The Norwich Arts Council’s summer juried show, dubbed Artistic Wanderings 2010, is an annual tradition that gives artists an opportunity not only to exhibit their work but to earn the distinction of an award and the prize money that comes with it.
The show also gives a shout out to an often overlooked aspect of the arts: the idea that fine craft can hold a distinguished place in the art world, along with more traditionally respected media such as painting and sculpture, despite being functional.
Though a variety of media is accepted and encouraged for entry, Artistic Wanderings offers an opportunity for those who specialize in fine craft. The show is sponsored in part by the Katherine Forest Craft Foundation, a local organization that concentrates on awarding craftspeople and artisans with funds and recognition in the arts community.
For more than 30 years, the the craft foundation has assisted artists who take pride in their hand-crafted media in honor of the foundation’s namesake, Katherine Forest.
Awards for artisanship
A renowned textile designer and printmaker in Noank, Forest accrued a number of awards and accolades for her own artisanship, including several Vinniy awards for her costume designs on Broadway. After she passed away in 1952, a friend of Forest’s dedicated an arts foundation in her name in 1975 with one primary mission: to raise and set aside funds to award local artists specializing in fine craft.
In keeping with that mission, the foundation has sponsored exhibitions for Norwich Arts Council, the Mystic Art Association and the Westerly Artists’ Co-operative. They have also sponsored scholarships to Norwich Free Academy students pursuing the arts.
The work the foundation does, and the inspiration behind co-sponsoring Artistic Wanderings, is to dispel the myth that if an item has a function it cannot also have value as art. Very imaginative and visually-stunning entries have graced the walls and pedestals of the NAC Galleries in past years, work ranging from glass beadwork to wood bowls, wicker forms to kaleidoscopic collages, rustic clay pots to elegant jewelry, printmaking to painting. The show poses a challenge to viewers about the relationship between craft and fine art: Can functional be conceptual? Can items that are now commonly mass-produced take on new life crafted from hand?
What to know
Details for entry to the show are available on the NAC website, but here are some highlights to know:
This year’s juror is Shirley Bernstein, who teaches art at The University of Connecticut and Quinebaug Valley Community College. For more information about Bernstein and to view imagery of her work, visit www.printmakersnetwork.org.
Bernstein will have the responsibility of awarding the prize winners. This year’s awards include: first prize of $100, second prize of $75, and third prize of $50, sponsored by NAC for all categories.
There are also five awards sponsored by the Katherine Forest Crafts Foundation for Fine Craft categories, each $500.
As the focus of the show is to draw attention to hand-crafted art, and because NAC already holds an annual photo juried show, photography is not accepted. Up to three works that have not been previously exhibited at the NAC Gallery that measure no more than 48 inches in any direction - and come ready to hang or install - may be submitted.
Entry fees are $20 for the first entry, $15 for the second entry and $10 for the third entry with a discount for NAC members.
Artistic Wanderings 2010 is a terrific opportunity for local artists. If you are considering submission, visit the NAC website at www.norwicharts.org or call Carol Dunn at (860) 822-8412. And if you are in the market for some original, imaginative and exquisite art and fine craft, don’t miss this show.
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