2020 has been a year of social, political and health- related statements of many kinds. The annual “FL3TCH3R Exhibit: Social & Politically Engaged Art” at East Tennessee State University’s Reece Museum is a visual art forum inspired by and tailored for just that kind of expression.
Fittingly, the 2020 exhibition will be a hybrid exhibit: part in person and part virtual.
“We believe the hybrid, virtual way in which the exhibit will function this year conforms with its basis — reflecting social and political effects of how we are living through the 2020 pandemic,” according to FL3TCH3R Exhibit Co-Directors Wayne, Barb and Carrie Dyer.
Established in 2013 in memory of ETSU graphic design student Fletcher Dyer (son of attorney Barb Dyer and now-emeritus ETSU Art & Design professor Wayne Dyer), “FL3TCH3R” has grown into an international juried show with 249 entries this year from nearly 100 artists from around the world. The exhibit is co-sponsored by Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at ETSU and Reece Museum.
Selections for this year’s exhibit, which runs through Friday, Dec. 11, were made by juror Carlton Wilkinson, a Nashville photographer, gallery proprietor and international speaker and lecturer. Entries for the exhibit run the gamut of visual art forms: fiber, jewelry/metals, painting, photography, digital, sculpture, printmaking, video, graphic design, ceramics and 2D and 3D mixed media.
The FL3TCH3R Exhibit is always an indicator of artists’ social and political concerns, says Reece Museum Exhibition Coordinator Spenser Brenner. “As artist participation has increased since the first exhibition in 2013, so has the scope of issues being addressed,” Brenner observes. “Considering the current state of national and global politics, coupled with social justice issues and the ongoing pandemic, I’m sure artists have a lot to communicate.”
The 2020 entries and selections, “more than ever before,” says Barb Dyer, “reflected key prevalent issues surrounding the 2020 election and the present administration, as well as concerns of people worldwide.” Entries illustrated a range of subjects, including Black Lives Matter and systemic racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, first-responder heroes, police brutality toward people of color, protests, oppression, slavery, the 2016 election result, and the environment.
“The entries submitted were some of the strongest and most powerful visual narratives of social/politically engaged artworks ever received by the exhibit,” says Fletcher’s sister, Carrie Dyer, a graphic designer and design professor at High Point University in North Carolina.
This year, the exhibit co-directors are making their own statement, adding an award for artwork focusing on Black Lives Matter. Other awards include the best-in-show awards and memorial awards, established in memory of former ETSU Art & Design Chair Jack Schrader; former ETSU Vice President of Academic Affairs and arts supporter Robert J. Alfonso; Dorothy Carson, mother of graphic designer David Carson; and the Sammie L. Nicely Appalachian Award in memory of the beloved regional artist.
In addition, former “FL3TCH3R” juror, physician and visual artist Dr. Eric Avery supports the Avery Healthcare and the Arts Award, while a portion of the entry fees also funds the Fletcher Hancock Dyer BFA Graphic Design Scholarship Award given annually to an ETSU Art & Design student.
The exhibition opened for public viewing on Oct. 5 at the museum, located at 363 Stout Drive on ETSU’s campus, and will remain on display there through Dec. 11. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“The Reece has implemented a number of measures to keep visitors, students and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Reece Director Randy Sanders. “These measures include wearing a face covering, a one-way system of navigating the museum’s galleries and hallways, having hand sanitizer available at the front entrance and maintaining social distancing guidelines. We encourage visitors to call (423) 439-4392 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to plan a visit ahead of time. This will help museum staff maintain social distance guidelines.”
While the exhibit can be viewed in person during the museum’s operating hours, this year’s awards ceremony will be recorded on Nov. 5 by the Dyers and Reece Museum staff and posted on the Reece Museum website and social media platforms. Also, because of the pandemic, the juror’s talk by Wilkinson will be virtual. It will be recorded Nov. 5 and posted at www.etsu.edu/reece. The talk will include a walk-through of the exhibit with Wilkinson’s commentary.
Visit http://fletcherdyer.com/about.html to learn more about Fletcher Dyer. For more information about the exhibit, visit http://www.FL3TCH3Rexhibit.com. For more about Reece Museum, visit www.etsu.edu/reece or call (423) 439-4392. For details about Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, visit www.etsu.edu/martin or call (423) 439-8587. For disability accommodations, call (423) 439-8346.