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They are neither the fastest nor the strongest, yet decathletes are recognized by peers and laymen alike as being the best all-around athletes. In the decathlon, the athlete’s focus is on developing the most efficient balance of speed, strength, technique, and endurance, embodying the classic idea of what it means to be an athlete.

If the best all-around athlete is one who most efficiently balances speed, strength, technique, and endurance, then what defines the best all-around artist?  Is it mastery of craft?  Is it clarity of idea or emotion?

After centuries of specialization in art that has relied on labels like painter, sculptor, photographer, etc., the District of Columbia Arts Center has asked individual artists who work or reside within a 100 mile radius of Washington, DC to submit proposals that explore the significance of what being “unspecialized” means to being a working artist today. Do certain disciplines express some ideas better than others?  Does training or talent determine success?  Does mastery of a variety of media make you a better artist?

The semi-finalists will exhibit their works at DCAC mid-January to mid-February 2012. The exhibition will culminate in a medal ceremony, but only one artist will walk away with gold.

During the six-month run-up to the exhibition, commentators will “cover” the progress of the decathletes as they create the work for the show. Each commentator will be assigned an artist and visit that artist once a month. After each visit the commentator will post on this blog, interviews, commentaries, photographs, and/or video. Artists are also encouraged to document their progress on the blog.

By hosting this good-natured competition, DCAC hopes to spark debate around the issue of what it means to be the best all-around artist, challenge individuals to try their hand at new disciplines, and give exposure to artists who already embrace working in various media.

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