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Bound & Unbound 6

Juror - Melissa Stern



Melissa Stern is an artist, professor, and journalist living in NYC.

She has worked in sculpture, photography, and drawing for over 30 years, exhibiting throughout the U.S., as well as Europe and Asia. Starting in 2012, her multi-media installation exhibition, The Talking Cure, has traveled to museums around the States, and will open at the Fuller Museum of Art in 2021. Her work is featured in a number of prominent corporate and museum collections, including: News Corporation, JP Morgan/Chase, Arkansas Art Center, American Museum of Ceramic Art, Racine Art Museum, International Center for Collage, Bucknell University, Library of Congress: Rare Books and Special Collections, Museum of Art and Design, Arario Gallery, and the Weisman Art Museum.

With a background in anthropology, Stern’s work reflects both non-Western and outsider-art influences. Her drawings, collages, and figurative sculptures are richly drawn and deeply layered, with quirky, often dark humor.

Stern has taught and lectured throughout the New York area, including the School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Design, and NYU. She was the lead art critic for New York Press and City Arts from 2006-2014 and is currently a contributing writer for Hyperallergic, Romanov Grave, and Vasari 21.

Juror’s Statement Bound and Unbound VI

In the summer of 2020, a strange and unprecedented summer of quarantine and isolation, I was delighted to receive an invitation from Sarah A. Hanson-Pareek, Curator of Digital Projects and Photographs at the University of South Dakota to juror the 2020 version of Bound and Unbound VI.  This is an international exhibition that focuses on the use of altered books and printed materials as the basis for the exhibition.

The entries that arrived spanned artistic genres and materials; a fascinating collection of artistic visions. I was most curious to see if there were works submitted that reflected the turmoil of the past year. My task, of course was to winnow this wealth of creativity into a cohesive exhibition.

As an artist and curator I am always interested in the way in which other artists use materials in unusual ways, ways that subvert our expectations. Using a book or text as a jumping off point for artists is a rich beginning. But only the beginning. A challenge that is on the surface so simple opens the door to myriad of solutions. Using a wide range of materials and artistic approaches the artists in Bound and UnboundVI explored the use of materials ranging from glass to fabric, photography to metal. My own interest in materiality and unexpected solutions to aesthetic issues led me to make the choices that I did. During the process I learned a tremendous amount about how this group of artists all approached the same problem.

The question that kept coming to mind as I reviewed the images for this exhibition was –what led each artist to choose the book that they did? Were the choices random, purposeful, emotional or calculated? And then in turn, did the alteration of the book reflect the content, run in parallel to it or contradict it? The submissions were ‘blind” that is, I did not read any of the artist statements or more than a cursorary description of the objects. I am eager to view the final exhibition, read the artist statements and learn more about the rich and diverse group of artists that have made this exhibition.

Many thanks to Sarah A. Hanson-Pareek, the staff of the University Library/Archives and Special Editions. And of course, to all of the artists who submitted work to the exhibition.

Melissa Stern, March 2021

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