Open Call for works on paper

on the occasion of:



February 17 — April 7, 2019

Curated by Betsy Alwin (A ‘01, Dean ‘05-06) and Steve Locke (A ‘02, Dean ‘04-’09)

In Collaboration with Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs

We are pleased to invite Skowhegan alumni and faculty to submit works on paper to be considered for Distance, an exhibition curated by two former deans, Betsy Alwin (A ‘01, Dean ‘05-06) and Steve Locke (A ‘02, Dean ‘04-’09). This exhibition was made possible by Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in Long Island City, New York, and, to respect the deadlines they’ve given us, we would like to emphasize that interested artists should expect the very quick turnarounds that accompany this fast moving opportunity. 


We don’t need to tell you that it is a fraught time in the world, and it would be jejune at best to suggest a call for art that would attempt to make some sense of the current moment.  We reject that attempt. Instead we ask you to consider distance as the organizing principle for this exhibition of works on paper.

We want to showcase art works that address the space between instead of the poles of thought, the amount of the division instead of the sides of the divide. It is not enough to just talk about borders without talking about the spaces that borders create and how these spaces - charged with emotion and lived experience - span endless divides. These distances are pregnant, essential, and vital.  Yet, we struggle to grasp them. What seems close to us is fleeting and far away for another. Where do we go to find the intimacy that brings the unseen into focus?

The distance between us and Skowhegan continues to shift as time passes. Let us consider how each person experiences this differently.

We came to this after sharing the work of Solmaz Sharif, whose poem, LOOK, made us think about distance and the way it affects our relationships, our positions, and our lives:

It matters what you call a thing: Exquisite a lover called me.
Whereas Well, if I were from your culture, living in this country,
      said the man outside the 2004 Republican National
      Convention, I would put up with that for this country;
Whereas I felt the need to clarify: You would put up with
      TORTURE, you mean and he proclaimed: Yes;
Whereas what is your life;
Whereas years after they LOOK down from their jets
       and declare my mother’s Abadan block PROBABLY
       DESTROYED, we walked by the villas, the faces
       of buildings torn off into dioramas, and recorded it
       on a hand-held camcorder and I said That’s a gun as I
       trained the lens on a rusting GUN-TYPE WEAPON and
       That’s Iraq as I zoomed over the river;

Whereas it could take as long as 16 seconds between
        the trigger pulled in Las Vegas and the Hellfire missile
        landing in Mazar-e-Sharif, after which they will ask
        Did we hit a child? No. A dog. they will answer themselves;

Whereas the federal judge at the sentencing hearing said
        I want to make sure I pronounce the defendant’s name

Whereas this lover would pronounce my name and call me
        Exquisite and LAY the floor lamp across the floor so that
        we would not see each other by DIRECT ILLUMINATION,
        softening even the light;

Whereas the lover made my heat rise, rise so that if heat
        sensors were trained on me, they could read
        my THERMAL SHADOW through the roof and through
        the wardrobe;

Whereas you know we ran into like groups like mass executions.
        w/ hands tied behind their backs. and everybody shot
        in the head side by side. it’s not like seeing a dead body walking
        to the grocery store here. it’s not like that. its iraq you know
        its iraq. its kinda like acceptable to see that there and not—it
        was kinda like seeing a dead dog or a dead cat laying—;

Whereas I thought if he would LOOK at my exquisite face
        or my father’s, he would reconsider;

Whereas You mean I should be sent MISSING because of my family
        name? and he answered Yes. That’s exactly what I mean,
        adding that his wife helped draft the PATRIOT Act;
Whereas the federal judge wanted to be sure he was
        pronouncing the defendant’s name correctly and said he
        had read all the exhibits, which included the letter I
        wrote to cast the defendant in a loving light;

Whereas today we celebrate things like his transfer to a
        detention center closer to home;

Whereas his son has moved across the country;

Whereas I made nothing happen;

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is
        your life? It is even a THERMAL SHADOW, it appears
        so little, and then vanishes from the screen;

Whereas I cannot control my own heat and it can take
        as long as 16 seconds between the trigger, the Hellfire
        missile, and A dog, they will answer themselves;

Whereas A dog, they will say: Now, therefore,

Let it matter what we call a thing.

Let it be the exquisite face for at least 16 seconds.

Let me LOOK at you.

Let me look at you in a light that takes years to get here.


For any further questions, concerns, or technical issues, please contact Paige at 

We cannot accept submissions by email.