WILMINGTON – Lines snaked along the sidewalk around the parking lot of the Cameron Art Museum for 24 hours last Friday into Saturday as artists vied for a chance to have their work accepted into the museum’s open call for “State of the Art/Art of the State.”
Held every three years, the 2020 event was pushed due to Covid-19 and delayed again in 2021. The 2022 exhibit opens to the public Saturday, Apr. 9, featuring 776 pieces of 2D and 3D works. Paintings, photography, fiber art, multimedia and more were created by artists 18 and older currently living in or native to North Carolina.
It drew interest from as far away as Asheville, Charlotte, and Raleigh/Durham, according to CAM officials.
“Artists waited in line for hours but rarely complained,” spokesperson Matt Budd said.
The museum staff programmed various events throughout the marathon art call, to keep participants engaged. There was music, poetry, spoken word, as well as yoga and tai-chi classes.
Artists also had the opportunity to meet with nationally renowned curators and speak one-on-one about their works. This year’s curators included Alejo Benedetti from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Dr. Maia Nuku from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Michael Rooks from the High Museum of Art Atlanta.
“This is a rare educational forum for artists to gain insight into their work, and affords them a vital chance to be seen and heard,” Anne Brennan, executive director of Cameron Art Museum, said in a museum press release.
The art was not judged for entry into the exhibit and every contemporary piece was accepted. CAM curator Bob Unchester installed the art immediately in the 24-hour timeframe, with the help of 65 volunteers and 25 CAM staff.
One intake volunteer, Jan Wutkowski — known for her millinery work and classes she teaches at CAM — prepared for her midnight to 4 a.m. shift by getting some shuteye earlier than normal.
“I went to bed at 5 p.m. so that I could come in and do it,” she told a crowd during a member’s only tour early Friday evening. “It’s so interesting to me to actually now see the work on the wall of the people that I talked to. I’m going to have to make a few trips back to see it all.”
Among the vast scope is a Wutkowski original. Titled “Feels Like the Ocean” — she named it after a remark a friend made after she posted her work to social media — the fiber art is made of various teal, green, blue and beige layers that look like the shore.
Wutkowski said it took 14 to 16 hours to complete the multimedia piece, which she started in December. It’s made up of linen, silk, scorched paper, even toilet paper rolls and cardboard dipped in ink and natural dyes. Broken shells are embedded to look like a bird flying over the ocean.
“Some of it is hand-stitched, some of it is sort of reshaped and done on a sewing machine,” she said.
The fabric that creates the landscape has movement, with frayed strings weaving or hanging freely, seemingly to mimic waves. The material was pulled from Wutkowski’s bags of fabric scraps she has accumulated throughout the years in hat-making. She said when she decided to start the piece, she had no real blueprint for what she was going for; instead she let the fabrics guide her.
“I just start putting things together and the next thing I knew, it was an ocean,” Wutkowski said.
CAM reported 2,000 visitors came through the museum doors from 5 p.m. on Apr. 1 to 5 p.m. on Apr. 2, whether to watch the performances or to have work viewed by a curator and hung in CAM’s Hughes wing. Work covers 4,000 square feet of wall space, with 50 pedestals, multiple platforms and several shelves housing pottery, sculptures and even furniture.
“State of the Art/Art of the State” will remain on display through Sept. 15. A $5 surcharge will be added to admission for the duration of the exhibit to help mitigate financial losses CAM incurred from the pandemic.
“Plus it offsets costs for an open-call exhibition that had no entry fee,” Budd added.
The exhibit is made possible in part by the Thomas S. Kenan Foundation.
“For all of us, it is to experience the power and incomparable beauty of community across the entire state of North Carolina,” Brennan continued in the release. “Look what we are capable of when we work together!”
Scroll to see photos of the exhibit:
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