On Friday, December 3, 2021, the Huron River Art Collective had the long awaited Fall 2021 Juried Art Show Reception at Malletts Creek Library in Ann Arbor. There were over 150 entries for this show. The Juror, Durwood Coffey, had the difficult task of choosing just 40 pieces of art to hang for this show. He requested that we up it to 42, saying it was very difficult to choose as there were many outstanding and diverse pieces.
The Juried Exhibition Committee and a number of volunteers met in late October to hang this show at the library. While hanging, a staff member of the library was overheard saying, “it is so nice to have art on the walls again!’ Isn’t that the truth!?! Patrons of the library were treated to a lovely display of art as they entered, explored and exited the library. All works were for sale.
Artists, friends and relatives who attended the reception viewed the lovely art, and socialized with fellow creatives. Juror, Durwood Coffey gave out awards to Tricia Hampo, Bryan Wilson, Quadre Curry, Anne Rogers, Marilyn Thomas, Gwen McKay and Mary Riley. Durwood also shared some words of wisdom regarding creating art. While reflecting on the submitted work and how he made the difficult decision, he said one thing always stands out and that is composition. If the composition is no good then it doesn’t matter how well rendered a piece is. Good composition always trumps everything else. He also told the group that there are two kinds of artists, those who are a “circle” and those who are a “straight line”. A “circle” artist is one who does one thing, then another, then another, then does what this person wants, and what that person wants and so on and so on (sometimes this is necessary to make a living (; ). The “straight” line artist creates similar things, but always moving forward along that same line. The circular artist does not progress as fast as the straight line artist. To sum it up, he says the straight line artist most likely creates what they love. Bottom line, do what you love!
We hope to see you and your art at the next exhibit!
The Huron River Art Collective would like to thank artist Trisha Hampo for speaking at the reception and writing this blog post. Congratulations again on your first place award.
I was surrounded by sequins, furiously stitching away to meet my class deadline in the 5th grade. Mrs. Codner assigned us a project to create a paper or fabric carp. Mom showed me how I could use sequins to make beautiful, sparkly fish scales. It excited me so much I jumped right in.
There was, however, a problem. There was NO way I could finish the assignment by the deadline. The technique was too time consuming. I’d never been late for a homework assignment, let alone for a project. I was terrified.
Today I can call myself a recovering perfectionist. As a child, perfectionism was already in full bloom. I attended school that day, despite my best attempts to convince Mom otherwise, eyes filled to the brim with tears. And when I told my teacher it would be late because the technique I was using was so time consuming, all I could see (and still acutely remember) was her disappointment.
I went home that day determined to bring my finished carp to school the next day. I knew it was something special.
And when Mrs. Codner saw my project, her eyes popped out of her head. I felt redeemed. It affirmed that the work I put in was worth it. And she hung my carp at the front of the class.
Today I embroider and find other ways to embellish my art.
Childhood is a powerful part of our lives. For better and for worse. Connecting to the child we once were, either through material or giving ourselves permission to play, can be a wonderful way to access and channel the creative voice we seek.
Tip Two: Stop Forcing Success
Picasso is often quoted as saying, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
We start to develop ideas in our head about what we should be doing with our art, what are the correct ways to make, share, sell, display art…
And internalized rules dealing with definitions of success can easily drive our artistic decisions.
And yet, for me, it was returning to a place where there was nothing to give and no more rules to care about that helped me receive the very accolade or recognition I’d sought.
I was teaching high school art when I got these headaches that wouldn’t quit. The CT scans and MRIs had some bad news, too: it was a mass on my pituitary gland. They didn’t know what it was, or if it was cancerous. We’d know more after they went in.
I was in my mid to early twenties and here I was signing a waiver that told me I could go blind, be on lifelong hormone replacement therapy, or die.
In the days that led up to my surgery all I wanted to do was paint. So paint I did (and perhaps for the first time without a plan or a goal). I painted because I wanted to and knew it could be the last time I painted.
It was the first time in my life, since early childhood, that I had painted purely because I could.
Thankfully the surgery was a success and my health returned quickly. Shortly thereafter I found a group call for young artists facing health issues and disability. The work I had painted before the surgery was a good fit for the exhibition so I entered the work.
Those two pieces purchased my first laptop and went on a two year tour of the US which included stops at the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Before that I’d been accepted to, backed out of, then completely rejected from probably half a dozen masters programs.
As soon as I let go, as soon as I stopped trying so hard, I won.
