Monday, May 14, 2012

the dark side of curating...

This is indeed the part I hate about curating, rejection letters. Being an artist that has received more then my fair share of them it breaks my heart to send them out. To add to the heartbreak I know so many people either in person or via this here blog that I often feel like it is saying no to a friend. But as I curate I try to do it blind without any awareness to who the person is and just judge by the work.

For this specific show I really had to consider the relatively small space, the role of the venue as a place to sell work being more important then the concept, and wanting to show unique works. I am having to say no to a number of works that I really loved but due to size, subject matter, or other very similar works I had to make the choice to edit those works out. Sucks.

Sarah Touslee

But with all that said I am also SO excited about the work that I did select and really look forward to figuring out how I am going to make it all work together in such a small space. hmmm I am imagining salon style installation. I also think that the window display will turn out super cool.

Looking forward to seeing it all done.


Anonymous said...

Assuming these four pieces are part of the exhibition, I will really be interested to know who purchases them. This is one of the criteria you used in selecting pieces for this exhibition.I would consider all of these pieces very conceptual in nature and worthy for show. They are certainly innovative in use of found and re-used materials, in content and in how they fit together to be part of a particular gathering of pieces related to your taste and liking. I am interested in knowing how you separate preference and judgment in curating. You seem to know and admire many of the artists you select. Would it not be better for you to contact them personally and invite them to show in a specific exhibition since you know what you want and not do an open call? I assume you do an open call to find other artists who have a similar mantra to your personal vision, which, I assume, is slanted in what you like or prefer. I have noticed the a majority of the pieces in all the shows you have curated have a similarity to each other, all resembling each other as in the ones you have featured in the last two blogs. These pieces are very representative of your past shows; i.e., non-framed hanging fabrics, simple embroidered drawings that could easily be rendered with pencil or pen. I would dare say I could look at the same images you are looking at and pick out the pieces that you would select.

Joetta M. said...

Actually these works were not selected but works I really love but decided did not work for this specific venue and exhibit.

I am not curating with the goal of selling work but with the goal of creating an interesting and dynamic exhibit that celebrates contemporary fiber works. This is why I intentionally work independently as opposed to for a "profit" gallery.

I generally do not "know" the artists that I exhibit but get to know them via the process of working with them so the more I curate the more people I know. But this never affects my process of choosing. I look at the work blindly in my initial process.

To me curating is judgment and preference with intellectual reason all curators have preference that is why certain galleries show certain kinds of work. That is why the personality of a museum changes when their head curator changes. That is why the Whitney is different then the Met. They have different goals, preferences, curators, and missions.
I select work based on if it moves me, draws me in, or makes me want to see more. Sometimes this is work similar to my "mantra" and sometimes it is work VERY different then my personal vision as an artist. My interest is work that stirs something, whatever that ends up meaning.

It is the artist's responsibility to research jurors and curators before they submit to see if it is likely that there work would fit that individuals vision.

I feel that the actual venue also contributes greatly to what work is selected. Who is the audience what is the role of the space.

I have indeed begun to curate by inviting artists but this is a very different experience and will never replace my interest in open calls. As open calls allow more space to fund their exhibits and allows me as a writer, curator, and critic to be exposed to artists that I would never find otherwise.


mommy besieged said...

Hi Joetta,
Read your post just after sending out a pile of "rejection" letters myself... just went through a jurying process and while the decisions were not mine to make, I get to be the bearer of "bad news." I wish I could convey to people how the jurying process balances elements of thoughtfulness and arbitrariness... how a different jury would have come to very different conclusions... how it is not necessarily a reflection on the quality or interest of their work. As an artist who gets about an even amount of "yays" and "nays" - I take it all in stride and hope others do too! I know about the yucky side of shows and wish you well with this one!

Joetta M. said...

taking it all in stride is about all we can do right? Thanks for sharing your thoughts it is comforting to know that other folks struggle with this part of things too:)

dawn said...

I wasn't going to comment on your post because I am one of the lucky ones in this instance. I was confident that my piece fit the theme and was of quality workmanship and artistic value, not so confident that my piece would appeal to the curator on a personal level. I am beyond excited to have been accepted.

And I have been rejected for many shows and I'm fine with that. The key is to not be frustrated and not to feel you should change to fit in. As Joetta points out, each curator is different and each show is different. Be true to yourself, have confidence in who you are as an artist, and continue to learn and grow. I found being involved in a critque class and dragging my mentor to my shows to look at my work really helpful.

Joetta M. said...

thank you for your comments. And I agree.

I also think it is very unprofessional to be anything but gracious no matter what the results both in my curatorial and my artist roles. Otherwise you may inadvertently hurt yourself.