The current exhibit in the University Art Gallery is Digital Space, which runs Feb. 19 through March 9. Thursday, March 1, a reception and lecture with the juror Christopher Schneider was held.
This is the fourth year of this particular juried exhibit and it has been previously known as Cyberspace. It is an exhibit curated by a chosen juror of digital fine arts. It is open to any artist in the state of Michigan. The way the competition is formatted is that all the artists that wish to submit their work to the University Gallery do so in the form of a picture of the work. Then, the University Art Gallery Coordinator Tisch Lewis puts all the pieces together and strips them of identifying factors to avoid bias. This packet is then sent to the juror who will pick the pieces that are to be showcased. Then the juror reviews the exhibit and chooses winners.
Lewis, who has been a juror herself, believes that every jurors process is different. It depends on how they view the exhibit as a whole and not just on the merit of the work itself.
“Jurying varies from person to person,” Lewis said. “I know that I, when it comes to jurying myself, there’s certain things that I look for. I try to keep personal taste out of it and look at the piece for its own merits. It may be something that if I had a $1000, I may not choose to buy, but I can still objectively look at the piece itself and judge it on that merit.”
Lewis also finds inspiration in the artwork that has been showcased in this exhibit. Particularly she was excited about the advance made with 3-D printing, as some of the sculptures had 3-D printed steel. This provides an educational experience for all students even if they did not submit their work.
“All of our exhibitions are there for some underlying education purpose,” Lewis said. “Since this was open to artists in the state of Michigan, there may be work from artists that students have never experienced before or would have otherwise.”
Schneider is a professional artist and an adjunct photography professor at Lawrence Technological University and Oakland Community College. His MFA is from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and he is the founder and gallery coordinator for Hatch: A Hamtramck Art Collective. His experience as a juror has taught him a lot and he looks for something specific in each piece he judges.
“First and foremost I want to see some kind of original vision,” Schneider said. “I want to see something I haven’t seen before preferably. Also, technical competence is important, but it is not the be all and the end all. It depends on if it distracts me from the message. I want to be moved, I want to be provoked and I want it to make me feel something.”
Third year theatre and communication student Brittany LaCross attended the exhibit and was inspired to attempt to do work of her own.
“I really like the double exposure used in the photographs,” LaCross said. “I think it is cool because I want something more than just a photograph. I am actually motivated to do stuff with my life now by looking at the work of these artists.”
Through his experience, Schneider offers advice to aspiring artists.
“Be fearless and to know that it is never as bleak as people make it out to be,” Schneider said. “You are going to face rejection and people who don’t understand you. There is a lot of work for creative people out there it’s just not a linear path; it’s a diverging path. It is scary because it is hazy, but the path is still there. Have faith, be daring, be fearless and don’t be knocked down too easily.”