Meet the Juror
Independent Curator and Writer
Laura Roulet is an independent curator and writer, specializing in contemporary and Latin American art. She was one of five international curators chosen for the citywide public art project, 5 x 5, a major initiative sponsored by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities in 2012. She has organized exhibitions in Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. including at the OAS Art Museum of the Americas, American University Museum, Mexican Cultural Institute, Hillyer Art Space, WPA, Arlington Arts Center, and the DC Art Center. Recent exhibits and programming include Mothering in a World Turned Upside Down (Brentwood Arts Exchange), Landscape in an Eroded Field (American University Museum), Ian Jehle: Dynamical Systems (American University Museum), Brian Reed: In the Crosscurrent (Huntington Museum of Art, WV), A Dark and Scandalous Rockfall (Mexican Cultural Institute), Foon Sham: Escape (AU Museum), Come Back to Rockville! a participatory, public art project for VisArts (Rockville, MD), the National Drawing Invitational (Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR), and Medios y ambientes in Mexico City. She was a mentoring curator for DCAC and the first mentoring curator for VisArts in Rockville, MD in 2015.
Roulet is a frequent contributor to Sculpture magazine. Her other publications include many catalogue essays, encyclopedia entries, articles in American Art, Art Journal, Art Nexus, and the book Contemporary Puerto Rican Installation Art, the Guagua Aerea, the Trojan Horse and the Termite. She worked on the Ana Mendieta retrospective, organized by the Hirshhorn Museum in 2004, and contributed to that catalogue.
Artists are the antenna of society. They are observers and reporters. They are sensitive to change and the environment. Deep into the second year of a global pandemic, what kind of art is being created? As juror of this year’s competition, I observed a sense of isolation, quietness, sometimes darkness, and also many works reflecting a mood of intimacy. We have delved into ourselves and immersed ourselves in a more constricted world. Perhaps contained to just our immediate household or community. We’re all masked and looking over our shoulders.
Whether by inclination or necessity, we’ve been spending a lot more time outdoors. Many artists sought out the comfort that can be found in nature’s beauty. Landscape painting is a time-honored genre, which is well-represented here. But photography particularly lends itself to instantly capturing ephemeral light, color and changing seasons. Some mixed media artists incorporated interesting natural materials such as a bird’s feather, seashell, or beeswax into their work. The focus on our natural world is also a reminder of the inevitability of climate change, which is rapidly accelerating and impacting our lives more with each passing season. Art can raise awareness and even shape events. Art can provide a respite from anxiety, or a window to peer out from our respective bubbles. Perhaps the artwork in this exhibit will provoke recognition and open reflection.
--Laura Roulet, Juror