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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Art of Curating

If you have visited a museum you have heard the word "curator".  One definition for the post of the curator is that of 'content specialist'.  Often, depending on the size of the museum, the job also includes acquistion and interpretation of a collection.  And, in small towns, the job of curator usually includes the responsibility for hanging an exhibit.  (The word curate comes from a Latin word meaning to "take care.")

With shows I've been in I must admit that minimal care or thought went in to why a piece hung where.  Usually expediency or size dictated where something went.  But we all grow and for the next Pieces of 8 show we have given the job of curator a lot of thought.  Well, one of our members, Fay, has given it a lot of thought!  Fay was an interior designer and can spot a 1/4" off as easily as some can estimate the yardage to the tee.  I can do neither so I was thrilled when Fay stepped in and offered to design the hanging for our summer show: "Black and White and Red All Over."

We are scheduled to be at the King Center for the Performing Arts, in their Harris Gallery, during the month of July.  Fay asked for a detailed floorplan of the space (got it) and copies of all proposed art including sizes.  Then she got to work.
Fay took care to note the traffic pattern of persons entering the building.  What is the first thing they see she asked herself.  She also recognized that there was no automatic flow of traffic so she elected to design the walls based on symmetry of painting size and by alternating realistic work with more abstract pieces.  (In some shows progression of time or style may be a consideration for the order in which you see the work.)



Fay actually built a mock up or diarama of the room to scale.  She then did likewise with our art so that "hanging" them on the walls would give a true idea of space.  You will note that she chose to hang art with the center of each piece at eye level.  This is the way most museums hang work for maximum ease in viewing.  Each piece should have plenty of breathing space so that work does not compete for attention.  Curators note that eyeing the neighboring piece peripherally is fine as long as the art itself is not in focus.  The most common mistake amateurs make, one expert noted, is hanging too many pieces.

Many times the job of curator is also to select the work to be shown.  In this case we all decided that we would each submit our best 2 (self juried) and hand in one additional piece to be used at the discretion of the curator (Fay) as needed or desired to round out the show. 

Finally, the curator also has to decide on the placement of any verbiage, tags, labels and headlines used in the presentation.  We were just tickled that Fay stepped up for the job...having a pro-eye on the presentation can really make or break a show.

Here's one of my pieces for the show, titled "Black & White & Dead All Over." It is large, 40" x 30" and is a collage of newspapers with ink and paint, and, I hope makes a comment on the state of newspapers today.
You'll get another invitation to view the show as we approach July but since the behind the scenes work always interests me I thought I'd share with you some of thoses logistics.

Next time you visit a show or a museum take a little time to see if you can see what the curator had in mind in electing to hang certain pieces as he/she did.

Cindy








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