Sixth annual Juried Exhibition paints a national picture at VAC


Marshall University’s Visual Arts Center hosted the opening reception of its 6th Annual National Juried Exhibition, Give Me Some Space!, Thursday, Jan. 19 at the VAC in Downtown Huntington.

There were featured pieces from local artists and even artwork from out of the country, including paintings to clay sculptures, from digital work to cast iron and concrete.

“Our exhibition program is the perfect kind of blend of all that we do,” VAC Director Sandra Reed said. “Really, from educating, from making, from experiencing, from appreciating ourselves and the artwork of others. It’s tremendous that we have [the Carroll Art Gallery] to show it in.”

Juror Alison Helms, director of the School of Art and Design at West Virginia University, was not present at the opening. She did express that she wanted to get all the mediums and concepts built into the show, but she also wanted it to be a show comparing current trends in modern art and look to ones with a historical or traditional technique to them.

“Give Me Some Space! provides a fresh context in which to consider each work of art by offering a new experience,” Helms said in her Juror’s Statement. “This special gallery space allows the viewer to experience the essence of the artists’ intentions. This is a significant testament to the role art plays in our lives and contributes to meaningful experiences in the gallery.”

Without the state-of-the-art Carroll Art Gallery, it would be a challenge to host such exhibits. And when it comes to placing the artwork, sometimes the placement is everything.

“This space is museum quality, it’s world class; those are not overstatements,” Reed said. “And the fact that it has this permeable architecture glass wall — there is no separation. One of the best things about art is seeing it over and over again, so students … come back again and again for themselves to look anew and take it in, and that really furthers honoring the artists.”

It took artist and WVU instructor Megan Gainer a collective 40 hours to install her art piece, “Homeplace,” on the back wall of the Carroll Art Gallery.

“My background is in jewelry and metal-smithing, so when I make big things, I make big things out of tiny things,” Gainer said.

Her piece is made of 2,800 sequin pins and four spools of thread. She got her inspiration from growing up in rural West Virginia and the Appalachian culture, so one of the big draws for “Homeplace” was the materials used. “Homeplace” is mimicking old, traditional style wallpaper.

“I wanted to used thread in a non-traditional manner,” Gainer said. “In sewing, you use a similar color to your fabric so it’s not made visible. In this instance, I wanted to use it as a drawn line or to create marks, and I found that it was a really easy way to do something subtle and yet manage to make a statement out of it.”

Artists Jim Benedict, Sukjin Choi, Katherine Cox, Megan Gainer and Shona McDonald all received Honorable Mention. Third place was Jamie Rodriguez with Reflection Landscape #4, Second place was Sarah Tortora with Conduit II, first place was Jeremy Entwistle with 0-6 2015 and Juror’s Choice was Britny Wainwright with Construct Cover #2.

“The work selected defines and represents a mirror of current trends in contemporary art today,” Helms said.

Hannah Swartz can be contacted at [email protected]