The 2020 North Carolina Artists Exhibition Goes Virtual

Curated by the Guggenheim Museum’s Nat Trotman, the Raleigh Fine Arts Society and CAM Raleigh offer a showcase of diverse local talent.

by Katherine Poole  |  art images courtesy Raleigh Fine Arts Society

When the Hunted Become the Hunters by Stephanie J. Woods  

Thought provoking.

That is how Jan Woodard, Chair of the NC Artists Exhibition described this year’s show, which opened at CAM Raleigh in March. The NC Artists Exhibition is put on by the Raleigh Fine Arts Society (RFAS), an organization that promotes and supports the arts in our community through advocacy, volunteer work and the sponsorship of performances, lectures and exhibitions. Established in 1978, The NC Artists Exhibition has grown to be one of the organization’s signature events and is the largest all-media juried exhibition in the state.

Conflagration by Deborah Kruger. Click on the image to see Deborah Kruger’s artist talk for the exhibition.

“I cannot tell you how fantastic this show is,” says Woodard. But she can tell you why: The juror for this year’s exhibition is Nat Trotman, Curator of Media and Performance at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Trotman is a North Carolina native and the son of renowned artist Bob Trotman, whose work in wood has been shown at the Smithsonian Institution, The North Carolina Museum of Art, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art, The Renwick Gallery and The Museum of Art and Design in New York, to name a few.

Due to COVID-19, the exhibition, which was originally slated to close June 14, has been extended to August 23. While still closed to the public, patrons of the arts can visit CAM Raleigh online, as well as the Raleigh Fine Arts Society website to view the works of art, find a list of winners, learn about each artist and make inquiries about purchasing the pieces. 

Ben Hamburger

Trotman’s work was definitely cut out for him: 679 artists submitted over 1,500 pieces—the greatest number of submissions ever received—from which he selected 57 artists to be represented in the exhibition. The artists come from all over the state and represent a diversity of backgrounds, experience and age—even one as young as 20. “We have so much talent and creativity in North Carolina,” says Woodard. “And Nat just recognized a whole batch of up-and-coming artists.” Woodard goes on to say that as Trotman was selecting pieces, he began to see a common thread among the submissions and in the artist’s statements and biographies. Each artist “is committed to speaking truth to the era in which we live. Many would say that these are difficult times, and it should come as little surprise that we find a sense of urgency among the works gathered here,” writes Trotman.

Eteo by Donald Martiny

“This is the kind of show people would go to a large city to see,” says Woodard, which she hopes will bring new attention from the art world and beyond to our state and the wealth of talent that resides here. The show runs through June 14 with special exhibit viewing opportunities (see sidebar) to engage with the pieces and discover as Woodard says, “moments of grace and beauty.”

Fearless and Free by Lyudmila Tomova