The year 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.
Established in 2013, in memory of ETSU graphic design student Fletcher Dyer, son of attorney Barb Dyer and Art & Design professor Wayne Dyer, “FL3TCH3R” has become an international juried exhibit with 246 entries this year from nearly 100 artists from around the world.
Selections for this year’s exhibit – which runs Monday, Oct. 5 through Friday, Dec. 11 – are being made by Carlton Wilkinson, a Nashville photographer, gallery owner 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.
“I cannot imagine this year being any different. 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,” Brenner observes.
Co-directors Wayne and Barb Dyer and daughter Carrie Dyer, a graphic designer and professor, are making their own statement this year, 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 and psychiatrist, physician and visual artist Dr. Eric Avery each year supports the Avery Healthcare and the Arts Award.
This year, the exhibit’s award ceremony will be recorded by the Dyers and Reece Museum staff and posted on the Reece Museum website on a date still to be determined.
A portion of the entry fees also fund the Fletcher Hancock Dyer BFA Graphic Design Scholarship Award given annually to an ETSU Art & Design student.
Also this year, because of the pandemic, the Juror’s Talk, by Wilkinson, will be recorded and posted at www.etsu.edu/reece and on the museum’s social media platforms.
Visitation to the exhibition will not go virtual opening to the public Oct. 5 at the museum on Stout Drive on ETSU’s campus. “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.”
Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. “We encourage visitors to call 423-439-4392 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to plan a visit ahead of time,” Sanders says. “This will help museum staff maintain social distance guidelines.”
The virtual events not only keep patrons and artists safe, but they also open up new possibilities in the reach of the “FL3TCH3R” legacy. “We are excited that the virtual events might encourage more people and artists, who cannot normally travel here for events such as the reception and awards or discussions, to join and participate online in numerous ways,” Barb Dyer says.
For more information about Fletcher Dyer, visit http://fletcherdyer.com/about.html. For more information about the exhibit, visit http://www.FL3TCH3Rexhibit.com and for Reece Museum, visit www.etsu.edu/reece or call 423-439-4392.
For more information on Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, visit www.etsu.edu/martin or call 423-439-8587. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.