Juror 2015: David Ulrich

Juror’s Statement

David Ulrich

David Ulrich

I believe in the power of art. In my experience, the creative impulse — along with our capacity for attention, empathy, and responsibility — help shape our most distinctive human characteristics. Through art, we can illuminate and share our most defining experiences, engage powerful ideas, offer edifying glimpses of subtle realities, challenge existing assumptions and beliefs, and hold a mirror to the society in which we find ourselves. Whether creativity arises in response to beauty, outrage, thoughtfulness, or the fruits of a well-lived life, art can enhance our lives and teach us about how others see the world. The arts can help us live together in greater harmony and compassion — if we let them. We must learn to view art as much more than mere decoration, economics, or personal vanity.

Successful works of art often contain an ineffable quality, something that you can’t quite define but that embody a certain presence and a living sense. When artist Paul Klee completed a painting, he would simply hold up his hand next to the work. If the painting could maintain its life and integrity in the face of the marvels of the human hand, he considered his efforts to be successful. I can think of no better inner measure to evaluate works of art, or indeed, any of the fruits of human endeavor.

The process I engage in jurying an exhibition is quite straightforward. First, I eliminate clichés and works that are imitative or lack meaningful content. I then select works based on technical expertise, mastery of the visual language, and depth or originality of content and vision. Show me how you see the world, what you care about or think deeply about, and where your passions lie. I favor works with a strong and personal point of view where the artist reveals a resonant connection to their chosen medium or subject. All of us engaged in creative pursuits in Hawai‘i need to guard against being seduced by the sheer physical beauty of these islands. Can we become like nature in our creations through the intelligence of the human hand, heart, and mind rather than merely replicate the surface features of the natural world?

I will strive to help find (or uncover) a regional vision or voice, and I will work to be fair-minded and inclusive. I ask the artists to take risks, look deeply within and without, and infuse your works with the elegance and power of your most salient impressions and an authentic manner of seeing and creating.

Art Maui Symposium 2014

David Ulrich gave a presentation for the Art Maui 2014 Symposium.

Juror’s bio

David Ulrich is an active photographer and writer whose work has been published in numerous books and journals including Aperture, Parabola, MANOA, and Sierra Club publications. David’s photographs have been exhibited internationally in over seventy-five one-person and group exhibitions in museums, galleries, and universities. Currently, he is a core faculty member for Pacific New Media, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. His previous positions include: Professor and Chair of the Art Department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Chair of the Photography Department at The Art Institute of Boston, and Executive Director of Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center. He earned a BFA degree from The Museum School of Fine Arts / Tufts U. in Boston and an MFA degree from The Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

David is the author of The Widening Stream: the Seven Stages of Creativity (Beyond Words / Simon and Schuster) and the co-author of Through Our Eyes: A Photographic View of Hong Kong by its Youth. He was one of three photographers commissioned for the book, Kaho‘olawe: Na Leo O Kanaloa (The Voices of Kanaloa), and the exhibition, Kahoolawe: Rebirth of a Sacred Hawaiian Island, which featured images of the island and completed its exhibition tour at the Smithsonian in 2002.

As an advocate for the arts and creativity, David has written extensively about the creative impulse and visual perception. He is a Consulting Editor for Parabola magazine and has recently completed a book, Longing for Light: into the Heart of Vision, which is currently with his agent seeking publication. He founded the statewide juried exhibition, Contemporary Photography in Hawai’i, sponsored by Pacific New Media, and juried the exhibition for the first four years. For more information please visit David’s website.

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