Dina Deitsch: A Q&A with the Northeast Juror

It’s time to begin preparations for one of our most anticipated issues of the year, the Northeast Competition! (The deadline to apply is August 31, and the competition is open to artists in CT, DE, ME, MA, NJ, NH, NY, PA, RI, and VT. Apply online!)

For nearly two decades, the Northeast book has featured artists of exceptional promise who have gone on to incredible international success, and NAP alums from the region include such celebrated contemporary artists as Matthew Day Jackson, William Cordova, Eddie Martinez, and countless others.

We are beyond thrilled to feature the perspective of talented curator (and friend) Dina Deitsch, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art for the deCordova Sculpture Park + Museum, Lincoln, MA. Dina’s years of experience working with emerging artists for the museum’s deCordova Biennial and her intensive work with multiple media, make her an incredible candidate for jurying the Northeast Competition. 

I chatted with the Cambridge-based curator this week to talk up the competition and her experience with emerging work. She also shares with us her thoughts on recent developments in contemporary painting, which you don’t want to miss. Our conversation is below! More after the jump!  —Evan J. Garza, Editor-at-Large

EJG: As the curator for a sculpture park and museum, how do you address painting in the museum's program?
DD: Easily and often! While deCordova is a sculpture park, and a fantastic one at that, we also have a good 5000 sq ft of gallery space that we program with not only sculpture but general contemporary art. One branch of our mission is to collect and promote artists from the New England region, which we do through single-artist PLATFORM projects and our sprawling Biennial program. In that particular program, variety is the name of the game and there’s always room for painting! I also organize group thematic shows that often do and can include or even center on painting, such as the forthcoming show I'm curating with you, Paint Thing (working title), which looks at painting as a spatial art, and where and how it meets sculpture.

For the last few years, you've organized the deCordova Biennial, which includes artists of exceptional talent living and working in New England, and you see a lot of work, much of that from emerging artists. What is it about working with emerging artists that excites you?
Well, for one, there’s nothing quite like driving 5 hours in sleet and snow to a studio filled with amazing work that you’ve just never seen before… But travel-weariness aside, I find emerging artists to be very forthcoming with their practice and process – both in our studio visits and in their work. To me, there’s nothing quite like seeing someone’s creative process as an honest, sincere venture. It’s pretty inspiring.

I know you and I have talked about this ourselves at great length, especially recently in Chicago for NEXT, but for our readers would you share  your thoughts on what you've seen developing in contemporary painting in the last few years?
It’s funny, I can’t quite say if this is because I work in a sculpture-centric museum or just what I’ve noticed, but as you and I have chatted on endlessly about, there is an enormous amount of painting that verges on the sculptural and vice versa. Maybe it has something to do with the intense return of color in object making or the ever-present tradition of painting looming over all arts, or the fact that we all know and love the rectangle even more now with our now-vital screen lives.

What are you looking forward to the most in reviewing submissions from the Northeast Competition?
Seeing new work! It’s funny, I’ve always thought of myself as more of a time-based media type – video and all – but I have to say, there is nothing quite like looking at a painting. I think that it’s probably the least forgiving of mediums and therefore it either works or doesn’t - almost viscerally.

Dina Deitsch is the juror for the forthcoming Northeast Competition. Deadline to apply is August 31. The competition is open to artists in CT, DE, ME, MA, NJ, NH, NY, PA, RI, and VT. 
Apply online! For more details visit NewAmericanPaintings.com.

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