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originally published: 06/20/2022

(TRENTON, NJ) – The New Jersey State Museum (NJSM) presents the 2022 New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemerging. New Jersey is home to a diverse and robust artist community; the New Jersey Arts Annual Show highlights the work of fine artists and artisans from across the state. The New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence exhibition runs from June 25, 2022 to April 30, 2023.

This year’s exhibition theme is “Reappear.” Artists, like most New Jerseyers, are taking steps to reemerge in a changed landscape. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, political and ideological polarization, and a collective reckoning with systemic racism remain critical to delivering on the country’s promise.

“It’s a privilege to showcase the work of these New Jersey artists as we all reflect on the events of the last few years and how we are moving forward in the ongoing pandemic,” said Sarah Vogelman, associate curator of visual arts at NJSM . “The 95 selected artists, who work in an interdisciplinary and cross-media manner, have each reacted in their own way to the ruptures and challenges of life in the pandemic. Themes of fear, isolation, surrealism and disconnection/connection appear in many works, as well as impulses for contemplation and communication with the immediate environment, be it an interior scene, a still life or a landscape. We hope that as we all envision a resurgence, the exhibition will serve as a place for the public to engage and reflect.”

The NJ State Museum presents the 2022 New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence

One of the local artists to be featured at the New Jersey State Museum will be George Taylor, MFACeramic artists from Milltown, NJ.

“A black male artist’s self-expression is a political act in itself. It is amplified during an epidemic of prejudice, racism, sexism, political unrest and hatred, all intertwined with a deadly pandemic and now the possibility of global war” , says Taylor, who painted his picture during the pandemic, not as a plan but as a shelter.

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Several of Taylor’s stoneware vessels (pictured) will be on display from June 25 to April 2023. They bear the title Self-Portrait with a Hat, The Artist as a Young Man, and Two poets.

“These current vessels primarily show representative images of the human face, my own and others,” explains Taylor. “They bear little resemblance to the sake and perfume bottles that were at their origin. Grouped together they appear like a cityscape with graffiti on the sides of the structures. But the two of them seem to be in silent dialogue. Anyway, they speak.”

George Taylor has spent much of his life grappling with issues of self-identification in a world that often seems to marginalize his existence and, by extension, his art. He was raised in an African American family, then one of the few in his Jersey City, NJ neighborhood. Expectations were that he would go to law or clergy, while Taylor recalls only wanting to draw men with army hats, religious icons, and peacock feathers.

As an art major at Rutgers University, many of Taylor’s paintings were figurative but had an otherworldly feel to them. These works, as Taylor describes them, were familiar, with rather disorienting and paranoid landscapes. In graduate school at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Taylor painted large-scale canvases that celebrate the human body. He also explored an affinity for ceramics and performance art, with the two disciplines often overlapping. In one memorable performance, he covered his body in clay and painted images on gallery walls that appeared rough, provocative, and primitive.

The NJ State Museum presents the 2022 New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence

Since receiving his MFA, Taylor has taught at numerous colleges and art schools in NJ. One of its current classes is Find Your inner consciousness in ceramic in which he uses his training as both a counselor and a Buddhist priest. Taylor’s current work is three dimensional and takes the form of towers/bottles on which are sketched or painted images of himself and some of the people important to him. His work has been featured in both solo and group shows, most recently at the Ellarslie Open in Trenton, NJ. In addition to ReappearTaylor’s work is featured at Gallery AferroNewark NJ, in its summer show through August 25: Tell me about yourself.

“I’ve always loved human representations and I love working with clay. This new work is a marriage of the two,” says Taylor.

Each year, the New Jersey Arts Annual is presented by the State Arts Council in partnership with major museums across the state, rotating between host institutions. These exhibitions are open to all artists currently living or working in New Jersey. This year’s juried show received 1,999 entries from 393 artists from all 21 New Jersey counties. One hundred and twenty-seven works by 95 artists have been selected for inclusion in the exhibition.

“The Arts Annual is an exhibition focused exclusively on New Jersey artists, and the State Arts Council is proud to support the many great artists who make New Jersey their home,” said Danielle Bursk, director of community Partnerships & Artist Services for the New Jersey State Council for the Arts. “Each year, the Arts Annual Exhibition is a way to recognize and highlight new work and give audiences the opportunity to see artwork by some of the state’s most innovative and accomplished artists. And our partners at the Landesmuseum have done a great job curating a contemporary, inspiring and powerful exhibition.”

That New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemerging is a project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey State Museum. At the New Jersey State Museum, the exhibit is also supported by the New Jersey State Museum Foundation.

The State Museum of New Jersey is located at 205 West State Street in Trenton and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

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