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“unique: alternative processes” juried by Christina Z Anderson

The “unique: alternative processes” exhibition juried by Christina Z Anderson was in the Salon gallery from November 24, 2017 to January 14, 2018.  Christina selected thirty nine images from thirty two artist.  Merte Lien’s “The CooCoo Tree” received the Juror’s Selection award.  Ralph Wilson’s “Blues in a Bottle” received the Director’s Selection award.  Donna Moore’s “Momento Mori: Aves” received the Visitors’ Award.

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“It was an honor to be selected as the juror for Unique: Alternative Processes. I have practiced, taught, and written about handmade processes for almost 20 years, during which time “alt” has increased dramatically. Galleries are representing artists working in a variety of handmade processes. Museums are collecting the work. Art critics are taking notice and writing about “alt” as if it has just recently been discovered.

I judged close to 300 works by 56 artists, and to narrow my choices down to 10% of that was daunting; I could easily have chosen twice that number. Artists’ works were presented anonymously so my selections could be made without prejudice. Sometimes it is a hair’s breadth between one work and another.

32 artists were chosen for the show. Processes were widely varied: cyanotype, gum, photogravure, wet plate collodion, carbon, platinum, Van Dyke brown, intaglio, bromoil, image transfer, chemigram, mordançage, collage, lith printing, salted paper, lumenprint, and perhaps others I don’t recognize. Abstraction was well-represented, and some of my favorites were minimalist. Organics, birds, and women all figured prominently, but one of my favorite images is of leaves fallen in a hirsute man’s lap. Landscape had its prominent place: a tree’s shadow sprawling across leaf-covered pavement, a verdant forest untouched by human hand, turbulent Caspar Friedrich-like seas. The 175-year old cyanotype process is more popular now than when it was first discovered, printed on glass, paper, and fabric, one particular piece an artful combination of a photograph within a photogram accented by gold stitching. I could speak about each one of my choices and why it spoke to me, and also about those that are not in the final 33, and how that hair’s breadth factored in. Ultimately it comes down to this against that, and a juror’s (my) particular frame of reference.

For the juror’s award I kept coming back to one image that upon first glance was not necessarily in the running. Through each succeeding pass through all 300 images (a process that happens multiple times over multiple days), I kept coming back to it, a primitive image of blues and browns that references folk art, outsider art, Audubon, holiday trees. The image is both abstracted and decorative, not a perfect image but one full of beauty and depth in the way the birds are articulated, the pile of feathers below referencing the shedding of life and the passing of all things. And that’s why I chose it: it is full of subtle paradoxes, beautiful yet imperfect, happy yet sad, primitive yet sophisticated, light yet deep. It grew on me with repeated viewing.

I thank all artists for taking the time to submit work and Amanda Smith for allowing me to collaborate with her on this show. I am truly thrilled to see contemporary alt work of this caliber.”

Christina Z Anderson