In between the Andrew Wyeth and the Dale Chihuli chandelier, I am proud and honored to announce that a wonderful exhibition opens this month at the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut. Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration.
I was asked two years ago to curate a show by the Low Illustration Committee at the museum that had a focus on artists that used digital means in part or wholly to help create their work. I've been busy and kept putting it off, putting it off, putting it off. I finally started getting some breathing room here and decided to go full-boar on this earlier this year and get this project moving.
To create a show like Pixelated for this museum and its visitors is quite a break-through for this museum. The Director, committee and staff were thrilled about our initial conversations. I spoke with them about a few of the artists who had already accepted invitations to exhibit and they thought that having the exhibition run for six months would be appropriate. I was shocked that they would put that much stock in this show but they felt it was going to be a hit.
I wanted to touch upon many different facets of digital use in this exhibition. Selecting artists who are documented as the earliest pioneers of using digital in illustration, to artists who've used traditional methods for over 30 years only recently switching to digital to very young artists born in the age of digital art making. Varied styles, part digital/part traditional techniques and software use also played a role in selection to try to create a full, informative and robust exhibition.
I wanted to bring this show to the next level by adding a digital kiosk. It's one thing to look at a single image on the wall but if I wanted to have a show that part of its focus was around digital use and knowing that many of the artists here have made animations and films, there needed to be an outlet so visitors can see artists work in other contexts. So there is a kiosk where visitors can find their favorite artists in the exhibit and view an extended portfolio and, where available, see animations, videos and films including step-by-step processes of some of the artists creating their work. This will cater to everyone from the student visitor to the 'civilian' museum goer that maybe doesn't fully understand what an illustrator does or how they use technology to make the work they see around them everyday.
When the ideas started coming together, the work from the artists poured in and the enthusiasm of the museum about all the different stages of this project, I was elated that this show was actually going to happen. Regardless of how the work was made, the work stands on its own. It really is an amazing collection.
One detail in particular that stands out as a wonderful and classy thing during this process: the museum decided that to help make this project happen efficiently, they would collect all the digital files from the artists and print and frame all the work on the artists behalf. I made a couple of trips down to the museum to make sure that the quality of the prints were where I expected them to be and they are just phenominal.
I recently went down to the museum again to do some final nitpicking of lighting, labels, kiosk and other details and I am extremely pleased and proud of this show. The museum is thrilled and while eves-dropping on some of the visitors while I was there, I heard some great comments about how thought-proking, unique and wonderful the art is.
It's been an amazing time working with the museum staff on this project and of course, the show wouldn't happen and be the quality and level it is without this list of phenomenal artists:
Alessandro Gottardo (Shout!)
Jason Kernevich & Dustin Summers (Heads of State)
My only regret and apologies to others and my friends is that I couldn't bring in more artists that would fit in wonderfully for the show. Unfortunately, space was limited. It gnawed at me the entire time I was working on this that I could have easily tripled the size of the show. If my next exhibition idea flies in the next couple of years, I may be able to get my wish.
Finally, a super huge thank you to the artists paticipating, Murray Tinkelman and Low Illustration Committee at the museum for putting their faith into me - but also - I MUST thank Anna Rogulina, Assitant to the Director for being wonderful and keeping things together. She has done an beautiful job and I cannot thank her enough for all the work she put into the show and helping me get it all together. A huge thanks also goes to John Urgo for framing and hanging the show, Melissa Nardiello for working on the press releases, marketing and working with Long Lin on the kiosk part of the show and everyone else on staff that had a hand in making this happen. This show wouldn’t come together if it were not for all of them and working as a well oiled team.
The Opening Reception is Friday, August 3rd 5:30-8pm. It will be wonderful to see you there.
The Press Release:
Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration
Collectively, the artists participating in Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration have been the makers of some of the most recognizable images in today’s visual culture.
July 21-December 9, 2012
Reception: Friday, August 3, 2012, 5:30-8 p.m.
New Britain, Conn., - Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration will bring 25 illustrations by the most widely recognized and awarded illustrators working today to the Low Illustration Gallery at the New Britain Museum of American Art from July 21–December 9. Curated by Scott Bakal, Award winning artist and professor at the Massachussetts College of Art and Design, the exhibition will open a window into the world of the modern illustrator and the tools and techniques that have transformed the face of illustration in the 21st century. All of the the works presented in the exhibition were created in part or in whole with digital tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Corel Painter and other computer peripherals.
The roster of featured artists spans generations from the most seasoned illustrators with over three decades of experience to some of the youngest and newest names in the field. A number of the artists have been using digital means throughout their entire career, while others have expanded their traditional approach to include digital methods or have tranformed their practice altogether.
Collectively, the artists participating in Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration have been the makers of some of the most recognizable images in today’s visual culture. Beyond presenting singular works by Melinda Beck, Mark Bender, Richard Borge, Harry Campbell, Marcos Chin, Lisa Desimini, Leo Espinosa, Alessandro Gottardo, Tomer Hanuka, Jason Kernevich & Dustin Summers, Todd Lockwood, William Low, Matt Mahurin, Victo Ngai, Edel Rodriguez, Zina Saunders, Yuko Shimizu, Chris Spollen, Nancy Stahl, Brian Stauffer, Katherine Streeter, Dale Stephanos, Jack Tom, James Yang, and Heidi Younger, the exhibition will feature interactive displays with digital galleries and video reels of artists at work to extend viewing opportunities. By providing a glimpse into artists’ creative use of digital media to animate and enhance not only two-dimensional artworks, but also movies, commercials and music videos, Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration celebrates the intersections between art and technology to showcase the exciting possibilities of contemporary illustration.
Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration will be on view from July 21–December 9, 2012. A reception is scheduled for Friday, August 3, 2012 from 5:30-8 p.m. Please check nbmaa.org for films, lectures symposium and additional exhibition programming.
New Britain Museum of American Art
56 Lexington Street
New Britain, CT 06052
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday: noon-5 p.m.
Closed on Mondays and national holidays.