Sometimes the stars just magically align and good karma results. That’s what happened when Warwick Museum of Art (WMOA) and Southeast New England Film Festival (SENE) met last summer to talk about partnering for an art and film exhibit. At first glance the two organizations seem far apart on the arts spectrum, but they found common ground because the lines between fine arts and digital arts continue to blur.
“What is digital art?” Anyone who goes to the local multiplex has seen movies evolve during the past 30 years from straightforward narrative on film to digital, special-effects extravaganzas. Fine arts have also evolved: photographs are now routinely featured in art exhibits, and digital technology lets artists push the boundaries of creative expression. These shifting boundaries are what captured the interest of WMOA and SENE.
“Exploring Digital Arts” attempts to show how technology can be used for creative self-expression.
“We wanted to see how regional artists are using digital technology now,” explained WMOA program director Jessica Caldarone. “Our Call for Entries was very general so the artists could interpret it as they wanted and submit work that was personal and straddled boundaries.”
Juror Stephen Subotnick, a renowned animator and filmmaker who teaches at RISD, shared his insights on digital art in the exhibit introduction: “Fifty years ago, the only access artists had to computers was at universities and laboratories, but digital technology is now a normal part of the artist’s toolbox – sometimes visible and sometimes invisible.”
Warwick artist Krzysztof Mathews’ digital toolbox won him an Excellence Award. His piece “Straik Falls,” which he calls a virtual art print, was called “masterfully composed … strong cinematic qualities recall animated film, science fiction and comic books” by the juror. Mathews uses found objects to create unique, 3D sculptures; then he draws them with CAD software and spins them in virtual space to add realistic lighting effects; color adds depth and dramatic impact to the final compositions which, do indeed, recall stills from animated films.
The other Excellence Award was won by Judy Salvadore, Saunderstown, for her digital photo “Blue Blood.” It was selected because “each element of the collage is distinct and defined but nothing is overstated,” noted the juror, and “its symmetry, centrality and white background create an image that’s a study in naturalism.” In fact, the piece looks like a modern version of the traditional sailors’ valentine – and some art lover will surely want it for their own home!
Honorable Mentions were awarded to: “Southern Sky” a quietly mysterious digital photo by Natalya Pluzhnikov of Providence; “Water Flora” a dynamic, surrealistic digital photo on metal by artist Ruth Clegg of East Greenwich; “High Tea and the Help, the Children” a beautifully drawn charcoal illustration digitally printed on fabric by Deborah Baronas of Barrington; and Odessa Cozzolino of East Greenwich for “Hips: A Study,” a small book of portraits made with an iPhone that intimately acquaints the viewer with each sitter.
An Art Film Series is also part of the exhibit and offers a completely different digital visual experience. All of the award-winning films were provided by SENE from its film festival archives, and they run the gamut from 4-minute animated shorts to 56 minutes spent with staff from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as they reveal secrets about beloved artworks.
Art Film Series will be shown on Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m., starting tonight with “Hidden Treasures: Stories from a Great Museum,” a behind-the-scenes look at the Metropolitan Museum with revealing tales about priceless artworks from staff and continuing April 2 with “The Longest Story of Bilbao Ever Painted,” portraits of elderly Basque citizens who talk about their lives while their portraits are being painted. The series continues on Tuesdays through April 23.
The Art Film Series is open to the public and there’s plenty of free parking behind WMOA and Warwick City Hall. A $3 donation will be taken at the door each evening, and more information is available on Facebook or by calling WMOA during regular hours at 737-0010.