"Experience is one thing
you can’t get for nothing,” wrote Oscar Wilde. As a presenter at the AAMC
Annual Conference in the Pecha Kucha Slam section, I am grateful for my grant
because it allowed me to harness the experience of hundreds of curators at one
time and use their comments and criticisms to improve both my public speaking
ability as well as an exhibition very dear to my heart.
Because the focus of the
Pecha Kucha section was on the presentation of an exhibition in planning stages
rather than one already completed, I was given the motivation to consider the exhibition
as a whole instead of the scattered piecemeal way I often begin the process. This
greatly aided me in compiling resources and in determining layout.
The exhibition I
presented, "Detroit: the abandoned city?” was one that I have been working on
outside of my job as the Assistant Curator at the Boca Museum of Art, Florida,
and so the competition took something over which I normally would have dawdled
and forced me to really address the issues that come with an exhibition
proposal: sourcing artists, images, and references.
The Pecha Kucha setup was
also helpful in that rather than presenting a fully formed idea, a closed
concept, it allowed for brainstorming from audience members. Following the talk, curators from the
Philadelphia Museum, a Tokyo museum, the Peabody-Essex, freelance curators, and
a previous curator from LACMA all offered helpful suggestions on artists to
include in the show as well as the overarching narrative.
In fact, some of the artists that the other
curators suggested for inclusion even dovetailed which was a sure sign that
they should be added to the show. Besides the encouragement and helpful
suggestions, simply chatting with the other curators during the reception was
infinitely helpful and enjoyable.
In a matter of hours I
took a poll on some registrarial concerns with which my museum has been
wrestling, I got multiple opinions from experts in contemporary Latin American
art on a possible donation we’ve been considering, and was extended the offer
to visit a number of museums to continue discussions. It was so refreshing to spend time with other
curators. Admittedly, curating can sometimes feel isolating despite the
constant contact with docents, artists, and the public.
Meeting with hundreds of
people who all are familiar with, and have opinions on, social practice art,
the care of conservation, and philosophical issues in the arts can really
hearten an individual in the creative field.
I have a renewed vigor now both for the
exhibition I am planning as well as my profession in general and I think that
was reflected when I returned to Florida. I opened an exhibition on May 7th
and so unfortunately couldn’t stay for the MoMA portion of the conference but
my enthusiasm relayed itself to the opening – a group show of Floridian artists
– and thus I received many emails and calls of thanks the following day, many
more than I normally do, as I hold this exhibition annually. For both myself
and my associate who also attended the meeting, Marisa Pascucci, Curator of 20th
Century and Contemporary Art at the Boca Museum, the conference was a
resounding success and we made many new contacts, learned much, and secured a
few new shows. Artists have their studios to meet with others of their ilk to
exchange ideas and offer support, and curators have conferences like this one
to do the same.