Juror's Statement by Lia Newman
What does it mean to be fearful – to live and cope with a phobia? As art making has long been understood as a method towards healing it was not surprising that nearly five hundred works of art were submitted for an exhibition entitled Fears & Phobias. The works of art in a variety of media including painting, photography, textiles, sculpture, printmaking, and video, addressed an array of topics that for the artists are sources of alarm, anxiety, or terror. Fears and phobias are not always rational; the threats may not be real. But for the person in distress, the fear can be debilitating all the same. Therefore, as the juror for this exhibition I was careful not to judge the fear depicted when selecting the final works for exhibition.
There were many innovative, well-crafted works submitted for Fears & Phobias, and unfortunately, space constraints meant nearly ninety-five percent had to be eliminated. Although I judged each submission individually, my aesthetic is certainly evident in the final exhibition. In addition to selecting works that demonstrated technical expertise, I was interested in works that most effectively communicated the exhibition theme through a deliberate visual economy.
I was most surprised by the number of artists who chose quite literal approaches in the visualization of particular fears and phobias. There were a great number of photographic submissions, many relying on the body to illustrate physical harm or psychological states. Additionally, several artists even used text within their works to encourage specific interpretations. However, when selecting works of art for the exhibition I leaned toward those that were less obvious in their portrayal. I was most interested in works by artists who approached the theme in a more conceptual manner. It was in pondering such works that I was pushed to analyze the artists’ intentions, while at the same time, drawing on personal experience, evaluate my own phobias as well.