Artistic expressions for the 2019 exhibition were considered from 27 states – from Tennessee to Texas and California to Florida – and seven countries, in addition to the U.S. In all, there were 325 entries from 116 artists. Eighty-two works of 62 artists were accepted, juried by activist and illustrator Sue Coe.
“Striking was our very first entry ever from Hong Kong and its profound cry for assistance and awareness of their plight in protesting human rights violations and abuses by the Chinese government,” Co-director of the exhibit, Barbara Dyer said, adding that the work “truly represents the best of socially and politically engaged art.”
While global issues are reflected in the seventh annual “FL3TCH3R Exhibit,” domestic strife this year is at the forefront of the entering artists’ minds.
“We have received more work that shows the frustration that artists and individuals feel regarding the current U.S. administration and political demeanor,” says co-director Wayne Dyer, an ETSU Art & Design professor. “We anticipated in years past that we would see this, however, it has blossomed this year. Issues include environment, social justice, abuse, racism, political issues, women's issues, gun violence, children's issues, immigration and the list goes on.”
The Dyers’ son, Fletcher, inspired the exhibit. Fletcher, who passed away in 2009 at age 22, was an ETSU bachelor of fine arts senior in graphic design. Through his art, Fletcher Dyer liked to awaken others’ critical thinking about current events and social and political issues, the Dyers say. He encouraged others to propose bold visual statements and make a difference with their art.
This year’s juror – illustrator Sue Coe – is a longtime activist, known for her stark renderings of victims and their tormentors. Her work includes illustrations of violence by the Ku Klux Klan, famine in Africa, AIDS and terrorism in Northern Ireland, as well as politics and “factory farms.” Coe also has long been a crusader against the use of animals in industry, medical research and genetic engineering and continues to raise the public's awareness of the abuse of living things through her visual art and books.
“We chose Sue Coe because for years, she has been an artist and illustrator who is an avid activist focusing animal rights but she also has explored other political issues, such as prisons, AIDS and war,” Barb Dyer says. “We believe she has a fine-tuned sensitivity toward social and politically expressed visual arts and will curate a wonderful collection of works.”
Coe will be on campus for a day to talk and meet with ETSU students in classrooms, as well as art critiques, and on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 5 p.m., her juror’s talk will precede the exhibit awards ceremony and reception at Reece Museum.
“We are looking forward to having Sue back on the ETSU campus,” says art professor Anita DeAngelis, who directs Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at ETSU, a “FL3TCH3R” co-sponsor. “Because of her artwork and writing in the realm of social justice, animal rights, AIDS/HIV – a lot of difficult subject matter – she really is the perfect juror for the ‘FL3TCH3R Exhibit.’ ”