Posted on: 2016-07-01 15:22:00
Biennial exhibitions, translated from the Italian term biennale, popularized by the international exhibitions of contemporary art that began in Venice in 1895, occur every two years. After the success of the Venice exhibitions, the idea quickly spread, with major biennial exhibitions popping up throughout Europe and the United States, and later in major cities across the globe. The concept evokes images of galleries crowded with critics, patrons, and artists eager to witness and discuss the latest innovations, experimentations, and controversies in the visual arts. Today, biennial exhibitions continue to serve as a proving ground and a platform for creative expression by contemporary artists.
The Everson Biennial has taken many forms over its long history and morphed out of a series of local annual exhibitions that began in 1896 and were developed by the original director of the Syracuse Museum of Art, George Fisk Comfort. Over the next century, the exhibitions spread in scope to include larger and larger territories. In 1931 the annual exhibition’s juried entries were accepted from artists within a radius of 100 miles around Syracuse. In 1952, it grew to include all of Central New York as the Syracuse Regional. In an era when the art world’s focus laid strictly within the boundaries of New York City, the Everson Biennial drew attention to the developments in the visual arts taking place outside the city’s borders.
In 1974, the exhibition took its final form as a biennial exhibition of works from artists all over the Central New York region. Open to entries from all artists in the region, around 90 selections juried by esteemed local artists and art experts were exhibited in the Everson’s main galleries. Rather than featuring the area’s best-known artists, the first biennial sought out Central New York’s emerging talents. Entries in the form of paintings, prints, drawings, collage, photographs, and sculpture were judged and awarded. Many of the entrants went on to successful careers as professional artists representing the region. In the decades since, the Everson Biennial has adopted several themes and formats—from open and juried to focused and curated—but has always remained faithful to its promotion of regional talent.
In the spirit of Central New York’s historic ties to the evolution of ceramic and fiber arts, the Everson Museum of Art’s 2016 Biennial exhibition, Kindred Beasts, features curated works from Joe Fyfe, Jeffrey Gibson, Sarah Hewitt, Liz Lurie, Matt Nolen, Sarah Saulson, Bobby Silverman, and Linda Sormin. Guest curators Sequoia Miller and Sheila Pepe hand-selected this group of artists who live and practice in the state of New York as a representation of the varied but interconnected capacity within ceramics and fiber arts, mediums with the potential to be both aesthetic and functional. At once art and craft, ceramics and fiber arts allow for contemporary interpretation and unconventional manipulation while maintaining strong ties to tradition.
Kindred Beasts runs from June 4 until Augst 28, 2016.