About the Juror - Mana Hewitt

Mana Hewitt is currently the Director of the McMaster Art Gallery as well as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Art Department of the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the University, she taught at Columbia College. Her work has taken many forms over the years including ceramics, painting and metals. Mana exhibits widely in the United States and overseas. Among numerous awards, she received the South Carolina Arts Commission Artist Fellowship, was named a Southern Arts Foundation Artist, and had several works selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of "100 Southern Artists." In addition, the University of South Carolina recognized her teaching and curatorialship with the Instructor Professional Development Award in 2012.

Juror's statement. It was an honor to be invited to jury the National Explore This! 9 exhibition for the CPSA.  I enthusiastically accepted this opportunity because exhibitions such as this are engines for greater public access to the visual arts. The variety and quality of works submitted made my task as juror a difficult one. The commitment on the part of each artist to create works that are aesthetically, conceptually and technically commendable was obvious. Congratulations! 

In judging I believe that technique, originality and content, as vehicles for self-expression are vital. I congratulate every artist that entered this exhibition for the courage it takes to participate in such a public forum. Regrettably, not all the work submitted could be included in the show. I hope to have made this exhibit a positive experience for all.  To those who experienced the frustration of rejection, I encourage you to prove me wrong many times over with the works your frustration will fuel. 

 The artists singled out for special recognition this year demonstrate a dedication to innovation in skill and content. Their sincere engagement with the world through works of art is commendable and represents the highest calling of artists to make work that explores the many facets of our shared experience.  These works exhibit an undeniable ambition in their scope and execution. To me, their merit was immediate and undeniable and I hope my small encouragement will help usher them to attempt even greater works in the future.

As juror I view myself as an art patron. I asked myself which of these artworks moves me aesthetically, emotionally, viscerally as well as meets the criteria of the CPSA in terms of colored pencil. In selecting the award winners I found that First place and Best in Show, "Foiled Again" by Eileen Sorg, was exceptional in process and content. Sorg skillfully pushed beyond the expected to create a wonderful visual pun. Second place "Spirit Stones" by Deborah Friedman, manipulated transparency, light, and reflection with exceptional skill and good humor.  Could those rocks be smiling?  The third place winner Brenda Raub’s “The Artist's Thumbprint," makes us explore the beauty of an artist's paint box. Fourth place Scott Williams “Blue Hydrangea in Glass Vase” shows extraordinary skill and makes the viewer feel the smoothness of the tiger maple table and the velvety softness of the petals.

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