Jurying the Hopper Prize was a privilege and a challenge with such high caliber work to review. This process introduced me to new artists working in a variety of mediums with diverse perspectives and approaches to art-making. The biggest challenge for me in jurying is not being able to see the work in person, but I found that even when viewing these works online I still got that curatorial spark, leading me down rabbit holes ending in an accumulation of open tabs to artist’s websites and Instagram accounts. All the works I reviewed were interesting and showed a high level of skill, but in the end the artists I kept coming back to were the ones that embraced vulnerability, revealing something about who they are, the human experience as a whole, and our contemporary moment.
These artists all make work that exudes tenderness and a deep care for community and their craft. Although these themes are universal and timeless, I found them particularly moving in the incredibly harsh and isolating time we find ourselves in. Lynnea Holland-Weiss’s paintings express tender moments of physical touch and embrace. The facial expressions and body language of her subjects capture grief, sadness, connectivity, and love - a relatable and deeply touching representation of being human. Susan Chen’s painting practice is an act of building community, inviting people she meets online through Asian American social media groups or community organizations to sit for portraits, reckoning with the lack of Asian and Asian American representation in Western portraiture. Painting herself and others is an exploration of Chen’s own identity and sense of self, done with rich layers and lush brush strokes.
The photography of Joey Solomon is raw, poignant, and beautiful. His work shares deeply personal subjects such as mental illness, sexuality, and family with an aching sweetness. Just as in Susan Chen’s work, Solomon brings visibility to subjects underrepresented in many art institutions and media. I appreciate the intimate pieces of themselves these artists have shared in their work. I am very grateful for the honor and privilege to select artists for the Hopper Prize, and I look forward to seeing how the artists’ work continues to develop.
Christine Koppes is the Curator and Director of Public Programs at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Koppes is dedicated to curating exhibitions that promote awareness and appreciation of contemporary art and culture with an emphasis on emerging and mid-career artists. Recent projects include Sense of Self (2019), a group exhibition of photographers who explore identity and selfhood through portraiture, as well as a collaboration with the LGBTQ Youth Space for programming and a supplemental exhibition. Koppes also curated Surreal Sublime (2018), which explored psychedelic landscapes, and Personal Alchemy (2020) an exhibition of three artists who use art as a tool for healing and combating anxiety. She has also organized multiple large site-specific installations with artists such as Tracey Snelling and Soo Sunny Park.
Koppes also manages the public programs at the ICA, which includes a lecture series called Talking Art and First Friday events that focus on performances and hands-on activities. In 2019 she introduced Art Hangs, a series of pop-up art events throughout downtown San Jose. She sees public programs as an opportunity to create more engaging art experiences and build stronger connections with the community. Koppes has lived and worked in the Bay Area for more than ten years. From 2013 to 2018 she was Assistant Curator of Exhibition and Programs at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, CA. She received her BA in Art History from the University of California, Berkeley.