The 2020 International Juried Show at the Center of Photographic Arts
Thank you so much to the Center of Photographic Arts for the incredible privilege of jurying the 2020 International Juried Exhibition. I have been humbled and inspired by the experience and I can confidently say that the state of photography today is more exciting and varied than at any other time in history. The exhibition reflects all facets of contemporary photography, from classic silver gelatin to alternative processes to cell phone capture, to collaged or sewn photographs—and more. The work is personal, political, complex, and beautiful. It’s a collection of deep seeing and thinking, so important for our world today. Congratulations to all the artists.
A month ago, when I set about accomplishing this feat, I was in a darker psychological space and some of my selections reflect that mood. There were particular images that metaphorically spoke to our global and national darkness, but still left room for hope and possibility—Roberston Parkman’s Light House, JoAnn Chaus’ Daisy Grill, Robert Neilsens’ Opening, SunJoo Lee’s Black Memorabilia #13, Christopher Jordan’s False Down, Andrea Abonyi’s The Cloud, Larry Smukler’s Face, Trevor Jackson’s Untitled, and James Lee’s For George Floyd at Moonlight Beach are a few examples of that reflect that mood.
Many of the other selections spoke to the profound change in the photographic dialogue with artists intervening with the images in a myriad of ways. I have always thought that it was a loss to photographic education when photography and art were separated in many MFA programs. Happily I am witnessing a pushback to the flood of digital imagery in the world today with many artists are returning to alternative processes, intervening with the surface of their imagery through collage, cutting and sewing, and using the digital and wet darkroom to transform and amaze. Also important and transformative is the deep thinking about photographs today as artists share the reasons behind their photographic intentions. We are using photography as a vehicle to metaphorically mine our personal lives, to speak to profound issues of race and gender, to understand the inner psychology of trauma, loss, and memory. Photography is so much more than taking a beautiful photograph, it’s a unique and universal language all its own, with incredible power—and amazingly, the ability to create change.
I also wanted to briefly speak to the process of being a juror. Trust me, this exhibition in particular was no easy feat. I literally looked at thousands and thousands of photographs over and over and selected about three times the amount of work that would fit into the gallery and the online exhibition. That’s when the work gets really really hard. During the jurying process I become deeply attached to images and can’t bear to let them go—Ann will attest that I begged her for more wall space. Narrowing down thousands for an exhibition consisting of 49 photographs on the wall and 70 images online is almost heartbreakingly unbearable. I had to let go of images that I love, work by people I admire, photographs I’ve selected for other exhibitions, even work that I have featured on Lenscratch. The process of jurying is a subjective feat, but that subjectivity comes with deep consideration of the current state of photography….and the world.
And best not to forget that I am in fact curating an exhibition that needs visual diversity and to make a statement that This is photography in 2020. This exhibition is a reflection of our world at this moment in time, a reflection of photography in this seminal and unparalleled year and it will be a historical marker of artists rising up in a year of profound loss and turmoil to create magic, hope, and beauty.
I am so grateful to have spent hours and hours with your photographs, no decision came lightly, and I do want to say congratulations to all who submitted. You have provided me so much excitement about the future of photograph. Thank you again for this wonderful privilege.
There are also 70 terrific images online that accompany the in gallery exhibition.
The winning images are: 1st Place ($2500): Norma Cordova, 2nd Place ($1000): Cody Bratt, Third Place ($500): JoAnn Chaus, Merit Awards ($250): Christopher Jordan, Ursula Sokolowska, Ray Koh, Wilton Wong. Honorable Mentions: Olga Merrill and Alex Shchebet.
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