This is Sandy Brown Jensen, and you’re listening to Viz City, KLCC’s arts review program. It’s August in Eugene where it’s all about the Mayor’s Art Show and the Eugene Biennial.
At the Eugene Biennial, which you can pop in to see at the Karin Clarke Gallery at 760 Willamette, Wednesdays through Saturdays, there were eight prizes awarded. The one that is perhaps the most unexpected fun is the People’s Choice Award. This year, it went to a fabric artist, Margot Lovinger, for a large piece called “Artemis,” made of fabric, thread, and leather cord.
I use a four-step process for looking at art, and I'll show you how that works on a piece like “Artemis.”
First, I take time to really look. Even a mere thirty seconds is way longer than your average Instagram scroller. I ask myself what I notice, and I see a young blonde woman in a simple, short blue jumper. She’s pulling a bow with a notched arrow. I look longer, and suddenly I see two wolves, a moose, and a raccoon hiding in the forest, watching her.
Secondly, I try to describe in words what I see. Now I’m looking beyond the subject matter and really see that this isn’t a painting--this is another art form entirely. I see details of the stitchery, the way textured fabrics have been cut and composed to create a layered, complex forest, as well as the contours of rocks and shadows.
Really, for the first time, I start to feel amazement at the amount of time, craftsmanship and artistic design this piece took.
My third step is to interpret and assign meaning to the work of art. This young woman with the bow represents the Greek goddess Artemis, also known as Diana. I know she’s the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, forests, as well as the protector of both chastity and childbirth. In this image, she's in hunting mode. You’ll bring your own ideas to the art, but for me, the wild animals are hiding from the hunter. I feel the irony between her dual roles as both a protector of and hunter of animals. However, I believe Lovinger was trying to communicate a strong role model for young women when she created her “Artemis.”
Lastly, I try to connect what I see to myself and my community. That’s easy: In ancient times, Artemis was the favorite goddess among the rural people, and this Artemis won the People’s Choice Award. And that’s the power of the goddess archetype!
You can see the Mayor’s Art Show online and the Eugene Biennial at the Karin Clarke through the end of the month.
Viz City is co-produced by Terry Way and Sandy Brown Jensen.