"Show's Juror Used Hard Criteria"
by Robert Merritt
March 30, 1986
Anyone who remembers Sal Federico from his days at Virginia Commonwealth University has to know that he would be a hard juror when it comes to a student show. Federico is a philosopher/artist, a man who has spent as much energy thinking about the process of creativity as he has in the pursuit of creation.
is it any wonder that this years VCU student fine arts show has raised a controversy? Federico proved tough, as tough as any juror the school has ever brought in to rate the student work.
He selected only 36 items from some 350 that were entered, and the resulting exhibition
seems almost empty. What is usually a jammed and packed show is, instead, loosely arranged through four galleries
A sixth gallery hasnt even been used.
Federico has clearly looked for
substance in his selections. He hasnt tried to make friends, or influence people, but he hasnt hesitated to include multiple works from the same artists while also refusing to compromise on his quest for substance.
Many students have reacted strongly to what they have seen as the narrowness of the show, but there is no denying that Federico has come into it with a set of values and found works that deliver what he sought. The show feels like a unit, and for all its limitations is perhaps the most compelling of recent years.
Federico was obviously not looking for the manufactured or the safe. He wanted artists who were willing to take a chance, and he found them.