The Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennale, the Biennale de Paris – these every-other-year exhibitions offer the pulse of the international art world. In the Washington area, WPA offers a biennial of its own: OPTIONS. Smaller in scale than the international variety, OPTIONS shares the spirit of any biennial exhibition worth its salt, offering a snapshot of art trends and current thinking in the area.
For artists in the area, OPTIONS is a chance to contribute to a larger discussion, and a chance to see what art is being made in the region. Victoria Reis, co-founder of Transformer and curator of two OPTIONS exhibitions, underscores the importance of providing a place for current dialogue in art. “When I curated the 1999 and the 2002 OPTIONS exhibitions, there were no other forums of its kind in DC to highlight the work of emerging visual artists from the region to contemporary art audiences. In fact, Transformer's founding mission to provide a consistent platform to connect and promote emerging visual artists and their work is in large part a direct outcome of my experience curating OPTIONS.”
Inclusion in the show is a meaningful experience in an artists career. John James Anderson, who exhibited in OPTIONS 2011, recounts his experience with the exhibition: “My inclusion meant a number of things to me. For one, it felt like I had been doing something right: something meaningful enough that someone, in this case Stefanie Fedor, took notice and included my work. Beyond that, it was that opportunity that helped me along in other ways. My work in that exhibit caught the attention of Meaghan Kent, founder of Site95, in Brooklyn. She saw the installation, made contact, and asked me to contribute to her journal. Later she included me in an exhibit at Locust Projects in Miami.
Stephanie Fedor, Executive Director of Arlington Arts Center and curator of OPTIONS 2011, describes her experience looking at all of the artist submissions. “From a curatorial perspective it was a great opportunity to look at a large concentration of recent work from artists working in all media and with a range of concerns and interests. Often curators are approaching exhibitions thematically (either with formal or topical concerns), which measurably reduces the circle of artists that can be considered. Through hundreds of submissions, personal investigation and studio visits, OPTIONS allowed me to take a pulse on who the artists are in our region, the materials they are using, and the range of styles and investigations. This is something I rarely get to do in a concise time frame. I was introduced to a lot of artists who I continue to follow and work with – it was very exciting.”
WPA is pleased to continue this exhibition with the opening of OPTIONS 2013, as it continues to serve as a vital component of the regional art scene. Fedor continues, “OPTIONS presents the public the best examples of unrepresented artists working in our region right now. This exhibition is an opportunity for the public to hopefully be introduced to new art by new artists working in their same communities. The proximity part is very important to me - this exhibition, and the WPA, consistently underlines the extraordinary work that artist are doing in our immediate vicinity, which is a great service to local artist and audiences because it creates access and opportunity for an immediate exchange of ideas and understanding.”
OPTIONS 2013 opens April 13, 2013 at Arlington Arts Center with an opening reception from 6-9pm.
April 4, 2013