Additionally, she is a contributing author for American Art in the Columbus Museum: Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts and to The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Vol. 21, Art and Architecture, and she has published articles about Jane Austen and the visual arts in Persuasions, the journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Her most recent publications are The Currency of Taste: The Gibbons Georgian Silver Collection of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, a 132-page, full-color catalogue, and an article about her exhibition What Lies Beneath: Masonite and American Art of the Twentieth Century in the magazine American Art Review. Ms. Miller Zohn is a frequent lecturer on portraiture and decorative arts of the nineteenth century and is a past president and active member of the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC).
I would like to thank the Alexandria Museum of Art and Catherine M. Pears for inviting me to jury the 33rd September Competition. I enjoy being involved in these types of projects because they have introduced me to artists with whom I have collaborated on inspiring exhibitions at my own institutions. Judging this September Competition has been an unusual experience; the deadline for submissions was just a few days after the country had begun our lock down due to the COVID-19 virus, and the crisis caused this year’s exhibition to be solely virtual, a first for the AMoA.
The selection process consisted of reviewing over 450 fascinating entries to choose 50 for the exhibition. Although the artists’ names were not available to me during my evaluation, their identification numbers were visible, and my original intention was to choose works by 50 different applicants. However, the work of seven artists was so exceptional that I decided to include two of each of their pieces. I then chose the top three prize winners and the three honorable mentions from those 14 pieces. The virtual format precluded undertaking this final stage in person at the museum, but the submissions were well-photographed and I was able to make my decisions by looking closely at the digital images.
The art on virtual display in the 33rd September Competition exhibition was produced by confident and capable artists. In their work, they demonstrate excellence in craftsmanship and technical skill, strength of composition and form, and the competent handling of materials. Moreover, the works show innovation in the use of media, creativity in concepts, original artistic styles, and strong points of view. There are an unusually large number of outstanding figurative and mixed media pieces, and several works constitute snapshots of what artists were thinking as the pandemic overtook our lives.
When the museum sent me the complete information about my selections, I was surprised to learn that five out of six of the award-winning artists are women. This coincidental result is poetic justice during the Year of the Woman, celebrating the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which has been overshadowed by COVID-19. One hundred years ago, the influenza pandemic led to unexpected social changes that opened up opportunities for women and eventually led to the granting of women’s suffrage. Disasters can bring sweeping social changes, and in this current age of anxiety, artists help us to navigate our strange new world. I would like to compliment all of the artists who submitted to the 33rd September Competition and congratulate those whose work will be shown.
Kristen Miller Zohn