.C., immediately draws attention to itself. Her large painting is minimal in style and limited in color — predominately blue. No reference to the nature we see around us, her painting titled From Matter to Spirit brings us to a nonverbal moment, a moment without visual distraction and commotion — abstraction as solace.
The photographs by Trinity Sullivan from Idaho Falls, Idaho, are also evidence of using abstraction to evoke contemplation. In her photograph titled Sky of Zeus, the artist has taken a close-up photograph of painted metal, the upper half of the image is simply off white, the lower half resembling a blue and white sky. Two jagged, diagonal lines of rust cross the two sections, the title suggests an action by an ancient, mythic Sky God.
In the works of several of the artists, the theme of identity uniﬁ ed their work in purpose. Lovell Pulley, an artist from Spring Hope, N.C., challenges our perceptions about racial stereotypes.
Using a very limited palette of black, gray and red, Pulley challenges the racial self-stereotyping from within the African-American community. In his computer graphic work titled The Uncle Tometer, Pulley has created a barren ﬂ at background of gray pebbled texture. On the left side of the image is a thermometer with the red mercury rising after passing phrases like “listening to more than black music, arriving on time, having a large vocabulary, not an avid eater of soul food” and at the top is “dating outside the race.”
TH Gomillion from Washington, D.C., celebrates the African heritage in his casted bronze portrait titled We Are. Mounted on a piece of polished marble, Gomillion’s portrait includes the details of a traditional African male style of adorning oneself. Gomillion’s portrait evokes the presence of ancestry.
Kendra Sumler from Fayetteville, explores the identity of a young woman in the medium of computer graphics. Works titled Pieces of Me and Forced Identity portray the same individual in a collage-like composition. The same individual is portrayed as having a series of expressions. The expressions seem to question, challenge and are often ﬁ lled with angst.
The ceramic forms by Amanda Small from Chapel Hill, N.C., are poetic in their low ﬁ red, oozy, abstract forms. Her work titled Genesis appears to be an interpretation of the beginning of life. Instead of the Garden of Eden, Genesis appears as a beautifully poetic gnarl of pea-like pods emerging from or into a form with tentacles. The grace of the form and use of earth colors reinforces the idea of birth or a beginning.
While Small encourages the viewer to see nature through a new lens, Shane Booth, of Fayetteville, exhibited a print from his new body of work. Instead of using himself as the model, he has switched to bulls!
In Booth’s work, the lone human ﬁ gure has been replaced by a lone bull. The photograph is in high contrast, black and white. The dark bull ﬁ lls the picture frame, off center. We see the bull from an angle beneath the massive animal. The bull’s wet nose drips from the shiny rich blackness of the form against a stark landscape. Booth’s photograph evokes strength and will without being romantic or idealized. The strength and resolve of the image mesmerizes you.
There are many more works to examine in the 1st Annual Juried Exhibition at FTCC’s Art Gallery. The juror for the competition was Chuck Lawson, a new instructor in the ﬁ ne art program at FTCC. Lawson will address his selection for the exhibit during the opening, Feb. 26(4th Friday) between 5-7 p.m. in Gallery 366A, Cumberland Hall on the campus of FTCC.
If you are not able to get to the opening reception, the exhibit remains up until March 12. For gallery hours or information on the exhibit call Seán McDaniel at 910- 678-0042 or email him at email@example.com.