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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Awardees for "American / Woman': 31st Positive/Negative National Juried Art Exhibition announced

"Like an American"
Additional photos below »

March 01, 2016

JOHNSON CITY, TN — The East Tennessee State University Department of Art & Design and Slocumb Galleries in partnership with the Honors College, School of Continuing Studies & Academic Outreach, Women's Studies Program, Women's Resource Center and the Student Government Association announced the winners for "American / Woman," during the 31st Annual Positive/Negative National Juried Art Exhibition awarding reception and juror's lecture. The exhibition is extended until March 17 at the Slocumb Galleries.

"American / Woman" is a two-part exhibition juried by Al Miner, this year's juror for the 31st Annual Positive/Negative National Juried Art Exhibition. After looking through 218 artists' submissions nationwide, Miner developed two curatorial directions that he entitled 'American / Woman'. He described his selections as featuring works by contemporary artists that "deal with location/place/landscape in the U.S. and the others take women/girls/femininity/stereotypes about women as their subject." The exhibitions offered diverse and nuanced images, as he said, "the American gallery brings together works that speak to the evolving political, social and physical terrain of our country. The Woman gallery illustrates that in our time, shifting definitions of and expectations for women are as compelling to artists as the female form has always been."

The Best of Show was awarded to Emily Burns for her painting entitled, "Like an American,' as it bridged the divide between the two exhibition trajectories. Miner described Burns' work as "a kitschy Venus with slender, supple limbs and an antelope's head, suggestively draped in an American flag," that became the emblematic figure for the two exhibitions. The four Honorable Mention awardees were Douglas Balentine, Kelly Hider, Joseph Paushel and Blake Conroy for his work "John Martin'.

Miner posed the questions "What does "American' look like?" and "What defines today's woman? "Is she a mythical creature, a seductress, a survivor, or a force to be reckoned with?" For the "American' exhibition, Miner selected works that employed "iconic images that harken back to an idealized America." He said, "often they are symbols of American strength and bravery: the rocket that took the first American into space, the classic cowboy, and the stoic bison. But these artists recast them for today's audiences." The works included images of silhouettes reminiscent of colonial America, objects of the capitalist culture, and that of a Union soldier like "John Martin', a multi-layered paper laser cut by Blake Conroy, as well as the bewildering mixed media, "Like Fondling a Long Crevice' by Joseph Paushel. The works are not the old cliché, but instead, they reimagine "narratives about a singular nation made up of many opinions and experiences."

Meanwhile, his response to the "Women" questions was, "She is all of these and more," as embodied by the diverse illuminations on the female figure in the exhibition. He mentioned Kelly Hider's "Divination' as exploration of "girlhood at different stages, from the glittering wonder of tea parties to life on the verge of full blown womanhood, where a sorority sister holds her most prized treasure by her side, not a teacup but a cell phone." In addition, Balentine Douglas's "Contemplation" embodied women as "treasures themselves with faces etched by experience and bodies as strong as warships; in their strength they challenge the notion that youthful, delicate women are most valuable." In his curatorial statement, Miner concluded it with an inquisitive stance, encouraging viewers to re-evaluate the stereotyped image of women, through the diverse female figures he has selected, he posed the challenge to "consider what a single prototypical American woman of today would look like; it's unlikely she'd bear any resemblance to the Statue of Liberty."

The Positive/Negative is a national juried art exhibition, organized yearly since 1985, to feature innovative contemporary art and expose the region to current trends and directions in visual art. By providing platform for dialogue through exhibitions of contemporary art, the Positive/Negative exhibitions promote diversity, creative excellence and critical thinking within the academic and regional communities.

The exhibit isfree and open to the public. The Slocumb Galleries are located at 232 Sherrod Drive, ETSU campus. Gallery hours are Mondays thru Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with extended hours during receptions, Thursdays until 6 p.m., and by appointment. For more information, contact Slocumb Galleries' at 423-483-3179. Parking and handicapped access are available.

A! ExtraTopics: Art, Exhibits

"Contemplation" by Douglas Balentine