Albert Abdul-Barr Wang

Thank you to all of the wonderful student artists that submitted to #NewVisions2020: A Student Show. It was such an honor to engage so many interesting and thought provoking images. My initial juror’s statement challenge “to put forward your most experimental and risk filled images” was met full force and made a significant impact on what images I ultimately chose to include in this exhibit.

The selection of the images and their purposeful sequencing was a challenge to my curatorial role as well. I felt it was important to choose images that resisted traditional categories and welcomed re-contextualization with other images in hopes of bringing to light shared themes, moods, and styles that resonate with the artists’ experiences in the present socio-political landscape — a virus infected landscape. The sequenced order allows the sum of the images to take on more meaning than interpreting the images on their own as isolated, singular images existing in their own universe. The First Place image works as an amazing endpoint of the sequence and it truly took courage to submit that image — it satisfies the risk of my original call, holds up as a unique and expressive artwork in itself, and plays well with others.

In the last six weeks, for many of us, our days have been dominated by a sense of rapid change, vulnerability, isolation, hope and fear facing an unknown health threat as well as an ever increasing anxiety confronting the deterioration of our normal perception of time and self. Time has become indecisive, mundane, mediated and hyper repetitive. This has resulted in our everyday stories changing, causing distortion and disruption, which in turn changes how and what our images communicate.

I feel these 50 images powerfully reflect our communal attempt to negotiate a slowly unfolding existential crisis unlike any other in our shared histories. Time and subjectivity are changing and with them the reliable narratives of yesterday and tomorrow have lost their structure and meanings. These images, from such talented emerging artists, are honest and at times beautifully raw — their representational power lies in their authors’ unrelenting courage to engage and document the value of “Being” in a destabilized present. These images are about enduring and facing the unknown — what was once unimaginable is reality.

— Paul Thulin-Jimenez