I was truly excited about all the artists who applied for the Hopper Prize. Not only did I think that the the caliber of work so high, being able to see all the works together in one place allowed me to track some interesting connections. The range of applicants offer us a map of what is currently being explored and revealed in contemporary art practices, and the Hopper Prize represents a compelling chart. As I looked through all the applicants, I was delighted to see a few related themes percolate. Clever interdisciplinary and material rich practices, keen observational works that are translating our societal experiences with innovative methodologies, and an overarching sense of vulnerability and benevolence.
In order to hone in on the awardees, I found myself drawn to artists who are resolving their own abstract and formal visual vocabulary. Certainly both Nicholas Moenich and Trish Tillman are engaging with a lineage of abstraction, however I was enthusiastic about the ways in which they ground that knowledge in everyday experiences. There was something both familiar and slightly away from us in their works, and I was really sucked into that tension.
Moenich seems to be abstracting something recognizable, in some works it feels like he is contouring text or landscapes. But there is also a textile, haptic quality to his work that also feels akin to quilting and embroidery. They feel mysterious, and I loved that.
I was intrigued with the ways in which Tillman’s work felt ritualistic, and devotional. To me, it felt as though the works are tributes to loved ones, or cherished things. They are strong, like a rock n roll poster. But they are also childlike and full of tenderness. They drew me in, and I wondered about the stories they told.
Karen Patterson joined the Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) as their inaugural curator in July 2019. Prior to this appointment she was the Senior Curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) in 2012. Over the past seven years, Patterson has curated over fifty exhibitions, including major exhibitions such as Ray Yoshida’s Museum of Extraordinary Values, Ebony G.Patterson: Dead Treez, several critically-reviewed site specific installations such as Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck: Out, Out, Phosphene Candle, Things are What We Encounter: Dr.Charles Smith + Heather Hart. Her focus at JMKAC was also geared towards the curation of the Arts Center’s premier collection of folk art, self-taught art, and artist environments, work that culminated in an multi-tiered collaborative 2017 collections-based exhibitions series, The Road Less Traveled, which received praise by Hyperallergic as the year’s top exhibition. She completed her BA in folklore studies at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, and her Masters of Art Administration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Publications include: Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe (2019), Eugene Von Bruenchenhein: Mythologies (2017), Lee Godie: Self-Portraits (2015), Ray Yoshida’s Museum of Extraordinary Values (2013).