41st Annual Wind Challenge Exhibition Series

Established in 1978, the Wind Challenge Exhibition Series is an annual juried competition that is committed to enriching and expanding people’s lives through art. Wind Challenge Exhibitions are held from September through May, featuring the work of exceptional artists living in the Philadelphia region.

The Wind Challenge Exhibition Series is made possible with thanks to generous support from the Wind Foundation and Fleisher members.

Since its inception, the series has introduced regional contemporary art from over three hundred artists to a broad audience and has helped emerging artists advance their professional careers. Past Wind Challenge artists include photographer Robert Asman and sculptor Syd Carpenter, both of whom were later awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts; beloved Fleisher teaching artist Charlotte Yudis; and brothers Billy and Stephen Dufala, winners of the 2009 West Prize. In 2011, a series of free-public programs led by the artists was introduced, designed to enhance the viewing experience for youth and adults.

Exhibition schedule

  • Challenge 1: October 5 to November 9, 2018. Opening reception, October 5, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

  • Challenge 2: April 5 to May 10, 2019. Opening reception, April 5, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Challenge 1 artists

Matthew Borgen

Matthew Borgen is a native of Akron, Ohio. He was awarded a BFA in drawing from the University of Akron, and an MFA in painting from the University of Minnesota. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2003 he has presented his work in regional venues including The Abington Art Center; The Barbara Crawford Gallery at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy; InLiquid Gallery; and the Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster, New Jersey.

Nationally he has been included in exhibitions at The Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, Michigan; The 621 Gallery, Tallahassee, Florida; and The Arlington Center for the Arts, Arlington, Massachusetts.

His recent work utilizes imagery from comic books published during the mid-20th century — the genre’s so-called golden age. Using their visual conventions, nostalgic aura, and narrative structure in combination with images borrowed from art history and other popular cultural sources, Borgen has developed a hybrid visual language which he uses in his digital prints and wall installations to make comment on topics ranging from historical, formal strategies of artmaking to issues within the current political and social discourse.

Marie Manski

Artist statement:

I remember being young. I was quiet in the house, always. I sat in the sun room with my father and he read to me:

Beauty cannot exist
Without ugliness.
Virtue cannot exist
Without vice.
Living, we know death.
Struggling, we know ease.
Rising high, we know depths.
Being quiet, we understand noise.

These were the words of Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher who wrote Tao Te Ching. My father smiled at my confusion. I asked questions about love and hate, happiness and sadness, peace and violence. I still ask these questions. My work seeks to create a holistic experience that illustrates the complexity of our existence. Each turn of the labyrinth invites the audience to transport themselves to a new space reminiscent of this world, yet apart from it. People are invited to look, touch, smell, and hear their surroundings – connecting what is fiction with what is fact and perhaps back to fiction again. I believe that art has an important role of being a mediator between our public, outward lives and our private, psychological lives. Art can reinforce or cripple our views. It can cause us to investigate or provide an escape for us to forget. Art can even solidify or shatter our vision of ourselves. It is through the experience of an interactive work that I invite the audience to invest in themselves and consider the labyrinth we lay at our own feet.

Sophie Sanders

Artist statement:

My Ophelia Rising series uses the theme of women submerged in water, whether in states of death, despair, calm, fear, confidence, or spiritual grace. The submersion in water references purification rituals from many religions and cultures, as well as the 19th century interest in the theme of bathers favored by many early Modernist artists. I took original inspiration from the representation of Shakespeare’s character Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, which forecasted the real-life tragic death of the artist’s model, Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall. I decided to work with women of color, whose physical qualities were opposite to those of the pale-skinned models favored by 19th Century European, male artists. I portray myself and three other collaborators in my bathtub adorned with flowers. My collaborators also contributed written statements that reflect experiences of their bodies and states of mind. The bathtub symbolizes a locus of safety and self-care in the current political climate of the United States our administration that is stripping away the tenets of American democracy.

Challenge 2 artists

Michelle Angela Ortiz

Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist/skilled muralist/community arts educator who uses her art as a vehicle to represent people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Through community arts practices, painting, and public art installations, she creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues communities and individuals may face. Her work tells stories using richly crafted and emotive imagery to claim and transform spaces into a visual affirmation that reveals the strength and spirit of the community.

For over 18 years, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works nationally and internationally. Since 2008, Ortiz has led art for social change public art projects in Costa Rica & Ecuador and through the US Embassy in Fiji, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, Honduras, and Cuba. Ortiz is a 2018 PEW Fellow, a Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellow, a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist National Fellow, and a Santa Fe Art Institute Equal Justice Resident Artist. In 2016, she received the Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Year in Review Award which honors outstanding public arts projects in the nation.

Evan Dawson

Bridging cross-cultural experiences with cross-disciplinary strategies, Evan Dawson initiates long-term projects reflecting on our underlying beliefs about the world and the physical consequences of ideas. Working with duration, habit formation, his own body, and collections of found materials, his works often take on performative and collaborative structures on their path to singular, poetic images. Simple to imagine, but difficult to manifest, each work can be seen as an effort to establish the conditions for considering a possibility.

Evan earned his MFA in sculpture at The Ohio State University in 2012, and was a Lecturer in the Department of Art there until 2014. His work has been shown at the Columbus Museum of Art and the Sculpture Center (Ohio), Microscope Gallery (New York), Park Gallery (Kathmandu, Nepal), Ubaan Art Station (Bangkok, Thailand), Cho Why (Bangkok, Thailand) and the Singapore Fringe Festival. He has been a Greater Columbus Art Council Fellow in Columbus, Ohio, and an artist in residence at Marpha Foundation in Marpha, Nepal. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2016, he has participated in group shows at Pilot Projects, High Tide, and Mascher Space Co.

Rebecca Gilbert

Rebecca Gilbert is a Philadelphia-based artist whose work exemplifies a dedication to traditional printmaking processes, while her innovation in executing these processes in combination with cut paper and assemblage push the boundaries of what a print can be.

Her works are representations of the act of searching for, and of our ability to recognize when one has found, something of “value.” She interprets these ideas in woodcut and wood engraving using natural imagery and pattern. These processes allow the integration of a high level of detail and the ability to work both very large (woodcut) and very small (wood engraving) simultaneously. The contrast in scale directly relates to the ways she explores ideas of perception, space, and seeing.

Gilbert earned an MFA in printmaking and book arts from The University of the Arts and a BFA in printmaking from Marshall University. In 2018, she was awarded an Independence Foundation Art Fellowship and a Winterthur Maker/Creator Research Fellowship to support her newest body of work that will premier as her Wind Challenge Exhibition. Her work is in numerous public and private collections, and has been exhibited regionally, nationally, and abroad.

Gilbert currently lives and works in South Philadelphia; serves on the board of The Wood Engravers’ Network; is represented by The Print Center, Philadelphia; and teaches at The University of the Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Fleisher Art Memorial.