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Third Biennial Juried Exhibition on View at the OAC Riffe Gallery

Third Biennial Juried Exhibition on View at the Riffe Gallery

The 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition is the third in a series of biennial juried exhibitions put on display at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery. The show occurs Nov. 7, 2019 – Jan. 10, 2020 and features a variety of workshops and artist talks. Artists in the show come from 18 counties across the state of Ohio, from Montgomery to Lucas, Muskingum to Cuyahoga.

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Description automatically generatedUnlike a curated exhibition, a juried show such as the Biennial is submission-based rather than selection-based. In a curated show, one or more curators will pursue artists and select pieces to be exhibited from a collection. Curators will often visit studios and talk with artists to learn more about their techniques and inspirations. A group of artists will usually be included in a curated show and will each have a few pieces on display. On the contrary, a juried show occurs when an artist responds to a call for submissions with the desire to have one or more pieces selected for a show. A panel of experienced and knowledgeable jurors will then score all submitted works and narrow down their choices. Once all judging is finalized, artists will be notified of their entry into the exhibition.

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Description automatically generatedJuried shows are also unique in the way the pieces interact with one another. In most curated exhibitions, overarching themes will be present between pieces and artists. In a juried show, however, gallery guests are invited to have conversations with the pieces and create their own 

connections between the works. There is usually no master theme, and the creation process and inspiration behind each work varies greatly. An example of this present in the 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition is the relationship between Allison Hope Smith’s “Sweeper Loop” and Ian Welch’s “No Safe Harbor.” Welch’s piece depicts eggs sitting inside a bird’s nest. These eggs are symbolically “at-home” in their avian resting place among the twigs and branches. The elliptic shapes of these eggs are having a conversation with the wrapped vacuum cord in “Sweeper Loop,” which features long, sweeping ovals in the foreground of her tapestry. The two pieces vary in size and medium, yet they relate to each other in the visual symbology of ovals and the metaphorical conversation about what “home” means. 

A circuit boardDescription automatically generatedGuests can make multiple connections between pieces, and one is not more inherently correct than another. One might also make an association between Smith’s piece and Roger Williams’ “Deconstructed Ellipse.” At first glance, these two pieces may not seem to have any glaring similarities. After engaging with the piece, though, one can see the delicate loops of Smith’s vacuum translated into the bold, bright, and intentional ellipses of Williams’ piece. Both works engage the viewer with detailed, round patterns popping from the canvas. While Smith’s piece has a conversation with Welch’s about the idea of “home,” it may have a different discussion with Williams’ piece. This is the beauty and freedom of a juried show such as the Biennial; viewers are not wrong, but they are encouraged to delve into the works both individually and relationally.

With 72 pieces on display, guests can return to this show time and time again and perceive new meanings and experiences with the work present. If guests are interested in learning more from the artists, they are encouraged to attend one of the gallery’s artist talks associated with the exhibition. Artists presenting as part of this programming include Margarita Benitez, Markus Vogl, Kristina Bogdanov, Mandy Peltier, and Kristine Donnelly. Allison Hope Smith will be leading a workshop for participants of all ages on Saturday, Dec. 11. Finally, poet Chuck Salmons will be guiding participants through a creative writing workshop on Thursday, Jan. 9. For more information or to RSVP to these events, click HERE.

The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse on High Street in Downtown Columbus. Like the Riffe Gallery on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. 

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Alexa Demyan, 2018-19 OAC Riffe Gallery Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow

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