The idea behind America: Now and Here is to have artists around the country focus their creative lenses on what America means to them. What moves them, touches them, saddens them, or gives them joy and pleasure? Of the things we love, what feels fragile, vulnerable, hollow or artificial? What makes us proud, determined, and confident?
Art begins the conversation. It is not the last word.
Artists create fresh ways of seeing old things. They breathe renewed life into the stories and myths we tell each other, tell our children, and tell ourselves about who we are and who we want to be. Art does not show us the future. It brings us into the present without judgment and reveals what we have in common.
For the 64 Arts 2012 Juried Exhibition at the Buchanan Center for the Arts, America: Now and Here asked all the artists submitting art work for consideration to work within the themes established by ANH: America as Icon, America as People, and America as Place.
I chose 132 works of art by 78 artists because I was deeply moved and impressed by the range of their emotional content and stylistic interpretations on the subject of what America means to each of these talented artists. Almost all forms of the visual arts are represented in the exhibition: painting, photography, drawing, mixed media, and sculpture.
Under the theme of America as People you will see a great breadth of expression. Sincere observation of people who have great personal meaning for the artists, are close family or friends. You will see expressions of pride in the diversity of the American community, touching images of the struggle, and dislocation of new immigrants and migrant workers. You will see portraits of people whose blurred, collaged, or distorted features give you the feeling that, like America, they are still in the process of becoming who they are, recreating themselves as we look on.
The America as Place theme has works celebrating the majesty of nature in our landscapes like the Grand Canyon, or the spectacle of skylines of our great cities, like Chicago. You will see work that gives us a sense of familiarity and comfort, like a cozy room in our house or a favorite booth at our coffee shop. You will also see work that makes us appreciate the struggle and determination we have to keep that which we cherish alive and prospering, at the same time not shying away from reminding us what has been lost with the breach of trust when our economy failed. You will see work that confronts the toll this has taken on us, our families, and on our communities.
In America as Icon, you will see work the expresses concerns and deep longing for reconnection to those symbols that represent the values which matter the most to us but now feel vulnerable, challenged, and at risk: ingenuity, innovation, tolerance, individuality, justice, gumption, and grit.
The impassioned and sincere art, seen in this exhibition, was created by artists who have shared their feelings, thoughts, and experiences about something we all have in common: America. Through their art we confront our sadness, loneliness, sense of loss, anger, and longing. The works are full of wit and sentiment, beautifully executed. They capture our lives at this point in time: frightened, proud, quiet, enraged, sexy, vulnerable, nostalgic, and discontent. Most importantly, these artists have exposed their feelings to you, but left them open to your interpretation. This is the nature of art. This is how we share. This is how we connect.
Enjoy the show,