Gregg Yupanki Bautista
Jamie L. Luoto
Emily Blair Quinn
When I first looked through the submitted artworks, I wasn't searching for any particular theme or connecting thread. My goal was to see the images for what they are, and in the context they were presented to me.
I was amazed at the sheer variety of the submissions, including the different media, processes, and subject matter they explored. The artists addressed ideas such as identity, domesticity, appropriation, capitalist production and distribution, the body, and art about art. Many artists used social media, performance, installation, and textiles to question distinctions between traditional conceptions of digital art, fine art, and craft. Looking through the artworks made me realize that there wasn't even a common idea of what art is, what it should be, or what it looks like. For example, the works were presented in diverse locations, including artist studios, gallery spaces, domestic settings, parks, and even convenience stores. This excited me. Gone are the days (or at least they should be) when art is viewed in the pseudo-neutral space of a white cube through the myopic lens of a single hegemonic narrative.
Still, I knew that I had to develop some kind of criterion to select a cohesive group. I also knew that this criterion would inevitably reflect my subjectivity and individual quest as an artist since there is no neutrality or objectivity in art. This might be obvious to other artists, writers, and critics—but it is important for me to address it here, as the word 'juror' might imply some sort of fair or rational arbitrage. Being the only curator of this edition of I Like Your Work's catalog, the selected pieces will inevitably, even if unconsciously (because I made a strong effort to curate an artistically diverse group), reflect my personal taste and interest in art. The selection would certainly be very different with a different juror. As a result, I hope that the artists whose work I didn't choose will not take my choices as personal or as something that deters them from future applications; I encourage them to remember that a new juror presents a new realm of possibility.
It has not escaped me that most of the works here were created between 2020 and now—a time when we, both individually and as a society, went through unimaginable changes and challenges. As a group, the selected artworks do not aim to illustrate any particular theme in art or art history. They do not directly address the current pandemic, although the intimacy and self-reflexiveness of some pieces quietly echo the isolation of the previous years. They likewise do not depict the recent social uprisings or overtly challenge institutions or ideologies. Yet, they are very self-aware, critical, curious, and investigative of their world and immediate context. Most importantly, the works I selected have resonated deeply with me, often for reasons I could not understand.
Miranda Holmes's paintings immediately gripped me. Holmes described two warped bodies with a few bold red strokes and divided 'Bent Back Again's pictorial space into two peeping holes. Emet Sosna's incredibly delicate painting titled 'Cardboard Box' imagines a figure building itself from cardboard while also contorting to fit within the box-like limits of the picture plane - a felt fragility. In 'Lamp Elegy,' a piece by Rachel Zur, arms grow out of an empty armchair; an otherwise ordinary object now holds longing and tenderness in its form.
All the selected artworks have surprised me, moved me, made me curious, and inspired me. They have presented me with many moments of creativity, joy, and longing, and I hope they will do something similar to you, although in different ways.
I want to thank Emily Rensink, Alexandra Beaumont, Cate Holt, Emet Sosna, Emily Blair Quinn, Gregg Yupanki Bautista, Heather Drayzen, Jamie L. Luoto, Jane Westrick, Julie Fordham, Kelley O'Leary, Laura Mosquera, Lauren Walkiewicz, Miranda Holmes, Nicholas Naber, Rachael Zur, Sabrina Barrios, Sarah Williams, Sarah Sutton, Hannah Burnworth, Jazmin Sasky, Rachel Gregor for the opportunity to delve deeper into their practices and to be moved by their ideas, ingenuity, and imagination.
I am also incredibly grateful to all the brave artists who submited their works. As an artist who has submitted my work to numerous juried awards, calls for residency, and other applications, such as art schools, I urge you to continue to share your art. We need it. Every artist plays a different and necessary part in contributing to our society's development and well-being.
To all the team at ILYW, many thanks for the trust in me to participate in this project. I know how dedicated you are to creating a supporting and diverse artistic community.