From the Curator: Reflections of ArtsWestchester’s First Triennial

Although the ArtsWestchester Triennial is over, Co-Curator Paola Morsiani reflects on the process and what it means for the organization’s future Triennial exhibitions.

Triennial exhibitions make a very big difference for all involved, for at least two reasons.  First and foremost, they point to the very place that chooses to invest in such a large-scale event, with passion, energy and resources – a place for all the citizens who have chosen to live there and contribute to it, including the humming contingent of artists deserving of one more stage.  Second, by nature triennial exhibitions promise to come back, over and over again, each time generating expectation, preparation, aspirations and, of course, more chances for artists.

This first ArtsWestchester Triennial begins a long process of uncovering, for the rest of the country and beyond, the sprawl of artist studios, and larger and smaller art enterprises, comprising the much-spoken-about, but to many still ensconced, Hudson Valley/Upstate New York creative community.  The articulate process put in place by the ArtsWestchester’s team involves this entire context.  Through it, the artists exhibiting here were selected by myself and Co-Curator Marc Straus from a list of submissions that were recommended by art professionals living and working in the region.  It has been my honor and pleasure to get acquainted with the artists’ work.  In our approach, we considered an artist’s career and vision, as well as the level of accomplishment of the submitted works of art.

We were immediately impressed by the vast diversity of experiences, so we elected to engage the entire range of cultures, methods and scopes.

We also noticed that the Hudson Valley is certainly no place for retirement, solely.  On the contrary, older and newer generations of artists both elect to live in the Valley and Upstate for inspiration, continuing a long tradition for artists. This Triennial exhibition gains strength from the ongoing dialogue among these perspectives, with artists whose work is the result of years of sedimentation and speculation, and other artists who are improvising new expressions that require viewers to suspend their disbelief.

Finally, we live in a time in which the engineered and digitized coexist comfortably with the handcrafted and physical.  The two classes of objects in fact exchange characteristics, seemingly by osmosis, where artisanal practice is motivated by conceptual premises and digital expression is enjoyed as pure making.  This convergence of different spirits reflects another constant we appreciated among all of the artists who submitted work for this Triennial exhibition, one that was important to us – the artists’ awareness and critical exploration of all communities living here and that make it all the more worthwhile to stay.

As with all exhibitions, audiences themselves will put the finish mark on the process of considering the artists and their works in this first ArtsWestchester Triennial. The viewers’ perspective will no doubt deeply inform how this event will grow in future editions.

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