Northern Michigan University’s DeVos Art Museum has launched the first virtual edition of its annual “North of the 45th” exhibition because of COVID-19. The juried show features diverse works from artists living in the geographical area north of the 45th parallel in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“This exhibition, and many other virtual exhibitions, are shining examples of the possibilities that came out of shrinking and expanding the landscape of work and life,” said Emily Lanctot, director and curator. “A virtual format allows us to hear from artists and learn from and about artworks no matter where we are. In some ways, the virtual provides increased accessibility.
“At the same time, viewing an exhibition online is not quite the same. We cannot smell the linseed oil of a painting, or experience the texture of a cardboard sculpture or weaving in the same way. Some sensuousness, or tactility that is ever-present in our physical experience, is lost. Still, we gain experience and encounter ideas through the virtual exchange. Expansive distances between people and ideas simultaneously expand and collapse.”
The 2020 installment showcases 32 artists. The online gallery offers access to their selected works and artist’s statements, along with their respective locations and websites. Visitors to the exhibit site can also vote for the Viewer’s Choice Award, learn more about the show and read letters from jurors Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner.
“Reality of the pandemic hits hard everywhere,” wrote Killam, lamenting the less-than-ideal experience of viewing art in a virtual context. “With that framework imposed, artists still have options: The art store sells paint online, the collection of intriguing materials in the garage hasn’t collected too much dust, the construction site down the road is churning out fresh scrap material, a box of screws still costs three bucks, and who said you can’t paint or draw on reclaimed cardboard? Difficult circumstances bring out the best in artists, don’t they?”
View the “North of the 45th” exhibition here.