Pair of South Jersey artists selected for upcoming exhibition in Newark

Experts in visual art from Haddonfield and Deptford to be featured

Deptford-based Alan Willoughby was one of 45 Garden State artists selected to have his work, in this case ceramic vases, exhibited by the Newark Museum of Art from June 17 through Aug. 22. Titled “We The People,” the pieces are wheel-thrown and hand-built white stoneware clay, fired in a wood burning pottery kiln featuring the phrase “Speak Truth to Power” and “We Hold These Truths.” (Courtesy Alan Willoughby/The Sun)

Earlier in March, The Newark Museum of Art announced an event called 2021 New Jersey Arts Annual: ReVision and Respond. The annual juried exhibition is sponsored by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment of the Arts.

This year’s edition is scheduled to open on June 17 and last through Aug. 22.

Exhibitors were culled from a list of more than 1,800 entries from 484 artists across New Jersey. Fifty works by 45 artists were chosen, deemed to powerfully interpret the exhibition’s theme as they offer unique perspectives on our current and future worlds.

“We are delighted to host this year’s New Jersey Arts Annual in collaboration with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and look forward to amplifying the work of these visionary artists by offering the public a glimpse of their inspiring talent,” said Amy Hopwood, associate curator of Decorative Arts for the museum.

“We are eager to share what these 45 New Jersey based artists have created.”

Haddonfield based Erik James Montgomery and Deptford’s Alan Willoughby feature portfolios decades in the making, the former in photography, the latter with ceramics.

“This is my 30th year as a photographer, and I’ve shown my work at Barnes and other places,” Montgomery said. “But Newark is special because I started my career path there, and it’s coming full circle and it means a lot to me.”

His selection is a triptych that deals with COVID in relation to how it affected everyone around the world. There are three images, bonded 24-by-36-inch panels of photos painted on canvas.

“My desire is for people to view my image, whether it’s today, tomorrow or 100 years from now,” Montgomery added. “And to realize how people were impacted by the pandemic.”

For more information about Montgomery, visit: www.ejmphoto.com/.

Willoughby dubbed himself a “reemerging artist” following a quarter century as the director of Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown.

“These days, I’m able to put more work into my career. Now I feel like I’m new again to the field of professional artistry,” he noted.

Among the main reasons he took to molding clay are the tactile quality of the material, which allowed him to tap into an ability to learn through his hands and through touch better than through his other senses.

Willoughby’s entries in the show will be two ceramic vases, each imbued with a key phrase, words he believes can allow the public “to get us to a better place.”

In this case, it’s an early American take. The work as a whole is called We the People, with 2 phrases: “We hold these truths. “ and “Speak truth to power.” as the main messages.

“I’m very honored and excited,” Willoughby offered. “As an artist, this past year in particular, I see us as a country faced with many challenges. And it’s hard for me to work in a studio and not make something that had some connection to the world around me.”

For more information about Willoughby, visit: shustermanwilloughby.com.

All artists over 21 who live or work in New Jersey were eligible to apply. The open call invited a range of artistic practices, from traditional to abstract, from craft to new media. Selected works include collage, installations, paintings, sculpture, textiles, video and works on paper.

For more information on the museum and the exhibition, visit: www.newarkmuseumart.org/2021njaa.