Social and news media are full of commentary on the issues and condition of the world, but often appropriate conversations are few. The fifth annual FL3TCH3R Exhibit at ETSU’s Reece Museum, opening Monday, Oct. 9, invites works in varied media that “reflect current issues that affect contemporary culture and investigate societal and political concerns” – and conversations inevitably follow.
“There was such a variety of subject matter, but I felt that a lot of the work came from the heart,” says 2017 exhibit juror Anita Kunz. “It felt emotional to me. A lot of it felt to me as though it came from frustration at not having a better world … The work has meaning. A show like that will be powerful.
“There were whispers and there were shouts. There were big angry pieces and beautiful little subtle ones.”
Kunz, an internationally published and exhibited artist and illustrator, pored over 352 artworks from 132 artists from 30 United States and 10 countries. In 2016, there were 253 submissions and 63 selections exhibited. This year, Kunz selected 76 pieces by 55 artists from six countries and 21 U.S. states.
“The opportunity to host and, in a sense, collaborate with so many artists and their artworks from so many different perspectives and locations across the U.S. and internationally is such an exciting opportunity and honor,” says Carrie Dyer, exhibit co-director.
The FL3TCH3R Exhibit: Social and Politically Engaged Art was established in 2013 by art professor Wayne Dyer, Barbara Dyer and Carrie Dyer in memory of their son and brother, Fletcher, an ETSU bachelor of fine arts senior in graphic design who passed away in 2009 at age 22 in a motorcycle accident.
Fletcher “liked to push people’s buttons and couldn’t understand why his friends weren’t more concerned about events going on in the world around them,” co-director Wayne Dyer says.
“We are also excited that the exhibit’s fifth year has had such great participation,” says Barbara Dyer, also a co-director of the exhibit. “This means that we may be able to reach our first goal for the scholarship endowment … and within a year, can start offering an official award. We have already been offering small awards to students as we have been able. The endowment will be an everlasting source of scholarship funds available year after year in Fletcher’s name and memory.”
The growth in FL3TCH3R submissions and exhibited pieces has been consistent and encouraging, says Reece Exhibition Coordinator Spenser Brenner. “I can say this:” Brenner says, “I have to explain the idea of the FL3TCH3R Exhibit less each year. When someone comes in, I can say, ‘FL3TCH3R Exhibit and they’re like, ‘Oh, the political show.’ More and more, the name FL3TCH3R is being associated with this type of art. The identity of the show is really coming into its own.”
Socially and politically focused art is often difficult to make commercially viable, says art professor Anita DeAngelis, who directs Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at ETSU, a co-sponsor of the exhibit. “This particular exhibition gives us an opportunity to show that kind of work and provide an opportunity for artists to display it for others to see.”
Juror Anita Kunz, however, has found a niche making art that addresses social and political issues. She has produced cover art for publications including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Magazine. She has also illustrated more than 50 book jacket covers.
“Dr. Kunz has been delightful to work with and has brought a lot of passion and excitement to the selection process for the 2017 exhibit,” Barbara Dyer says. “Not only has she poured hours of work into the selection process, but she generously has agreed to be available to our ETSU Art & Design students and community by being on campus for one week, Oct. 23-27.”
During that visit to ETSU, Kunz will present a Juror’s Talk on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 5 p.m. in Reece Museum, to be followed by the exhibit reception at 6 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through Friday, Dec. 15.
The FL3TCH3R Exhibit also will provide additional opportunities for conversation through talks, discussions and other activities, Brenner says. Collateral events will be posted at www.etsu.edu/reece under Exhibitions.
For more information about Fletcher Dyer, visit http://fletcherdyer.com/about.html. For more information about the exhibit, visit http://www.FL3TCH3Rexhibit.com and for Reece Museum, visit www.etsu.edu/reece or call 423-439-4392. For more information on Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, visit www.etsu.edu/martin.