Portfolio 2021: the Best of 2020 is the current FRCQ annual online juried members’ exhibit.
The juror for Portfolio 2021 was Martha Wolfe.
What an honor it was to jury the Front Range Contemporary Quilters’ annual Portfolio exhibition for 2020. To me, FRCQ represents a dynamic group of talented fiber artists from all stages in their creative journey, from the well-established artist to those just acquainting themselves with the art quilt. FRCQ is known for its welcoming and nurturing community, mentoring artists and cultivating the fine art in quilting. Thus, my expectation for the response to the call was high. I was not disappointed.
I was invited to select the “Best Work of 2020”. But how do you select the “Best of” from 2020, a year defined by so many disruptive events; the Covid-19 pandemic, record-breaking natural disasters, growing social unrest and a widening ideological chasm between fellow Americans? How do you consider the impact these extraordinary events have had on artists? Do they drive one to try new things, to seek new answers or ways to express new feelings? Or do they compel one to reach for the comfort of the constant and familiar? Where did the artists find inspiration in this year of unique challenges? All of these questions were in my thoughts as I opened the files to view each entry.
My hope was to create an exhibit that featured the works that stood out, not only in imagery and execution, but took creative risks, explored deep places and evoked a reaction. Initially, I viewed only the images, looking solely for visual impact, taking in the beauty, the recognizable, the textures and saturated colors, the solemn truths. A second review included a closer look at materials and techniques used as well as thoughtful consideration of the artist’s statement. With each step in the review, works were set aside, adding and subtracting from the collection, back and forth. When at last the group felt strong and connected, the final selections were made.
Despite the uncertainties of 2020, it was clear that the artists were buoyed by their work. Some artists found refuge in themes of peace and comfort in their natural surroundings. Some found strength to protect their loved ones. For some artists, it was a safe place to begin a new series or experiment with a new technique, while others seized the opportunity to revisit work they had put away and to breathe new life into it. And still others explored difficult themes of loss and impermanence, the need for social justice and the vulnerability of our environment. Overall, it is a powerful, thought-provoking show, that invites the viewer to look closer. It would have been wonderful to view this exhibit hanging in a gallery, to get close and appreciate each stitch, ponder and discuss each artist’s statement and be immersed in the moment.
As with all exhibits, there were many worthy entries that could not be included. Additionally, it was disappointing to reject interesting work due to weak photography. Professional quality photographs are always important, however, in this era of virtual exhibitions they can be the deciding factor. I applaud all that entered. I know, as a studio artist myself, 2020 demanded strength and resilience to focus and create. All of the work I viewed demonstrated those attributes and I would encourage every artist to continue to “transform fabric and fibers into exquisite art that touches you and those who view it.”
— Martha Wolfe
Enjoy our newest annual, online, juried members’ exhibition!
Portfolio 2021: the Best of 2020
Portfolios from previous years can also be viewed:
Portfolio 2020: the Best of 2019
Portfolio 2019: the Best of 2018
Portfolio 2018: the Best of 2017
Portfolio 2017: the Best of 2016
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