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2009 New England Art Awards (?)

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Last night, James Nadeau, Christian Holland, Greg Cook and I met to record an episode for Bad At Sports. We used the recent AICA Awards as our starting point for discussing the state of the arts in New England -- I'll post a link to the piece once Bad At Sports runs it.

Toward the end of the conversation, Greg proposed a new awards event, since AICA will not be hosting their annual awards anymore. This morning he has a post on the topic, asking his readers to contribute their thoughts on the matter.

Central to his proposition, though, is a very important question:

What are such awards for? And it’s worth asking the same of the various local round-up shows like the Boston Center for the Arts’ annual Drawing Show, the DeCordova Annual, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art’s biennial Foster Prize, the Portland Museum of Art’s Biennial, the Fitchburg Art Museum’s "New England/New Talent" show.

On one hand, they’re about celebrating good art and/or exhibitions here. It’s very worthwhile to have events in which we get together and honor what we’re doing right. They’re also about signaling what we’d like to see more of, signaling the direction in which we’d like to see the art scene go. That’s the part I keep wondering about.

What would make the local art scene better, sharper, more intriguing, more exciting? For the art community, as well as for the community as a whole? How might awards help nudge us in that direction?

So, to repeat Greg's question -- what do we expect of an awards event honoring artists and exhibitions? For that matter, what do we expect of the Oscars or the Grammy's? Is it simply affirmation that our subculture has achieved certain measures of quality, or just to pat ourselves on the back? Can awards foster future trends, encourage better work, and encourage a stronger scene? Or are they simply a showcase for insiders to pat each other on the back?

Feel free to comment here or at Greg's blog.

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About Author

Matthew Nash is the founder of Big Red & Shiny. He is Associate Professor of Photography and New Media at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and was the 2011-12 Chair of the University Faculty Assembly. Nash is half of the artist collaborative Harvey Loves Harvey, who are currently represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston and have exhibited in numerous venues since 1992.

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