Tip Three: Reflect Regularly
Finding a way to let go and return to creative flow honors the voice already within us. And yet, there are also systems and behaviors we can use to build our skill and develop our unique artist voice.
“I’m bad at math.”
“Artists are disorganized.”
There are A LOT of definitions and cultural assumptions about what it means to be a creative person. We are labeled with chronic mental health problems, as unreliable or inconsistent professionally, bad with money, and I’m sure we could add to this list.
How could these notions NOT impact us?
We internalize beliefs like these and take them on as personal definitions of artistic value and success without even knowing it. Which is why it’s so important to take time periodically to check in with ourselves to ask:
How do I define “artist?”
What does being a successful creative mean to me?
And, how do I get there?
Being strategic with how we use our time, and ensuring it’s aligned with our values and personal definitions will help us get there (wherever there is) faster.
Taking the time to address our limiting beliefs (H/T to Gay Hendricks The Big Leap) can ensure the artistic choices we make come from a place of curiosity and play. And when we make from a place of true flow, honoring the path before us rather than forcing it, we can confidently develop and refine our unique artist voice.
Carrie Brummer is an artist and professional educator who taught for years around the world before creating Artist Strong, an online artists’ community and school. Her personal artist practice is about elevating women, highlighting and addressing gender norms, and perfectionism. Her work has been exhibited across the United States, in Canada, United Arab Emirates, and Oman. You can learn how she supports self-taught artists at www.ArtistStrong.com and view her original art at www.CarrieBrummer.com.
The following post is contributed by student artist Bryan Wilson, Second-Place award winner in the Collective’s 2021 Fall Juried Exhibit.
My name is Bryan Wilson. I am a second year student at the University of Michigan studying art and design. I am an oil painter and fashion designer born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I have been painting for the past 2 years, painting exclusively with oil. Oil painting was a medium that I stumbled upon. I began painting in acrylic my senior year of highschool, and oil painting was something that was heavily recommended to me. I bought my first set in November 2019 and instantly fell in love with the medium. To me it had set itself miles above acrylic in terms of application and rendering.
Through the time of the pandemic I was really able to build a craft and practice the technique of oil painting. I learned everything myself and applied skills I used before in my art into painting with oil. I spent hours watching youtube videos on different methods and techniques. However I found myself lost in technique, I was so invested in technique my work had no substance. I would strive only for photo realistic quality and there was no meaning in my work, and then I shifted.
Today as a fine artist my work is an exploration of morality. We all have morals that we believe to be right or wrong, and through my work I explore how simple it is for anyone to fall victim to any morals. Morals are something as humans we all have and we all have opinions on which are valued higher than others. I receive a lot of inspiration from modern day entertainment, which allows us to be presented with moral choices everyday.
My work features a heavy use of the skeleton figure, often mistaken for death, the use of the skeleton is a representation of the human figure. As an artist I desire to have an impact on the viewer when they see my work. I want the viewer to see the skeleton and be able to see themselves in the same position, victim to the morals surrounding.
For a while I held on to my work and didn’t know what to do with it or how to get it into the world. I was unaware of the world of art, such as galleries and collectives. However, 2021 became my “debut” year. As I began to put my work into the world I was able to find calls for art and put my pieces in shows for the first time. I was, and am, vulnerable as a new artist to the world of art. Some may look at me envious of my abilities and my young age or some look at me as if I’m undeserving, and it becomes overwhelming. I had my very first gallery opening at Hatch Art in Hamtramck, Michigan on April 4th, and by the end of this year I will have done 9 separate gallery openings or events.
Sometimes I feel out of place when I talk to so many artists and they speak to me about working in their studio and these giant projects, but for me I’ve always created from a desk in my bedroom. As I hear, I recognize that it makes the desire of success in the art field greater. I am grateful to be vulnerable in a space I am learning to navigate and love.
I am amazingly honored to have received a second place award amongst so many established artists. The piece is titled “Secrets” it is an exploration of gossip. Gossip is something that is often looked down upon yet we find ourselves doing so often and so intrigued to be a part of, almost like a guilty pleasure. The skeleton in this image is the “gossiper” spreading information to the subject. The subject is also receiving information from another end, being the phone. Similar to the skeleton, anyone could be on the other side of the phone giving any information.
The Huron River Art Collective 2021 Fall Juried Exhibit is currently on display at the Malletts Creek branch of the Ann Arbor Library through December 3rd. The closing reception, with juror, Durwood Coffey, will be on the evening of December 3rd, 6:30p – 7:45p. You can find more information on our juried exhibits on our website, HERE.