Since 1978, Visual Arts Mississauga (VAM) has been inviting artists from across Ontario to submit their best work to a creative competition. On January 11, 2018, VAM will open its 40th Juried Show of Fine Arts, an annual art event made even more prestigious by our host for the past 30 years – the Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM).
I always say that art making is an act of courage. The painter or sculptor stands before a blank canvas or a pile of material and contemplates his or her first move. The first move is the one that takes the most courage - it is the first step on a journey of discovery. As the work begins to emerge, so too does a new understanding of oneself as an artist situated firmly in this place and this time. Creating is a deeply intimate undertaking and it takes a gutsy spirit to share it with the world; to put it out in the open space where it will be judged and scrutinized and criticized.
In this juried exhibition, a panel of experts come together to choose 40 selected works from a field of 200. The competition for inclusion is great and being selected will give an artist exposure in a highly regarded space and a chance at a prize. The artist’s work is suddenly “advanced to a high degree of importance.”*
Each year VAM selects a panel which includes an academic, a curator and an artist and this year’s panelists are visual arts instructor John C. Armstrong from Sheridan College; curator, Jayne Wilkinson from Blackwood Gallery and Toronto artist, Faisal Anwar. When reviewing the digital submissions jurors do not know the names of the artists. They look for excellence in technique but also interesting form, colour, texture and subject matter. Once the work is hung, by AGM Curator Kendra Ainsworth, viewers are guaranteed a special art adventure. Last year’s month-long exhibition welcomed over 1600 guests!
Artist and Buddhist John Cage said, “I never say I like or dislike something. I say ‘that does not interest me.” The creative output of any particular artist when put on public display will either pique your interest - invite you to look further into the piece - the artist’s life - or it won’t and that is fine. Viewing a piece of art should never be about getting it or liking it – it should be about being moved by it. As a viewer, when you move into the space between you and the work, you are inhabiting a space where the artist once paced – back and forth – panning in and out to see the emergence of their creative muse come to life in form, colour, texture and light.
I hope you will join us on January 11th for the Opening Reception of VAM40 at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. And if you want to know why the jurors chose the final works they did, join us at the Walk the Talk event during the run of the exhibition. Stay tuned for date and time details!
*Buckham, Philip Wentworth, Theatre of the Greeks, 1827, Chapter 3, Section 1, Dramatic Contests, p. 99 and note 3.
Image: Quan Steel, Feed Me Plastic 2015 – fish skeleton, plastic detritus, parchment paper
Image – image credit