Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what is familiar to you. It could be anything from the chair you are sitting on to early childhood memories. You might recall moments, ideas, visions, sounds or definitions collected from life that together create your world, very different from those of others.
Amanda Small, one of 16 represented in the NC Arts Council 2013 Fellowship exhibition at CAM Raleigh, Museum of Contemporary Art, cites the following quotation as a way to explain her art, which in my opinion unifies the entire exhibition:
We should always remember that the work of art is invariably the creation of a new world, so that the first thing we should do is to study the new world as closely as possible, approaching it as something brand new, having no obvious connection with the worlds we already know. When this new world has been closely studied, then and only then let us examine its links with the other worlds…
The NC Artist Fellowship is a 2 year program funded by the NC Arts Council. It is for artists statewide of various media, including visual art, craft, film/video, choreography, prose writing, poetry, playwriting/screenwriting, musical composition and songwriting. Every year 16 artists are granted $10,000 to create work that will then be on display at museums across the state at the end of the term.
So thinking about how this program is so large scale, I got to thinking about why exactly these 16 artists were selected for this exhibition. It dawned on me after a few hours of standing closely, examining, feeling and questioning that the art work was inviting me to immerse myself and explore this new world that the pieces create.
Each work invites an interaction with the viewer, whether it was challenging their notion of a rocking chair in Brandon Jones’s Morph Rocker, looking closer to notice the fine print in Scott Hazard’s Read This Line or move in response to the viewer like in Ryan Buyssen’s Resistance sculpture. Some spaces were literal immersions, like Marek Ranis’s Kill the Boar Kill the Farmer where the video surrounds you or Travis Donovan’s Illuminationem where the entire space is dark except for the lighted monofilament sculpture that hangs in the middle of the room.
This immersion experience was highlighted in the exhibition specifically, but this is also in my mind what art does best: it confronts notions of our personal world and the one we all share. It makes you rethink the world you’ve created and challenges you to understand another; to broaden your scope. Furthermore, you know that you experienced a good piece of art when you feel the need to engage with it, whether that means wanting to touch the strokes or just taking a closer look to further understand its story.
The NC Arts Council 2013 Fellowship exhibition is on display until April 27 at CAM Raleigh. All official websites for the featured artists on the CAM website and other CAM events. For more information on the Arts Council click here.