Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery has opened its “2022 Midwest Regional Exhibition,” which was open to artists living and working in the region.
The Midwest exhibition includes about 60 works from 44 artists in mediums such as painting, drawing, fiber, photography, sculpture, ceramic and printmaking. It was juried by visual artist Kim Rae Taylor, an associate professor of fine art at the University of Cincinnati Clermont College.
Taylor answered the following questions by email. Responses have been edited.
Q. What should visitors expect to see when they come to the “2022 Midwest Regional Exhibition”?
A. Visitors this year will see a broad range of contemporary art employing a diverse range of media and approaches through painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, fiber, ceramics, photography and more. Artists are clearly finding creative ways in which to explore their materials while addressing important topics relevant to the Midwest region and beyond.
Q. Is there anything that Midwest artists seem to draw on that makes their work stand out as coming from this region? If you curated a show called “2022 Southwest Regional Exhibition,” for example, would there be a noticeable difference in the tone or types of work you would likely see submitted?
A. Some artists use materials extracted directly from the Midwest land, including wood, and clay. There are images that capture iconic elements of the region, whether landscape, architecture, or animals. These nods to the region are both overt and subtle. (I mention a few of these artists in the juror statement.) Artists who work within this vast swath of the middle part of the United States, are also global citizens, and many are addressing universal concerns like climate change, social justice, consumer culture, etc.
I don't know if this selection of work would clearly differentiate from work created by artists in the Southwest. However, I've been an artist-in-residence at an art space in southeastern Florida since August 2021, and I definitely notice how Florida-based artists often reflect the environment through the work they create. Location, sense of place, and connection to a geographical region, seem likely to inform all artists on some level.
Q. As an artist that has been in the Midwest for two decades, is there anything from the region that informs your own work?
A. As a Cincinnati artist for the last 20 years, I've felt incredibly fortunate to live in a city that's very supportive of the arts, and it's home to so many different types of artists. I know I've been influenced by this creative environment, and I always appreciate the easy access to experience art in all kinds of spaces, whether small galleries or major museums. Fort Wayne also demonstrates how these vibrant pockets of art can be found in Midwestern cities, and I'm sure you'd agree that Artlink, along with Fort Wayne Museum of Art and University of Saint Francis gallery, to name a few, are great examples.
Q. Artlink released a statement saying you hope people “will find inspiration as you view the work in this exhibition.” What, if any, inspiration have you drawn from it?
A. I responded to so much of the work in a surprisingly visceral way. I think a lot had to do with how it served as a reminder of art's capacity to provide something positive, even hopeful, no matter what it's communicating or how it has been created. After two years of pandemic life, seeing this sampling of what artists have been thinking about, putting their time into creating, it just made me feel really good. I know that probably sounds vague, and certainly not eloquent, but viewing the submissions from artists in this region truly demonstrated to me just how much art does matter, even in times of so much uncertainty.
Q. If you could host a talk show, who would be your first guest?
A. First of all, I think I'd make a terrible talk show host! And this is a tough question! If I were to magically find myself in this position right now, I'd definitely want to host a panel featuring artists from this year's “Regional Exhibition,” along with Ellen Mensch, exhibition coordinator of Artlink. We could all just sit and have an informal conversation about what it means to be an artist working in this moment in time in the Midwest.
If you go
What: 2022 Midwest Regional Exhibition; Postcard Exhibition and Sale
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; ends Feb. 6
Where: Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Auer Center for Arts and Culture, 300 E. Main St.
Admission: Free, donations accepted