Wild! (SAQA CO/UT/WY Regions)

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WHERE THE WILD! THINGS ARE Words are powerful. A single word such as ‘wild’ can inspire a diverse set of ideas and imagery as the works submitted for this exhibition attest. I want to thank every artist who submitted their wildest work, as it takes courage to step into a public realm from the safety of your studio and be ‘judged.’ Whether your work got juried in or out is not a standalone verdict but one of contrast and comparison between the entries and between the jurors’ proclivities. Decisions are not a reflection of merit alone, but often one of serendipity, context, and space. From the entries we could have easily selected a menagerie, an exhibit of just wild animals; we could have set fire to the exhibit by picking wildfires only and dousing none; we could have had an homage to wildflowers; we could have had a landscape show losing ourselves in wilderness; or we could have gone for a walk among all the trees entering wild woods. It turned out that the ‘Wild!’ theme was especially resonant because of its multitude of associations in the natural world. Ultimately, the challenge for us as jurors is to seek powerful pieces that speak to the theme and to each other, reinforcing potential connections and relationships between them. This is how a cohesive exhibit takes shape. Hopefully, our selection delivers such a feast of wildness to the audience. We sought a balanced selection, diverse in techniques and interpretations, yet cohesive in excellence. We discovered that some of us like clarity and balance in works of art, while others prefer off­kilter compositions and a bit of mystique. Most entries were oriented towards literal depictions, made with a deeply felt sense of reverie for wild and natural beauty. The more abstracted the wild­ness, the more an entry spoke to me. This type of work offers a favorite way of escaping into art, of losing myself in visual patterns where room for interpretation moves me to contemplation and reflection. Visual interest attracts my eye while my mind is figuring out the wild­ness of the presented work. Last, but not least, does it make my soul sing? I was delighted to find many such gems. Imagery that depicts both idea and abstraction, as in Sher Beller’s work entitled The Beauty of Broken, about which she states “…wild lives at the intersection of human emotion and physical location.” She captures this through her effective use of emotive colors and broken, pieced forms. Similarly, Michelle Hardy’s use of surface design to create fractures in Surfaces #8, gets to the heart of her desire to express “the forces that erode, weather, obscure, reveal and alter the earth.” Many of the depicted trees were also quite expressive and elevated the idea of their beauty and wildness, as in Michelle Naranjo­Brackett’s Taiga, or Cheryl Lynn Larsen’s O­Live, and Kimberly Lacy’s Kodachrome Reflections, while majestic trees in Gay Young’s Wild Fire and Claudia K. Sheehan’s The Fire Passes succumbed to the force of fires. The entries that gave us animals were fun and engaging: how is it that Shinda, a lion by Carol Kolf, seems wild but cuddly, but Diane S. Fox’s domesticated Wildcat is unapproachable? These contrasts invite us to think about who or what is ultimately the wild one. My hope is that the works we collectively selected prompt you to ask yourself additional wild questions. Let this exhibit take you to “where the wild! things are!” Petra Fallaux, Juror, May, 2022

