Chief Curator’s Exhibition Statement
Here we are: year FIVE of highlighting and celebrating emerging artists in the Sunshine State. What started out as an experimental project showcasing 6 artists’ work in 2017 has ballooned into an event that our community looks forward to (and we as a staff do, too). 5 years and 30 artists later, we are still going strong, as there seems to be no end to the fresh and exciting talent this state produces.
But before we get too nostalgic, let’s talk about this year’s stellar crop of artists. Fresh Squeezed is a statewide exhibition, and we cast the net via an online jurying system. This year, 130 artists applied for only five slots, making tough work for our selection panel. The panel looks for several criteria when viewing candidates for the exhibition: a unique voice, artistic skill, a cohesive body of work, and it never hurts to throw in some love for our state as well.
The artists who participated in Fresh Squeezed 5 deal with issues both intensely personal and universal in their practices. Brigitte Coovert’s delightful, irresistible sculptures engage the mind and the senses and practically beg to be touched (please do so, but gently). But behind the candy colors and slick textures lies a deeper theme of dealing daily with disease, demonstrating that something can be attractive and repellent simultaneously. Zoraye Cyrus uses her large-scale paintings and drawings as a platform to bring attention to issues related to difficulties faced by People of Color, while at the same time emphasizing and celebrating what it means to be a Black woman. Jacob Z. Wan pushes the limits of his traditional bookbinding skills, creating installations that address his sexuality in a room-sized yet intimate manner.
Removing the personal and focusing more on shared experiences, Carolina Alamilla draws on her memory of childhood swimming lessons to create engaging sculptures and photographs that invite the viewer to abandon worry and fear, and just….float. Photographer Justin Nolan, a Florida transplant, sees the oddities of our fine state, how it is not only a physical place, but also a myth, a marketable destination of Shamu-sized proportions. His works call on us to see our surroundings differently by erasing some of the context and leaving only props and backdrops.
In addition to these five artists, and to celebrate five years of Fresh Squeezed, we are thrilled to showcase the works of 25 “former squeezes”—artists who participated in Years 1 through 4. See what they are doing now, and what they’ve been up to since their first exhibition here at the Morean.
On behalf of the board and Staff of the Morean, I’d like to thank all the individuals and groups who have believed in this project from the beginning, providing encouragement, advice, and financial support. For five years we have been able to uplift emerging artists, sharing their work with our community, thanks to these people. Gratitude to our friends at the Gobioff Foundation, Smith & Associates Real Estate, and Jeff and Jennifer Lovelady and Lisa and Perry Everett for enabling us to say “yes” to free shipping, out-of-town studio visits, artist stipends, an exhibition brochure, and so much more. Thanks also to Betsy Orbe Lester and Tom Kaltenbaugh, art installers extraordinaire, and Jessica Todd, whose thoughtfulness and attention to detail touched every part of this year’s exhibition. And of course, thank you to the artists, both in this year’s exhibition and the ones that preceded it; you all are extraordinary, and we’re proud to know you and to share in a small part of your artistic journey.
Amanda Cooper, Chief Curator
Thank you to our Fresh Squeezed Exhibition sponsors: