Surprisingly, he found that many artists used weather to stimulate or inspire art, often in ways that were non-representational or abstract. Some had a clear narrative content while others were more subjective in their approach to weather.
“Because of the physical characteristics of art in each category, the artists responded somewhat differently,” Atkinson said. “Photo is heavily representational and deals with the drama of weather in its extreme forms. But there were also some surprisingly poetic images that made you wonder where the influence of weather was.
“In the works on paper category, the artists approached the theme in a painterly way, but even that varied depending on whether you were dealing with pastels or prints. In the end, you could see how the artist used weather as a collaborator in the artistic process.
“Painting is a huge category and has some of the most craftsman-like, meticulous representational work. Here, weather becomes the inspiration rather than the subject matter. It's the broadest category in terms of how we see art.”
The 100 works will be displayed in the Weather Center's five-story atrium, a space that allows for considerable natural light. Approximately half of the artists whose works were selected for the exhibition are planning to attend the opening.
Christoph Heinrich, Spencer Finch and Jacqui Jeras will select the winning entries in this much-anticipated exhibit. Winners in each category will receive $5,000, with a Best of Show winner earning $10,000. Jeras is a television meteorologist in Washington, D.C.
“It was decided from the get go that we needed to have a famous meteorologist as one of our judges,” Atkinson said. “Who knows the weather better than someone who is professionally engaged with the weather?
“One of the most surprising things about working on this exhibition was to learn how vital weather was as an inspiration for artists. I heard artists say over and over again that they had been waiting all their lives for an exhibition like this. It really struck a chord with them.”