Serving as a juror for the 2022 Colorado/Utah/Wyoming regional exhibition, WILD!, has been an enlightening and rewarding experience. It was a privilege to look at the artwork created from so much inspiration, thought and effort, but also a bit daunting for a relatively new juror. I needed to think through and define what “best work” meant to me in this context as I made my initial ratings. Ultimately, I gave the highest scores to the works that, to my eye, stood out based on three criteria: that the work be visually impactful, draw me into its world and compel me, forcefully or quietly, to look closer; that the use of textiles and other materials be appropriate to the artist’s intent and the work be well executed; and that the exhibition theme be expressed in a clear and/or unique voice. The Merriam Webster Dictionary lists seven main definitions of the word “wild” as an adjective, with many subcategories (not including noun and adverb usages). Nevertheless, there were several themes that ran through the submissions, though styles ranged from the highly representational to the very abstract. It was clear that the recent wildfires had a profound effect on regional artists as a number of works portrayed fire in both its beauty and its devastation. Wild animals­ regional and global­ were also well represented, as was untamed, uncultivated nature. Devil’s Herd, by Mary Louise Gerek, touched on all three of these themes. Fabric design and texture evoke a dusty, fiery hot environment, while threadwork and paint lightly sketch the details of the story, combining to give a compelling interpretation of the inspiration song, “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. LaVonne M Dunetts created a colloquially wild ­ as in audacious and unreal­ interpretation of flowers at night, Wild Sunflowers, whose intensely color­saturated blooms explode from the muted, carefully composed background. The wild force of nature is visualized via asymmetric composition and elegant stitchwork that show movement marvelously in The Untamed Wind, by Jeannie Schoennagel. I found myself strongly drawn to work for which fiber/fabric/textile was the best medium. The art not only could be made with textiles, it had to be made with textiles. Conveying the textural information that is intrinsic to textile art through two dimensional images is difficult in the best of circumstances. It was heartening to see how many entrants understood how important it was to present their work in good photos and to use the close­up shot to point out details critical to the positive evaluation of their work. That allowed the jurors to concentrate on looking at the art. So many pieces could have easily been included in the exhibition. Happily, the discussions with my fellow jurors were lively, art focused, open and cordial. I saw the curatorial view of the exhibition from Alana Blumenthal, and got a glimpse into global jurying from Petra Fallaux. I learned so much! The final selections were forged from all of our opinions, truly a collaborative effort. My thanks to all the brave artists who stepped up to submit their work. Please know that each submission was carefully considered. I thank the Exhibition Committee for giving me this opportunity and appreciate all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Congratulations to the exhibition artists. Wishing you a WILD!ly successful show! Dolores Miller May 11, 2022

WILD! was an inspired choice of theme for this regional exhibition, and one that generated a breathtaking range of submissions. From the global to the personal, each artist reflected their own understanding of the wild, and how we interact with it. A touching and poignant element of the works submitted was the recurring theme of fire. In our region, wildfires are an inescapable fact of life, one that annually redefines our understanding of our environment and our place in it. Yet still, this exhibit is defined by its abundance of life. Be it the internal, life­sustaining reflections on hope and creativity, or the literal abundance of life from majestic lion to overlooked grasshopper. This show reminds us of one of Mother Nature’s greatest lessons: that life persists somewhere between devastation and renewal. I am grateful to be a part of the Brigham City Corporation. Thanks to their support and enthusiasm for the work the Museum does, we are able to put in the time and effort that it takes to bring quality fiber art to our community year after year. As an organization, it has been a great honor to be the premiere venue for this regional SAQA exhibit. And on the personal level, it has been a profoundly rewarding experience to serve as juror and curator. My personal relationship with art quilts has blossomed since I came to Brigham City two and a half years ago. My job has allowed me to immerse myself in the world of fiber arts and the people who work in them. The complexity of concept, design, and execution fill me with awe and admiration for the artists. Like any medium, the techniques and approaches vary widely. Representational and abstract, embroidery and digital printing, a variety of dyeing and piecing techniques; there is so much innovation happening in the quilting community, and this show exemplifies that full realm of creativity. Just as each artist came at the idea of WILD! from a different perspective, so too will each visitor who views it. I tried to provide constructive input from the perspective of a gallery manager, someone who watches the flow of guests as they circulate through the space. What innovative design choice will stimulate the seasoned art quilt connoisseur? What landscape will remind someone of a favorite memory of their home? What playful colors will draw the eye of the toddler coming in with a young family? Each of them should leave with a sense of time well spent, and the impulse to look at the wild world around them with a new appreciation. Serving on the jury with Dolores Miller and Petra Fallaux was a deeply enriching experience. We deliberated using thoughtful communication and the sharing of our personal artistic perspectives for over two hours. There were many difficult decisions based on representations of techniques and themes, but we formed a solid consensus and mutual admiration. I have great respect for each of the artists who submitted their work, and hope that we did justice to their passion in our selections. I am delighted to be a part of this project, and excited to share the product with the audience at the Brigham City Museum and beyond. Alana Blumenthal Director, Brigham City Museum of Art and History