Fine Arts: NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship Exhibition on display at Artworks Trenton


The New Jersey State Council on the Arts established a fellowship program in 1971 “to recognize and assist artists working at the highest level of excellence as determined by their peers”. The current exhibition at Artworks Trenton features the 2019-2021 works of 36 recipients of the Visual Arts Research Fellowships.

Artworks Trenton Exhibitions Manager Addison Vincent said he was “extremely excited” to be hosting the exhibition. “After two difficult years of virtual exhibitions and limited gallery programming at Artworks, it was so rewarding to step back and take an exhibition from concept to reality. The caliber of art that has been created by scholarship recipients is a testament to the creativity of state artists.

The exhibition includes 36 works in disciplines ranging from painting and photography to sculpture, video, a loaded and lighted grocery cart, and repurposed dictionary discs.

There is even a suspended boat mast. Titled “Peak Streamflow/Climate Markers, Passaic” repurposed by Adriane Colburn, it includes rings to represent flood levels and colored shapes to suggest the average annual temperature of the Passaic River which, Colburn says in his statement of artist, “…has risen 5 degrees in Passaic over the past 100 years.

Displayed nearby, and also hanging from the ceiling, is Kate Dodd’s 60 x 108-inch “questionable value”. To do this, she cut out illustrations from a 3,000-page dictionary from the turn of the century, sprayed gold on the coin-like shapes, connected them to each other and hung them in the shape of a cape to a brass rod, creating what she describes in her artist statement as “a royal garment of dubious value” with illustrations and definitions whose value may no longer have “a place in our current culture”.

Among the photographs on display is Ricardo Barros’ 360 degree photo “Jersey Fresh Jam 2021”. Describing his process, he says he makes “a series of still images from a single point while spinning my camera in a full circle encompassing everything visible on the horizon”. It then stitches the images seamlessly into a single flattened photograph. In doing so, he takes viewers with him under a huge canopy and shows some artists settling in while others create a huge fresco.

Direct and haunting is Amy Becker’s “Phoneprints” from her “Dead Ringers: Portraits of Abandoned Pay Phones” series.

His image shows a white painted brick wall bearing the unpainted red brick shapes left over from telephone booths that once served the public. And speaking of our recent past, Erin Nowak’s 2020 “Shelter-in-Place” photograph is described by her as a “humorous take on the realities of the times.” The self-portrait composed at the start of the pandemic, when many parents had to work from home while caring for young children, the capture lying on the floor working on her laptop while a child and a bear in teddy ride on his back.

Kenneth Macbain’s steel, cubic zirconia and brass “wedding ring” was also created in a humorous vein. Measuring just 2 x 1 x 2.5 inches, Macbain says it “talks about power and control in a somewhat nonsensical way”. It’s a working miniature wolf trap that opens to reveal a wedding ring!

On a more serious note, Margaret Murphy painted her traditionally rendered oil-on-paper “Yellow Flowers” ​​as a form of “self-management as impeachment trials lead (sic) to a global pandemic and protests of racial justice”. In her statement, she says that while painting, she realized she was tapping into a collective desire for some form of comfort in troubled times.

“Evening at the Elgin” is a quiet, contemplative egg tempera painting by Jeff Gola who says he is “drawn to the landscape and to the examination of places and subjects that exist on the fringes of the ‘daily observation’. His mastery of capturing light is well known in this field and he did it again here showing an abandoned restaurant standing in an empty expanse as the blue light of the end of the day rests in shadows and streaks on the fallen snow.

It’s the kind of exhibition a critic wants for unlimited space to write about each work on display. Interesting and thought-provoking works such as Dong Kyu Kim’s “Officially Void” which assembled paper envelopes and letters from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as “a testament to my struggle to live and work in United States”. work, the collapse of neoliberalism, and what it means to be an American now. And “Untitled #6 (Young at Heart) a photograph by Ed Maximus of two beautiful people of color, back to back, heads touching which he says is “the prelude to a larger visual narrative exploring the black diaspora in America through the experience of a couple. (which) conveys a time from their youth when they vowed to always support each other no matter the trials and tribulations.

By organizing this exhibition, Vincent achieved the objective he was talking about when talking about this collection. “I wanted to create an exhibition covering a wide range of art: from painting, drawing, photography and sculpture to video and installation. This exhibit has it all,” he said. “The works are bold, thought-provoking and sometimes humorous. After two years of isolation, I wanted to create a space for people to reconnect with art in its purest and most intimate forms. He did just that. And you can see it all by visiting Artworks Trenton in person or viewing it online at


  • WHAT: NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship Exhibition
  • OR: Works Trenton, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton, and
  • WHEN: Until May 21 Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.
  • CONTACT: 609-394-9436.

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