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Frederick Gallery Juror: Joseph Di Bella May 2011



1st Place
Liminal Passing etching by Karla Hackenmiller of Athens, OH
Liminal Passing by Karla Hackenmiller

2nd Place
Fragments #35 (The Vera Suite) watercolor and color pencil drawing by Jackson Davis Titus of Coyle, OK
Fragments #35 by Jackson Davis Titus

3rd Place
Triumphal Return fiber art by Lorie McCown of Fredericksburg, VA
Triumphal Return by Lorie McCown

Honorable Mentions

The Frost Queen photograph by Jim Shirey of Athens, OH

Crescent Beach acrylic painting by Lois Schlachter of Spring Mt., PA

Remains: In the end all is memory, bone and myth archival ink-jet print by Suzanne Gonsales-Smith of Grandforks, ND

Lumina # 22 silver-gelatin print by Robert Greene of Richmond, VA

Juror's Statement

My immediate response to art depends on the work’s form and presentation. There must be some sense of the orchestration of elements of design, the language of visual organization, for me first to engage in a dialogue with the work. However, just “looking good” is not enough. The way a work entrances me through its form opens the door to learning about its content. Arriving at this is the completion of the assessment process.

Now, for this exhibition we have the theme “Abstraction.” What does abstraction mean? In its purest terms abstraction is the reduction and distillation of the physically perceived components of real objects. However, our sensibility about abstraction has changed over the past century. Non-objectivity, on the other hand, theoretically is not dependent on an antecedent from the seen world. It postulates its own reality. Abstraction and non-objectivity have become nearly synonymous terms in much contemporary art that is not fixed on representation based on common visual perception. Abstract art now can derive from the imagination, or it can be structural statements of form, orchestrated often with heightened awareness of shape, space and surface. The artist looks into more than on the subject.

For the selection of works for this exhibit, I looked at each piece for a sensibility that enticed my response to the fluidity and articulation of the visual language, the level of the questioning of representation that sustained my interest and the conceptual content that made me return to ponder. Those are the three key factors: initial enticement, sustained interest, reflection on content.

I selected honorable mentions and award winners after I looked carefully at the actual installed work. Here each piece was featured to maximize its singularity and here I could really study the works. They appeared more vivid or subtle and in all cases more material-evident in real space rather than digital space. I had to make comparisons as to what enticed, sustained and provoked me longer and deeper. I had to determine what the artist’s idiom was and to what level that idiom was rendered.

Particularly for this exhibit I was looking for the way artists defined abstraction, how they pushed their media and form to personally inventive and technically sophisticated levels, whereby their conceptual focus could be revealed. I looked for the unusual, sometimes even in the way it re-addressed the traditional.


Detail from Migration, photograph by Jennifer Bookout.

Juror's Bio

Joseph Di Bella, Distinguished Professor of Art, has taught at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia since 1977. He served as chair of the Department of Art and Art History from 1990 to 1993 and 1996 to 1999 and Director of University Galleries from 1983 to 1988. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Ridderhof Martin Gallery at Mary Washington. From 1994 to 2003 he was co-director of the University's program in Urbino, Italy. He holds a BA in art history from Rutgers and MA and MFA degrees in painting from Northern Illinois University. A signature member of the National Watercolor Society and affiliated with other professional art organizations, he has exhibited in regional, national and international venues.

Carrol Morgan, Frederick Gallery Curator