It was an honor and delight to jury the Long Island Craft Guild’s “Current Climate” virtual exhibition. Making art by hand with intent helps calm the anxious mind and body, organize distracted thoughts and attention, and express fears and concerns in a visceral way that go beyond words. The artists who submitted to this show really harnessed that power which craft-making does for the maker in a turbulent time when creating is a challenge itself.
For this viewer, so many works also communicated their intent and power to me directly, while being of very high artistic merit and craftsmanship. They gave me solace, comradery, food for thought, and delight even in apprehension. Some of the works expressed their concerns more illustratively, such as “2020” (fear and anxiety) and “The Ooze” (I could see the virus literally spreading). Viscerally, “Just Breathe,” using flowers as the medium for depicting lungs, one instinctively does exactly what the title commands. Yet the fragileness of our lungs with the Pandemic has never been so collectively apparent, again intuitively felt with the porcelain.
A number of works in the exhibition took a more poetic or abstract route whose intent still resonated clearly to my being, such as “Containment,” with its claustrophobic, isolated cubes, and agitated, aggressive connections, and “Kokoro: The Heart of Things,” feeling the gestures of built-up pain, anxiety and grief as if I were making them myself. The political climate was also addressed thoughtfully and artistically. “Our flag was still there” has such a beautiful sadness to it, and “At the Eleventh Hour” surprises and delights me with this whimsically resourceful and scary vehicle representing an unstable, jerry-rigged society driven by a cartoon character.
Climate change was literally the subject for some artists, but with hugely diverse media and approaches. Even works by the same artist have such different energies to deal with their topics. “Storm” feels very aggressive, like militarized lightning ready to strike; and “Tsunami” overwhelms perilous humanity. Some works were more abstract to the theme, expressing a more general humanitarian emotional response, like “Sitting in the Shadows” and “Veiled,” with their sense of isolation, vulnerability and grief we all can probably relate to right now. Putting anxiety aside, some artists found the silver lining in their isolation, appreciating their intimate surroundings with fresh eyes, or using whatever materials are at hand and allowing themselves to “Just Play!”–and even curiosity about exciting new discoveries and directions that will come out of all of this upheaval. I hope the viewers take time to enter fully into the hand and mind that made these lovely works and enjoy them as much as I.
— Karen Kettering Dimit
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