Tyler News

Back to Blog March 21, 2024

Four Tyler Alums Selected for 2024 Wind Challenge Exhibitions

Author: Wanda Motley Odom

Amid Philadelphia’s vibrant art scene, the Wind Challenge at Fleisher Art Memorial has long stood as a harbinger of creative ingenuity and excellence. This prestigious annual juried competition, established in the late 1970s, has consistently celebrated emerging artist who push the boundaries of art making.

This year’s Wind Challenge winners include four Tyler alums – Brynn Hurlstone (MFA ’23, Glass), Sean Starowitz (MFA ’23, Sculpture), Idalia Vásquez-Achury (MFA ’22, Photography), and Kim Altomare (BFA '13, Painting) – whose creative practices continue this tradition of innovation through distinctive ways of combining materials and methods to tell unique stories.

As part of the recognition, the artists are featured in solo shows in the 2024 Wind Challenge Exhibition Series at the Fleisher Art Memorial’s Dene M. Louchheim Galleries. Starowitz’s exhibition will be April 2-27, with an opening reception on Friday, April 5 from 6-8 p.m. Hurlstone’s and Vásquez-Achury’s exhibitions will run July 1-31, with an opening reception on Friday, July 12 from 6-8 p.m. Altomare's exhibition ran on February 13-March 9.

In selecting this year’s cohort, the jury explained that they “selected artists who are expanding their practice in unique ways, blending different mediums and incorporating disparate processes to create new forms of artwork that convey compelling narratives about the precarious nature of our existence through our bodies and physical environment.”

Brynn Hurlstone, but for your presence, (detail), 2023, glass, steel, water, water soluble paper, laser printed text, salt, wood.

In her artwork, Hurlstone combines glass, steel, salt, water, and text to create kinetic, interactive forms that she uses to build sculptural installations. The elements are chosen for both the physically transformative reactions they have to one another, and the emotions they naturally elicit within a viewer.

“Within my practice, I utilize whichever materials are dictated by the narrative concepts in my mind. The process is grounded in experimentation, using unforced material transformations that emulate and question facets of human vulnerability,” said Hurlstone.

“Glass speaks so easily of precarity, steel can be strength but is also undeniably weak if water comes near, and the nuanced introduction of text within optical distortion begins to suggest a living presence within the vessels. In creating work like this, I hope to invite conversation about our learned hesitation to engage with the precarious sides of humanity, our fear of doing the wrong thing, and the unexpected rewards that can result from daring to get close.”

Starowitz, who describes his practice as using “archival research and public memory as material to reframe current understanding of natural history and political imaginaries,” said he was honored and humbled to be selected as a Wind Challenge winner.

He plans to use the exhibition opportunity that comes with the selection to show a new video work that encapsulates the Fin de siècle of the 2000s concerning climate change and a large drawing installation. 

“My approach to artmaking is largely influenced by the experiences I've had in social practice and community-based work. I believe in the broader relationship the arts play into belonging, social change, and its unquantifiable impact on other sectors and disciplines. I see my works as propositions for alternative futures and outcomes. By using a variety of mediums and materials from the traditional such as charcoal to very nontraditional materials (growing mycelium and making hempcrete casts), I leverage unorthodox techniques to shift our perceptions to consider new possibilities.”

Idalia Vásquez-Achury, 12980 Masque, 2022

Colombian-born Vásquez-Achury said that being selected for this year’s Wind Challenge holds immense significance for her as an emerging artist, providing “a vital platform to showcase my work within the Philadelphia community.” She described her studio practice as “embracing a perpetual state of transition or becoming, reflecting the fluid nature of contemporary diasporic experiences.”

“Immigrants often find themselves navigating intermediate spaces, traversing among cultures, physical locales, and imagined realms where we construct notions of place, home, and identity. I am particularly intrigued by the complex interplay between identity, history, and place within the Latinx diaspora,” she said. “I utilize lens-based technologies and techniques to explore the reconciliation and coexistence of multiple identities and conflicting historical narratives through photography's close relation to the perception of reality and memory.”

For her solo exhibition, Vásquez-Achury is working on a new photographic installation, experimenting with new materials and printing techniques “to explore personal, fictional, oneiric, and embodiment experiences of the fluidity of diasporic identities.” Her past works have included performance, installation, artist’s books, and digital and film photography.

Hurlstone, Starowitz and Vásquez-Achury all teach as adjunct professors in the Art Department programs at Tyler.


Top image: Sean Starowitz, Acid Rain Block Chain, 2023