“Oh, you’re a curator too?” My friend’s comment caught me off guard. I don’t find this activity unusual because I work in academia and there’s always another person in the building who is bringing in a visiting artist or putting together an exhibition. I don’t consider this to be a separate part of my identity as an artist; it simply is an act of learning and creating another aspect of professional practice. Barring an extraordinarily full plate, I enjoy the challenge of curating-selecting and corresponding with artists, collaborating with venues, a ton of organizing and scheduling, working with hard and soft deadlines, writing press releases, hunting down information, and, sometimes, writing catalog copy. It’s a funny combination of needing to be organized and simultaneously flexible. These are the task-based challenges. Conceptual development is another ball of wax-selecting a single thought from a sky full of idea-dirigibles can be even more daunting than having half of your artists running behind deadline. That is still happening and I am following up on each person’s status. One of the artists appropriately referred to this activity as ‘herding cats’.
There are multiple ways to begin curating an exhibition-if you start with the idea, you can look for artists whose work fits the theme. If there are artists you want to exhibit, you can develop a concept that serves as an umbrella for the work. Should the venue be unique, you may select work to fit with that gallery/space’s mission or architecture. Once in a while you will ask artists to recommend other artists. Being invited to exhibit is a compliment, and I enjoy being complementary.
The Elegant Statement opens on March 5th at Asheville Bookworks and runs through April 15th. I hope we’ll see you there!