Spoleto Festival USA General Director Nigel Redden today revealed the 2021 season poster (right), featuring the work of American photographer JoAnn Verburg. Celebrated for her use of color, composition, and varying focus, her work has been shown internationally and she has received solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Gibbes Museum of Art, among other major galleries nationwide.
For the 2021 Festival poster—which is 18.5″ x 32″—Verburg selected her work Between (2021, 48″ x 32″, archival ink on paper, courtesy of Pace Gallery and G. Gibson Projects), featuring one of her signature subjects: olive trees near her home in Spoleto, Italy. The image focuses on one tree within the grove, reflecting bursts of deep orange sun beams highlighting its trunk and surrounding branches. “I’m fascinated by aspects of life that are in process or have an in-between element,” says Verburg. “For instance, this image taken in the late, late afternoon isn’t daytime or nighttime. It has the qualities of both, but it’s neither. It’s that moment when the sun is there, but it’s not there—both liminal and redolent.”
Says Redden: “I was thrilled when JoAnn selected one of her olive tree images for the poster. The olive tree is a wonderful representation of life, growth and constant care—an especially meaningful symbol after the difficulty of last year.” That the image was taken just outside of Spoleto, Italy, the site of the American festival’s origins, is another parallel. Redden, whose association with Spoleto first began 52 years ago as an apprentice with the Festival Due Dei Mondi, is retiring in October. “Olive trees require a great investment in time and cultivation; it takes a long time for a tree to grow to a point where it will produce fruit,” he says. “Yet the beauty is in that longevity. The trees continue through generations of dedicated families tending their branches.”
Redden and Verburg are also longtime friends—the two first met in the early 1980s, when Redden was Walker Art Center’s director of performing arts and Verburg was a visiting artist at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Today, she splits her time between Spoleto and Minneapolis. “I was thrilled and to participate and have one of my artworks used for the poster,” says Verburg. “I have had countless meals looking at engaging Spoleto posters of the past from artists whose work I love, both in Italy and in Charleston. In fact, looking out from those same Spoleto restaurants at olive trees, with a delicious taste of oil or olives in my mouth, inspired me to make pictures that suggest our profound and sensual connection with nature. I’m honored that my work will now be among the collection.”
Spoleto Festival USA’s season posters have featured works by such artists as David Hockney, Charles Gaines, Jonathan Green, Maya Lin, Chuck Close, Elizabeth Murray, Sol Le Witt, Jasper Johns, and Christian Thee, among others. A gallery of past posters for sale can be found at spoletousa.org. Spoleto Festival USA posters are limited editions and not reprinted. The 2021 poster is available for purchase online at spoletousa.org or by calling the Spoleto Festival USA box office at 843.579.3100 (Monday to Friday, 10:00am to 6:00pm, and Saturday, 10:00am to 2:00pm).
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