(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The new exhibition at the Morris Museum, Dissonance, has become more timely than originally imagined. This 2020 version of the New Jersey Annual Arts Competition was conceived and judged long before the Covid 19 crisis but it winds up reflecting aspects of the strange times we all share. The word Dissonance, suggesting discord, tension, instability, and conflict—aptly fits the moment in which we find ourselves, as individuals, as institutions, as a nation, as a culture.
In New Jersey, a state that embraces the tensions of diversity, geography, and history, our collective future remains tantalizingly malleable. The tension of creative thinking grows from the uncertainties of exploration, stepping away from the tried-and-true, while reaching for new inspiration. These are the fundamentals of the creative spirit and underline the energy and mission that drives the Morris Museum. The New Jersey Arts Annual is a unique exhibition highlighting the works of visual and performance based artists in the state. The exhibition is sponsored by The New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Dissonance opened first as a virtual exhibition, launched on May 18, in celebration of International Museum Day.
Employing the term dissonance as a point of departure, in January the Morris Museum invited submissions from artists living and working in New Jersey to submit work that encompass qualities of "discord, tension, instability and conflict to aptly fit the moment in which we find ourselves." The submission could be in any medium, art, craft, design, performance and new media. Over 1300 works were submitted and 60 works by 35 artists were chosen. The work was judged by Museum Executive Director, Cleveland Johnson and Lowery Stokes Sim, Curator Emerita of the Museum of Art and Design. The startling range and depth of the work on display includes, among other disciplines, figurative art, abstraction, film, performance, and photography from some of the most talented artists in New Jersey.
The unique combination of toxins and nutrients in the Garden State's rich cultural soil is represented in the edgy, delicate and exotic blooms produced by this crop of artists from all over the state. They include Fairlawn's young Eitan Barokas who's bright, colorful canvases explode with ideas and Marina Carreiras, a Newark native who explores her Portuguese heritage in her edgy, multimedia work. Pat Brentano of Westfield is an environmental activist whose installation, Endangered Native Habitat was exhibited at the Morris Museum in 2014. Photographer Michael Endy documents the state's unlikely treasures while Chung-Fan Chang of Sewell illuminates displacement and her Chinese/Taiwanese history. These are just a few of the exceptional artists represented and you can sample all of the artists on Instagram: @morrismuseum. The entire Dissonance Catalog can be viewed on the Morris Museum website.
In his introduction to the exhibition for the museum's catalog, Executive Director, Cleveland Johnson writes: "If you believe, as I do, that artists are often on the cutting edge of history, anticipating seismic cultural changes well before the general public, then this exhibit is an opportunity to examine that premise. Viewers will experience an exhibition--on the other side of the Covid-19 onslaught--that was conceived, innocently enough, during the months prior. Some artists may have originally conceived the "dissonance" theme in the context of our fractured political climate, or rising concerns about global warming, but Dissonance opens now through new lenses that today's generation will never be fully able to remove." He ends on this hopeful note, "Of course art has the power to transcend time, place and circumstance."
About the Morris Museum
Founded in 1913, the Morris Museum is an award-winning, multifaceted arts and cultural institution serving the public through its exhibitions and performances which strive to interpret the past and discover the future through art, sound, and motion. The Museum is home to the historic and internationally-significant Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata. Changing exhibits of contemporary content further illuminate its Permanent Collection. The Museum’s Bickford Theatre is a 312-seat performing-arts facility, offering unique programming in film, jazz, and live performance through its innovative series, Live Arts at the Morris Museum. The Morris Museum has a proud tradition of meaningful educational programs and family events. New Jersey’s only Smithsonian Affiliate Museum, Morris Museum is also the first museum in New Jersey to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, it has been designated a Major Arts Institution and has received the New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ Citation of Excellence, among other awards.
The Museum is located at 6 Normandy Heights Road (at the corner of Columbia Turnpike) in Morristown, NJ, and is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00pm. In addition, the Museum is open evenings from 5:00 to 8:00pm on the second and third Thursday of the month. Admission to the Museum is $10 for adults and $7 for children, students and senior citizens. Admission is always free for Museum members.
IMAGES: (TOP) "Blue Smoke" by Jane Biron (MIDDLE) "American Scream" by Jonathan Collins (BOTTOM) "Meditation by Kimberly Witham